In the News

Commuter Race draws attention to alternate forms of transportation

Tuesday May 11, 2010
By The Santa Cruz Sentinel

The Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 11, 2010


Commuter Race draws attention to alternate forms of transportation




WATSONVILLE -- The seventh annual Santa Cruz County Commuter Race was held during rush hour in Watsonville Monday, where three community members competed against each other on various forms of alternative transportation. Participants in the three-mile race were required to stop off at three Watsonville businesses to simulate running errands during Watsonville's heavy 4 p.m. traffic.

The Commuter Race began at the Nature Center behind Ramsay Park, amidst light rain showers, and wound through busy Watsonville streets, ending at the gazebo in the middle of the City Plaza. The event, staged by Ecology Action, a Santa Cruz nonprofit, helped kick off the 23rd annual Santa Cruz County Bike Week, which runs through Saturday.

Watsonville Mayor Luis Alejo, who drove a Zap! electric truck in the race, said that he was excited to see the different forms of alternative transportation in action. Alejo, who was competing in the annual race for the first time, said the event was fun for participants and educational for the community.

"This is a great event," Alejo said. "It's a cost-friendly way to get around. It promotes exercise for locals. Here in Watsonville, we have a lot of bike-friendly roads. We'd like to see a lot more people using alternative forms of transportation in the future."


Alejo said that while some steps have been taken to improve various traffic concerns in Watsonville, traffic congestion remains an issue.

Alejo said residents could help the problem by exploring the alternate forms of transportation put forth in the race.
"I think it's a great vision," Alejo said. "I'm happy to support it."

Bicycle enthusiast Bob Montague, owner and chef at Café Sparrow in Aptos, competed in the commuter race on a bicycle. Montague said since he took up cycling six years ago, he has lost 75 pounds, and has gotten a chance to know the back roads of the county.

Montague said he believes Watsonville is working hard to move its transportation in the right direction.

"This is crucial to the future of our area," said Montague, who was the race winner by a wide margin. "There are so many people who have never been on a bike. So many of us don't have this as part of our lives. This is a day where people can find out about alternatives to their usual ways of getting around."

Victor Ramos, program coordinator and radio personality at Univision, KLOK-FM, drove a hybrid car in the race. Ramos said that he often employs alternative forms of transportation during his daily life, and that the event was a positive step in the right direction.

"This is great for the community to get involved in," Ramos said. "People can actually make a difference. It's good for your health and good for reducing pollution."

Nick Mucha of Ecology Action, who organized the Commuter Race, said that bringing it to Watsonville was a deliberate choice.

"We want the message of this event to resonate in all communities in Santa Cruz County," Mucha said. "The mayor's participation got us a lot of attention. We really just want people to see that there are plenty of transportation options out there."

For information on Ecology Action visit www.ecoact.org. For information on Bike to Work/School Day, visit www.bike2work.com, or call 426-5925 ext. 128.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include the fact that Bob Montague won the race. Luis Alejo finished second and Victor Ramos was third.