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Uniting for Biking

2019 Velo Wings Award Winners Mobilize for Change

Award-winner Lori La Riva on a recent trip to Norway

For the eighth year running, The Santa Barbara Bicycle Coalition is honoring three women for their outstanding contributions toward improving local cycling. The annual Velo Wings Award ceremony is part of CycleMAYnia, an activity-packed, month-long celebration of all things biking. This year’s award winners have each worked to bring people together for a common cause: safer biking for all.

Award recipient Lori La Riva has spent over a decade creating innovative solutions to the challenges presented by the diverse needs of road users. As the Traffic Solutions Program Coordinator at SBCAG, La Riva oversees CycleMAYnia, helping to plan and implement over 30 biking events during the month of May.

From the fix-a-flat clinic, to bike commuter breakfasts, to bike-in movies, CycleMAYnia casts a wide net, inviting novice to expert level cyclists to join in the fun. Says La Riva, “The most rewarding part of my work is my relationships with people. With CycleMAYnia, our collaborators are creative, inspiring and fun and I love bringing their ideas to the community.”

Courtney Dietz has worn many hats in the cycling community, from executive director at The Coalition for Sustainable Transportation (COAST), to SBBike board president. She has helped shape the biking landscape in Santa Barbara both culturally and through her contributions to the Bike Master Plan. In each role, she says she has been motivated by “the desire to make biking accessible to more people.”

When Dietz welcomed the first of her two young daughters and saw a gap in cycling support, she sought a community solution. “I wanted to help educate families about the diversity of ways to ride with their growing family.” She organized Babies on Bikes, an event featuring gear to demo, the advice of seasoned family cyclists, and an encouraging atmosphere. She is hoping to host another such event in the future and is eagerly awaiting the day her youngest daughter is able to join in, “I’m really looking forward to us all being out together!”

Eighth grader Aria Riley started the school year as a less-than-enthusiastic participant in Dunn school’s biking curriculum. But, the more she biked, the more she grew to enjoy it, and the more she wanted to make significant changes to road conditions.  She made better bike infrastructure the focus of her eighth grade project to, “raise awareness for the importance of safe bike lanes in Santa Barbara County.”

When Riley heard about The Two Wheel Town Hall ride she knew it would be the perfect fit for her project. The ride, organized to promote a collaborative approach to better cycling in the Santa Ynez Valley, had the support of local leaders, but Riley more than tripled the number of participants by planning an alternate class schedule and committing the entire Dunn school, including faculty, to attend. Says Riley, “I wanted to be involved in this bike ride because it was the perfect event to carry out my project while showing that a middle schooler can care for real world problems.”

The award ceremony will be held on May 11, at noon, at Bicycle Bobs in Goleta.

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