Bicycle advocate Najari Smith, creator of Rich City Rides, has been named a 2022 Bike Champion of the Year.
Smith is among this year’s winners of an award provided by Bay Area Bike to Wherever Days (BTWD), which is presented by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
Bike Champion of the Year (BCOY) awards are given to individuals who inspire bicycling in their Bay Area communities and who advocate for bicycling as a primary mode of transport, according to BTWD.
Smith went from joining the Richmond Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee to organizing frequent community bike rides, which he dubbed Rich City Rides and turned into a highly influential nonprofit in the community. Rich City Rides offers “hundreds of rides that have attracted over 20,000 participants and often incorporates an educational aspect and/or community clean-up activities,” BTWD said.
Two years after founding the nonprofit, Smith and his partners Taye McGee, Mykee Ramen, Rafael Fernandez, and Josue Hernandez co-founded the for-profit Rich City Rides Bike Skate Shop, which is located at 15th Street and Macdonald Avenue. The nonprofit also hosts regular bicycle clinics and repair workshops from its bike hub at Unity Park on the Richmond Greenway. The hub hosts bicycle maintenance and classes on bicycling for primarily youth.
“After spending enough hours learning, they can earn a bicycle for themselves,” according to BTWD.
Rich City Rides is continuing to expand, establishing the Rich City Gallery in an old motorcycle repair shop “that will be used for community events, classes, gatherings, and as an art gallery,” BTWD said.
“In just a little over a decade, Smith has changed the bicycle landscape in Richmond and beyond,” the organization said.
Winners of the BCOY award will receive a Lezyne Strip Pro Alert Drive from Mike’s Bikes, a bicycle-only membership for 24/7 roadside assistance from Better World Club, a laminated, boxed set of San Francisco Bay Trail map cards from the Association of Bay Area Governments, and a customized cycling cap from the MTC.
Bike to Wherever Days occurs during the entire month of May, and Bike to Work Day is on May 20. Details can be found online at Bayareabiketowork.com.