My Multimodal Adventure to the Silicon Valley Transportation Choices and Healthy Communities Summit

By 6:15 AM today, I was biking down the hill from campus, enjoying the moments of stillness right before the sun rose. Lights twinkled in the city below, a familiar view that has been part of my experience at UC Santa Cruz for the last four years. Most of the time when I see the city's twinkling lights, though, it's at night.

Seeing it this early in the morning dispelled any lingering desire to be in my warm bed, and it prepared me for a day of engagement with transportation issues. I was on my way to the Silicon Valley Transportation Choices and Healthy Communities Summit in Palo Alto, and this 15-minute bike ride was leg one of a multi-modal journey!

After biking fast down the hill with my bright yellow jacket on, I arrived at the Santa Cruz Metro Station downtown with about 5 minutes to spare. I put my bike on the bus rack, paid my $5 for the trip over the hill, and sat down to breathe. I promptly closed my eyes and half-slept while sitting and not letting my pannier bag fall over for the next hour on my way to San Jose.

As the bus pulled into the San Jose Diridon Station, I saw Green Guy's adorable red BMW 2002 (Rojito) parked in the circle waiting. (You may remember Rojito from this story!) Vehicle number three for my multi-modal journey! We took the wheels off my bike to store it in the car and then drove to the store for breakfast ingredients and coffee. We spent some of the morning with his family, and he made everyone yummy egg cheese ham muffins modeled after the Egg McMuffin but much tastier. Then we were off to Palo Alto!

Upon arriving near University Avenue, I asked Green Guy to take some photos of me with my bike for my new column "It's Wheely Easy Being Green" on Pedal Love. I modeled in front of some flowers for a few minutes, striking different poses with my beloved bike. Helmet on, or off? These are serious fashion considerations, so we took a ton of different pictures.

I still haven't decided which one I'm using for Pedal Love, but perhaps this one?

Once I felt we must have at least one good photo, we said good bye and he drove off to his job at Tesla Motors. Evidently, we're both advocates for the coolest methods of transportation, bikes and electric sports cars--but let's be honest, bikes are way cooler. I headed into the conference, which took place at the Avenidas Senior Center in downtown Palo Alto, and found a seat.

For the sake of space, I won't go into too much detail here about the conference. I will say, though, that it was awesome to be around that many transportation advocates, and it was a perfect opportunity to meet people who are working on bike advocacy and other transportation topics in the Silicon Valley. I learned about local organizations, met some new friends, and discovered potential opportunities to pursue after I graduate in June.

To learn more about the conference, please view my photo essay here.

After the conference, I biked to the Caltrain station in Palo Alto. It was only the fourth or so time I've used Caltrain, and my first time bringing a bike onboard. I had read the information online about it, but I still gravitated toward some other folks with bikes waiting at the platform. They showed me what to do, and it was so easy!

As I sat in the bike car, I glanced around at the other bikes and noticed a really cute red one (above). I snapped a photo of the bikes, and a few stops later, a fashionably dressed woman in dark purple tights, black heels, and a red coat approached the bike. I instantly recognized her as the blogger for One Woman. Many bicycles. Of course, I couldn't remember her name or the name of her blog at the time, so I didn't approach her to say hi. I receive her blog posts in my email, and I knew she lived in the area and used Caltrain between bike rides. It was cool to see her in person, especially because now we both write for Pedal Love, and she's one of only three or so Northern California writers for the site.

When I arrived in San Jose, I waited in line for my second to last leg of my journey: the Highway 17 Express back to Santa Cruz. I fell asleep on this one again, too.

Upon arriving back in Santa Cruz, I considered biking back to campus... but given my sleepiness and the paper that I have due Monday (0/5 pages complete), I opted to save my energy and waited for the bus. Fortunately, I got a spot in the bus bike rack, and then I was headed home to my dorm.

Wow, what a day filled with transportation, connections (between people and modes of transit), and a sense of community that spans the Santa Cruz and Silicon Valley communities. I feel myself being pulled somewhat toward my future in the Silicon Valley area where I'll likely move after graduating, but I also feel rooted in Santa Cruz. This morning's sunrise and a walk around my college before the sun set tugged at my heart and sense of home. It is beautiful here, the air is fresh and full of natural sounds, and I know this place. I have lived and learned and loved life in this forest for four years.

Yet, I know that I need some adventure in other places and communities, and I want to bring what I have learned and experienced on this campus and in this community to other communities. Today's conversations taught me that there are so many people in other places that are working for sustainable and just solutions; Santa Cruz is not the only place. There are dialogues and people and struggles happening in the Silicon Valley that I want to learn about and be part of, so I look forward to the future, yet I am doing my best to remain present in this coastal, redwood filled world.


  1. Oh, you met Lady Fleur! I had no idea she went to that conference.

  2. She was on her way back from her photo shoot in SF, actually. This one:


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