Ever wondered where all those people riding bikes through the streets of Stockton come from?
The answer is “Bike Life.”
Bike life is the fast-growing cycling movement that is providing a space where not only can cyclists get their cardio in but also a welcoming community for bike riders. Stocktonians have been organizing ride-out events where people young and old can join in every Wednesday and Sunday in Stockton.
These events can attract large crowds of cyclists, as seen on many Stockton streets. But being caught in their routes during a ride out can cause concern not only for cyclists but also for drivers. Police officials say little can be done unless they get reports of traffic violations.
For those involved with the events, it’s a chance to get some exercise and fresh air as they pedal away. Gustavo Gomez is an adult cyclist who has been riding with the Port City Wheelie Crew for six years. He shares that the bike life community here is a positive one.
“It’s a way to bring the kids out and have everybody in the community come together and start riding,” said Gomez.
Stockton currently has two bike groups: Port City Wheelie Crew, also known as PCWC, and Mexicans On Bikes, also known as “MOB” by riders.
PCWC meets every Sunday at the Regal Imax movie theater on North El Dorado Street at noon for a 1 p.m ride out. Riders call it “Sunday Funday” with a pre-selected route.
Bike life in Stockton all started with Port City Wheelie Crew about six years ago, according to group leader and ‘Sunday Funday’ organizer Damon Dayton.
Dayton takes pride in organizing Sunday’s ride-outs and enjoys the fact that this inclusive community is for youth and adults.
“My biggest thing is seeing the community work together and see everyone out there do positive stuff – and I love to see the smiles on everybody’s face when they are on their bike,” Dayton said. “Everybody forgets their problems and all their emotions and everything is put to the side they just ride their bike.”
Dayton is known as the ‘originator of bike life in Stockton,’ according to MOB organizer Alex Galindo.
MOB formed after PCWC had already begun rides on Sunday for people who wanted to ride more than just one day a week. The group hosts rides every Wednesday and meets at Caldwell Park for a 7 p.m. ride out.
Galindo runs the Instagram page and is one of the organizers for the Wednesday MOB rides. Despite the name, MOB ride-outs welcome anyone who wishes to participate.
“We’re trying to give the kids something to do,” Galindo said, “keep them off the streets and give them something positive.”
A recent Wednesday MOB ride out saw well over 100 riders. The group traveled 20.2 miles in more than two hours. A video from their Instagram page showed they started at Caldwell Park and went as far as the Sonic drive-thru near Eight Mile Road and Interstate 5.
The bike groups appeal to young riders, such as Javerse Anderson. He’s a 16-year-old cyclist who has been riding in this community for over three years. Anderson consistently rides on both Wednesday and Sunday with his friends.
“My cousin used to ride a long time ago and I would ride during summer break,” Anderson said.
With the number of riders surpassing more than 100 cyclists twice per week, the groups can slow down traffic throughout town. Dozens of cyclists cannot always stay in Stockton’s bike lanes, and there can be accidents as drivers may not be expecting a large group of bikes in a normal traffic lane.
For example, on a recent ride, more than 100 bikes weaved a path through North Stockton. At one point the group spread across both lanes of Feather River Drive near the Barkleyville Dog Park. This caused several drivers to hit their brakes suddenly and weave their way through the cyclists.
Both the MOB and PCWC say they do their best to follow traffic laws and keep riders safe.
“What we ask in return from these kids is to respect the street laws and respect the stores. Once again it just comes down to these kids just being on their own,” said Galindo.
Stockton Police Department spokesperson Joe Silva pointed out that cyclists should follow all traffic regulations.
“While we want bicyclists to have fun, they must remember to obey the rules of the road at all times,” Silva said. “So with that in mind, if a group of bicyclists are overtaking the roadways or impeding the flow of traffic, we need people to call us so we can come out and address it.”
Another complaint about the bike groups has centered on the trash they leave behind at places where they meet up. But organizers say they have addressed the issue.
Henry Waddle, 61, lives near Caldwell Park and has mostly positive feelings about the cyclists.
“We have a lot worse in this town. They are not too bad. They leave a mess every now and then,” Waddle said. “I haven’t seen any trouble, any fights or anything like that. They are always polite. It’s all good.”
“The movement has already started and it’s only gonna get bigger and bigger,” Gomez said.