Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, celebrating its 10th year, is pleased to launch National Bike Month by welcoming the organization’s new Executive Director, Gary Helfrich.
Helfrich’s background in the bike industry, as the chief of a non-profit volunteer fire department, and most recently as transportation planner for the County of Sonoma make him uniquely qualified to lead SCBC is its mission to promote bicycling for transportation and recreation.
In his position in the County of Sonoma’s Permit and Resource Management Division, Helfrich was responsible for developing the County’s 2010 Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan.
“Being selected to serve as the SCBC’s next executive director is a great honor,” says Helfrich, a West Sonoma County resident and dedicated bicycle commuter. “I am passionately committed to the growth and success of SCBC.
"It is my vision that through our advocacy and outreach, Sonoma County will become a place where driving is a choice, rather than a necessity, and be recognized nationally as an example of the critical role that bicycles provide in creating sustainable, healthy communities," he added. "SCBC will also continue to develop a bicycling culture in Sonoma County and improve the image of bicycling through education and outreach.”
Helfrich will step into his new role part-time starting on May 1, as the organization launches its annual National Bike Month/Bike to Work Day promotions. Helfrich will hit the ground pedaling by leading a team in the Team Bike Challenge – a month-long contest designed to inspire people to form a long-term bicycle commuting habit. Participants can register their teams by May 5 at www.youcanbikethere.com.
Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition is promoting a host of Bike Month events, including bike repair/commute clinics, a bike-in movie, and more, including morning Energizer Stations and evening Bike Home Celebrations throughout Sonoma County on May 12th, which is Bike to Work Day. Check out the events at www.BikeSonoma.org/Bike2Work.html.
“I'm so pleased Gary will be taking over the helm of the SCBC,” says long-time SCBC Executive Director, Christine Culver. “I can't imagine anyone better for this endeavor. Gary brings to SCBC his deep bicycle roots and dedication to bike commuting, his experience running small businesses and a non-profit volunteer fire station, and working for the county government as a transportation planner.
"I look forward to the bright future of SCBC," she added.
Culver announced her resignation from the position in January, after more than seven years as the County’s most prominent voice for cyclists.
In order to assure a smooth transition, Culver will work alongside Helfrich until July, when he joins the SCBC staff full time.
About Gary Helfrich:
Helfrich has been involved with bicycles since crashing into the garage in 1961 after his grandfather launched him down the driveway shouting, “training wheels are for sissies!”
Despite this early setback, he became involved in the bicycle industry as an adult, spending nearly 25 years as a framebuilder and industry consultant.
Helfrich began as a welder at Fat City Cycles and later founded Merlin Metalworks.
After leaving Merlin, he moved to Sonoma County where he worked as a custom framebuilder and consultant for companies such as Trek, Serrotta, Santana, and Ibis Cycles.
In 2000, Helfrich sold his company and returned to college to earn a degree in environmental studies and planning, with a concentration in transportation planning.
After graduation, he took a position with Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department’s comprehensive planning division.
During his tenure at PRMD, Helfrich was responsible for developing Sonoma County’s 2010 Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and revising the County’s General Plan to be compliant with the Complete Streets Act.