Janine Rood is the Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition’s affiliate in Chico, the Chico Velo Cycling Club. Our Media Director Melissa Balmer connected with Janine as part of our new series of interviews with our affiliates and other grassroots organizations across the state.
CalBike: What’s your first childhood memory of riding a bike?
Janine Rood: Ha! My folks got me a little bike when I was 5, but my dad didn’t believe in training wheels so I crashed once or twice, setting a precedent I’ve continued to live up/down to! I didn’t try to ride the bike again until my friend convinced me to try again about two years later. I got on the bike and flew. From then I’ve never looked back!
CalBike: Chico Velo Cycling Club is a bit of a misnomer for what your organization is really about. Will you share a little of your history and what kind of advocacy work you’re focusing on today?
JR: Chico Velo started out as more of a traditional bike club, but in the 1980’s the group decided to become a non-profit and focus on bike education, awareness and advocacy. Today, our active programs include kids’ bike safety, mountain bike education, advocacy and trail development, and a bike valet service. We encourage bike commuting, as well as advocate with the city and county to improve local bike infrastructure.
CalBike: How are things now in your region as far as equity is concerned? Is it a top of mind awareness conversation?
JR: Here in Northern California, the equity question is just starting to percolate. These new discussions mostly revolve around income differences, disparities between neighborhoods and homeless/transient issues. Biking is central to this discussion, as we have a major bike theft issue, and bikes are primary transportation for many homeless and transient people.
CalBike: As a woman, what would you like to see bike advocacy do in California and across the U.S. to build the skills and presence of women both in the movement and as riders?
JR: I want to teach women to love the freedom, power, and other benefits of cycling, to become fearless riders and capable at basic bike maintenance, competent to teach their kids, and to become advocates for better bike infrastructure on the routes they use.
CalBike: For the first time, I believe, Chico Velo Cycling Club will be partners on Active Transportation Projects. Can you share more about those projects and partnerships?
JR: Chico Velo is excited to have partnered with both the Cities of Paradise and Chico to provide the bike-related non-infrastructure component of their ATP project bids, specifically education, awareness and encouragement programs. The City of Paradise won two Safe Routes to Schools grants to improve neighborhood access and connectivity between schools for biking and walking. The City of Chico won funding for the next phase for the Highway 99 corridor bikeway.
CalBike: Your organization excels at events. Your Wildflower ride, coming up this spring, hosts over 4,000 riders annually. What advice do you have for advocate groups who want to be more successful at events?
JR: Events require a long view; don’t expect to make money the first year out of the gate (or even the first few). Treat every participant like gold, roll with the punches, and maybe most of all, find a way to select and design events that serve your other goals as much as the fundraising. That way if worse comes to worst, at least your event will move you forward on those other goals.
Learn more about Janine Rood and Chico Velo Cycling Club at chicovelo.org.