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Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition names new chief


The Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group for bicycling issues, has hired a county planner with deep roots in cycling as its new executive director.

Gary Helfrich is the new executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition. (CHRISTOPHER CHUNG/The Press Democrat)

Gary Helfrich, 57, of Camp Meeker, takes over the position on Sunday. The position pays $50,000.

He replaces Christine Culver, who was the executive director of the coalition for eight years and has been a vocal presence at numerous public meetings, from the city of Santa Rosa to the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit district, where projects involving bicycle projects werer being discussed.

The coalition, which has 1,100 members and a $450,000 annual budget, is 10 years old.

Helfrich said he wants the nonprofit coalition to focus on outreach, safety and promoting projects that improve safety and away from the growing friction that has developed between cyclists and motorists.

“Cycling should be a choice, or walking a choice,” said Helfrich. “Now to have a job in Sonoma County it is mandatory to own an automobile. We are not saying get rid of cars, we are not trying to pre-empt cars from getting around, it is not an either-or conflict.”

Helfrich, a lifelong cyclist, was co-founder of Merlin Metalworks in Cambridge, Mass., a bicycle frame manufacturer. He also was a consultant for Trek, Serotta and Ibis bicycle companies after moving to Sonoma County in 1986.

For the past five years he has been a planner in the Sonoma County planning department, writing policies for the countywide pedestrian and bicycle plan.

He commutes by bicycle daily to the Sonoma County administration center.

Helfrich said, however, that he is among those who are being laid off at the end of June as part of the county’s budget cuts.

Helfrich is also a past president of the Camp Meeker Park and Recreation District, served on the Sonoma County Local Agency Formation Commission and has been a volunteer Camp Meeker firefighter for 20 years.

10 Responses to “Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition names new chief”

  1. Wack Bang says:

    BOOM, tumble, clink, owwwwy, lol…lol…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. cyclist says:

    Are we able to buy Elected officials now? Who are they and how much will it cost to buy one?

    Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  3. Posit says:

    @ Tom, who are “these people” and how are they “destroying Sonoma County”?

    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  4. Billy C says:

    Sounds like a good move for the Bike coalition. The Previous director seemed to spend more time pushing her pro bike ,pro train progressive agenda instead of serving the biking community.
    I have to give her credit for being able to change City Hall my stacking the council and forming alliances with the ADC
    and other progressive minded groups.
    However I feel she may have done a lot more harm than good. Santa Rosa is not Progressive Bike town USA . In pushing her agenda so hard she had polarized the community at a bad time. When people are losing there jobs, businesses and homes they do not want to be told that they need to spend more and more money on bike projects that benefit less than few percent of our population.

    I say promote biking ,ride bikes but don’t
    do so at the expense of your fellow citizen.

    Good luck to you Mr.Helfrych
    I am expecting good things from the SCBC.

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  5. James Bennett says:

    The Bicycle Coalition serves to MANUFACTURE CONSENSUS for ICLEI objectives(most/all its well meaning members don’t even know it).ICLEI’s objective is to make automobiles annoying, expensive, even anti-social.To indoctrinate the serfs to having thier town reconfigured in the name of bicycle preference.For cars represent freedom, which is the antithesis of Agenda21.

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  6. Dan Delgado says:

    Good luck and congratulations, Mr. Helfrich. How your predecessor and her allies turned a seemingly benign subject as bicycles into the contentious political battle it has become boggles the mind. Here’s to the return of common sense and better days ahead.

    Thumb up 25 Thumb down 6

  7. CA Patriot says:

    @Tom- In other countries they don’t have the freedom of speech rights to promote and express one’s opinion. Perhaps you’d prefer a communist country, or a fascist one? Maybe a dictatorship?

    God Bless America.

    Thumb up 14 Thumb down 5

  8. GAJ says:

    Much respect to a volunteer firefighter.

    Thumbs up.

    Sounds like they picked an honorable guy.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 6

  9. bear says:

    The bike people of Sonoma County have freely elected this extremely qualified guy to lead them.

    They are a private organization.

    Isn’t that OK?

    Thumb up 18 Thumb down 15

  10. Tom says:

    These people are destroying Sonoma County and they are doing it by buying our elected officials. In other countries they call that corruption

    Thumb up 17 Thumb down 26

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