It’s official, Roseland has a Dynamic Cycling Duo. In fact, if you’re looking for a good example of Sonoma County residents taking it to the streets, look no further than Arlene Quiroz and Alexis Roldan. Arlene and Alexis attend Roseland University Prep (RUP), a small college-preparatory high school in the heart of Roseland. The Duo regularly ride their bicycles to school.
At ECO2school, one of our major aims is to get more high school students riding their bicycles to and from school. With over sixty percent of Sonoma County’s emissions coming from transportation, we often make the case that riding your bike or walking is the most impactful action a student can take to reduce their carbon footprint.
But changing our transportation habits is no easy feat. The social norming of cycling is a work in progress here in America. ECO2school offers Street Skills courses taught by League of American Bicyclist League Certified Instructors, which include bicycle handling skills, traffic awareness, and bicycle maintenance. We hope to pair students’ interest in cycling with hands-on learning to create cycling ambassadors capable of navigating any-and-all traffic-related situations while inspiring others to do the same.
Arlene is one of these passionate riders. She has been riding consistently for a couple years now. Her three-and-a-half mile bike ride to school starts on the SMART Bike Pedestrian Path near Coddingtown Mall, which offers some reprieve from the car-filled streets of Santa Rosa. But, she regularly gets flat tires. “Glass, nails, thorns, it happens all the time, especially the places I ride,” she said when describing her commute. In fact, on one of our group rides, Arlene got to put her newly-acquired maintenance skills to the test when her rear tube was punctured by an industrial staple. “It was a great feeling to fix my own tire and then be able to keep riding.”
Alexis’s path to commuting by bicycle took off after he won a bicycle in last year’s ECO2school Challenge. The Challenge encourages high school students to use active methods of transportation to and from school by having them track their commutes over a two-week period to see how much CO2 they can prevent from being emitted. Before that, Alexis was solely a pedestrian. “It took so much longer to walk everywhere,” he said during a group ride. “Riding a bike is faster and so much more efficient. I can bike places I never would have walked before.”
Like any new cyclist Alexis is learning the skills to safely navigate traffic and ECO2school staff is there to help. During a bicycle maintenance skill session, the Duo learned the ABC Quick Check, practiced changing and patching tubes, and finished with some cable adjustments. Sadly that day, the air quality was extremely polluted due to the Camp Fire. After we finished, the Duo put on breathing masks and took off on their newly-adjusted bikes. Their excitement was contagious but they could see the look of concern on my face, “Don’t worry, we won’t breathe too hard, we’ll ride slowly,” they reassured me while doing figure eights in the now-empty parking lot.
The Dynamic Duo’s commitment to riding provides an example to their fellow students and teachers at RUP and serves as an inspiration for all of us here in Sonoma County.
To any Sonoma County high school students who want to learn to pedal like Arlene and Alexis, please contact ECO2school today.
And stay tuned for more inspirational stories from RUP’s Dynamic Cycling Duo.