Santa Cruz: Biking’s Best Kept Secret

I have been working for Ecology Action since June of this year. I came on as a California Climate Action Corps fellow working with the EVs (electric vehicles) for Everyone/EVs Para Todos campaign, which helps low-income individuals access financial incentives to purchase electric vehicles. I knew nothing about cars or the electric vehicle market when I started working at Ecology Action, but this job taught me to take risks and venture into areas that I might not be comfortable with. It’s the ultimate experiment of using the unknown to help yourself grow.

So, when I was approached by the adult bike team at Ecology Action for support while our coworker was on paternity leave, I was apprehensive. If I was not a car person before working at Ecology Action, I was definitely not a bike person. Sure, I rode bikes when I was younger. Who didn’t? Nevertheless, I jumped onto the bike team and quickly realized that Santa Cruz has a booming bike industry that is silently working to create a rich culture of sustainable outdoor transportation.

I was shocked to find out just how big Santa Cruz’s bike industry is. The City of Santa Cruz itself deems the community a “bike-riding nirvana.” You can ride on the coast, in the mountains, or through the redwood forest. Not only is the scenery stellar due to the varied routes and riding options, we also have bike shops and manufacturers to match. Santa Cruz is small, but our bike industry certainly isn’t. There are almost 15 different biking companies and frame builders in the county.

Here is a compiled list of bike manufacturers and frame builders in Santa Cruz County.

Manufacturers:

Frame Builders:

If you are looking to start biking or going all in on a new bike, you can shop locally and get help from companies that operate in your own backyard. This can also be said for bicycle shops. I have frequently noticed bike shops here and there while driving down Mission Street. And who could miss the large Spokesman sign in downtown? These bike shops have always been in my peripheral, but I never appreciated the network that exists throughout the county until now. Ecology Action partners with many shops across the county on a range of programs, from Bike Month to activities at UCSC, offering everything from our zero-interest bike loans to e-bike rebates. Some of the local shops have been here for over 40 years (Bicycle Trip), while some are installing their service counters and opening for business (Bicycle Lifestyle in Aptos). You can find traditional bike shops, repair-focused stores, family-oriented bike centers, and custom bike production. You can also get anything from a traditional Analog bike to the hottest new e-bike.

Here is Ecology Action’s current list of bike shops across the county:

Bike Shops:

It’s clear that I am shocked at the breadth of the biking industry in Santa Cruz. However, I think that what surprised me the most was the complex network of biking organizations that prioritize community engagement and collaborative educational opportunities. Organizations like Bike Santa Cruz County work with the community to teach biking skills and provide support in creating safe environments so that everyone can feel comfortable biking. And Bike Santa Cruz County is not alone: there are dozens of other organizations that focus on youth education, gear distribution, and comprehensive bike repair skills.

Here is a current list of bike organizations and groups in Santa Cruz County who help cultivate, grow, and sustain the biking community.

Bike Organizations:

Starting to bike can be daunting, and using biking as your primary means of transportation is even more so. Like I said, I am by no means a biker…but knowing that there are multiple organizations out there that focus their efforts on inexperienced bikers is comforting. Santa Cruz is serious about its biking, but if you are new to it or just exploring the possibilities, feel at ease that you can find support, whether it is in the abundance of shops to visit or the surplus of bike programs, educational opportunities, and events that organizations put on. The secret is out: whether you’re a novice or a pro, Santa Cruz is a biking hotspot.