April is Earthquake Preparedness Month, and April 18 is the 100th anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Many emergency response plans call for the use of bicycle messengers to dispatch instructions if electronic communications are disrupted, and disaster preparation guides suggest keeping a bicycle handy to help you get around after roads are destroyed.
Immediately after the 1995 Kobe Earthquake in Japan, my father led one of the first rescue teams to make it into Kobe. He and his crew took the train as far as possible from Tokyo with portable cellular base stations, food, and water jugs. They then paid cash for bicycles from people off of the street and biked 50 miles the rest of the way in, carrying all of these supplies with them.
As a public service, Cyclelicious staffers called businesses in the Bay Area to quiz them on their readiness for a major quake. We specifically asked them if they have bicycles on hand. Here's a sample of the answers we received:
Chain Reaction Bicycles, Los Altos, CA: "We carry Trek."
Performance Bicycle, Redwood City, CA: "Come by and take a look." (After pressing for a real Yes or No answer) "Yes, we have all kinds of bikes."
Mike's Bikes, Palo Alto, CA: "Yes, we're a bike shop. We have bikes."
Bike Connection, Menlo Park, CA: "Si. Un momento por favor..."
Palo Alto Bicycles, Palo Alto, CA: "Ha ha. Yeah, we might have a bike or two around."
REI, San Jose, CA: "One moment, let me transfer you to bikes..."
An astounding 100% of Bay Area businesses in our survey have bicycles available! In the event of a major quake, it looks like we'll be fine as far as getting a set of wheels is concerned. For your personal quake preparation, be sure to keep extra tubes, patch kits, and a pump ready and available.