Who We Are MCBC Welcomes Warren Wells, Policy & Planning Director

Click here to register for a lunch hour Zoom Q&A with Warren on Thursday, February 25th!

We are delighted to have Warren Wells join MCBC as our new Policy & Planning Director. Warren joins us with a breadth of active transportation policy and planning experience, serving most recently as a transportation planner developing transit and bike/pedestrian projects across the Bay Area.

As a car-free commuter, Warren sees widespread bicycling as a key part of addressing issues of public health, economic justice, and climate change. Warren is responsible for coordinating advocacy campaigns associated with the Road Program, aiming to complete the North-South and East-West Greenways, and to help make bicycling and walking in Marin safer and more convenient for everyone. Since moving to the Bay Area, he has taken up recreational riding and has ridden hundreds of miles on Mount Tam and in the Marin Headlands. We asked Warren to tell us more about himself and why he rides!

What kind of bicycle(s) do you ride?

I own two bikes (though hoping to add another to the stable this year):
Trek Checkpoint, for gravel and road riding
Soma Wolverine, for shopping, touring, and dirt in a pinch

What do you like best about riding?

There’s no better way to get to know the place you live in than by bike. I love hiking and walking, but you’re really limited by how much ground you can cover. And in a car, everything goes by too fast. Biking is this happy medium where you’re moving quickly but you’re still such a part of the place you’re traveling through. And because you don’t have to bother with parking, whenever you want to stop and take a picture or grab a bite to eat at a fun-looking restaurant, there’s nothing to stop you.

What do you like best about the benefits of riding your bike?

I love that it’s a cheap, climate-friendly way of getting around where I don’t need to hunt for parking. Sometimes riding a bike can feel like a cheat code, where I never have to circle the block and always find a space. There’s no tank to fill up, no lease payment, and no registration fee! And for anything within a couple miles, most of the time taking a bike is actually faster than driving.

On the less practical side, my commute is actually fun (which isn’t something most people can say) and I love that (pre-covid) I can actually run into friends on my way to and from work. I’ve planned rides, dinners, and game nights just from bumping into people I know at a stop light!

What would you have liked someone to tell you when you started?

Fenders are a great idea in the winter.

Where is your favorite place to ride your bike?

I’ll give two answers: road and dirt. For road, in 2019 I did a fundraising tour (the California Climate Ride) between Santa Cruz and San Luis Obispo and the trip through Big Sur was too beautiful for words. I would really love to do that trip again. For dirt, the Diablo Foothills Regional Park in springtime feels like being in another country.

What is your favorite ride/route in Marin County?

My ideal Marin bike ride involves a trip northbound on Ridgecrest Boulevard (the downhill direction) continuing onto the Bolinas Ridge Trail and down Shafter Grade. My housemates and I camped in Samuel P. Taylor State Park last year for my birthday and we did a loop up Tam that ended with that stretch of road, which is some of the best the Bay has to offer.

What part of riding would you most like to improve?

There are so many opportunities to make biking easier for everyday trips. I believe that facilitating 1-3 mile trips to the store and making it safer for kids to bike to school are some of the most important transportation goals. Most shopping trips can be undertaken on an e-bike, which are quieter, cleaner, and take up way less space than driving a truck to the store for a couple bags of groceries. And if parents feel that biking is safe enough for their children to ride to school, that saves them from the time commitment and stress of drop-off/pick-up and lets the kids get some exercise too!

What is your vision of bicycling in the future?

I imagine a world in which the default mode for short trips is to go by bike or e-bike. Today, the majority of all trips are under 3 miles (roughly 15-20 minutes on a bike), and yet most people hop in a car without thinking. To be clear, I don’t think we can change this by blaming or shaming anyone. People move about the world in a way that makes sense given the transportation system we’ve designed. But if we change that system to make biking feel safer to the average person, I know that we’ll see way more people choosing to ride bikes with huge benefits for our air, for our bodies, and for our climate.

Click here to register for a lunch hour Zoom Q&A with Warren on Thursday, February 25th!


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