Why I Ride: A Conversation with Sanne Stark Fettinger
Updated: Apr 21
by Lisa Montanaro of The Bike Campaign. Published April 16, 2023
Sanne Stark Fettinger’s personal motto is “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” She has embodied that mantra since a young age. Sanne grew up in Denmark, where biking to school, rain or shine, was the most natural thing to do. It was part of the culture. As a child, Sanne loved being in the saddle, whether on a bike or a horse. As a young adult, she carried her love of biking with her to Switzerland, where she used the bike as a means of transportation to get to work and didn’t own a car. She then lived on the East Coast of the United States for twelve years where she found herself biking much less than she had in Europe. Thankfully, she made her way to Davis, CA in 2004 and was delighted to find such a bike-friendly community waiting for her.
Sanne quickly put her energy into volunteering for Davis’ bike community, starting with a program at Birch Lane Elementary School called Save a Gallon. Volunteers scanned students when they got to school by bike, so parents knew they arrived safely. She spread the word, helping to grow the program into the thriving city-wide version it is today, encompassing all Davis public schools and going by the name Active4Me.
In 2010, Sanne, along with Christal Waters and Kristen Muir, created Loopalooza. It is an annual event hosted by the City of Davis in collaboration with Bike Davis to encourage people of all ages to get out on their bikes and cycle the 12-mile Davis Bike Loop through parks, greenbelts, and the UC Davis campus. The event is well attended, with approximately 500 people participating, who start anywhere on the Bike Loop and go in either direction. This year the event will take place on May 7, and promises to be a fun ride for all. Along the Bike Loop, there are eleven stations hosted by local organizations. Participants can expect loads of fun activities throughout like helmet decorating, water balloons, sidewalk chalking, and more. Sanne is thrilled that this year marks the thirteenth anniversary of the Loopalooza event. “The original idea for Loopalooza was to have stations near the schools to provide parents/caregivers with information on how to get to school using active transportation. Then we partnered with the City of Davis and Bike Davis, and it grew into this fantastic event we have today.” For more information about Loopalooza, visit https://www.bikedavis.us/loopalooza.
Sanne has been a Board member of Bike Davis since 2014 and has served as its Treasurer for years. The mission of Bike Davis is to encourage and promote bicycling, improve infrastructure, influence policy, and advocate for a vibrant bicycle culture in Davis. As someone who has lived in Europe and experienced first-hand its excellent bike lanes, infrastructure, and bike parking and storage, Sanne enjoys working to improve upon bicycle culture in Davis. Bike Davis’s website states: “The bicycle is the official symbol of the City of Davis. Bike Davis envisions Davis as a city where bicycling is the priority mode of travel, and we are committed to challenging and inspiring the citizens of Davis to reconnect with nature and their neighbors in pursuit of better health, kindred community, and the pure joy of riding a bike. We envision a city that tirelessly promotes and preserves a comfortable, beautiful, and convenient bicycle network year-round for cyclists of all ages. We hope that the rich bicycle heritage in Davis will continue to distinguish us as the Bicycle Capital of America.” Sanne appreciates the advanced Davis bike culture, but also respects that the city is constantly looking at ways to improve and not resting on its laurels. Her dream is that when Davis public schools send out notices about school events, the default expectation would be that students, parents, and visitors would arrive by bike and the secondary mode would be by car.
Sanne bikes these days for transportation, errands, and pleasure. She also commutes by bike to her job at UC Davis, where she’s been employed since 2005. As a health coach, she likes to model the behavior she’s advocating for. And nothing would make her happier than seeing the smiling faces of community members on their own bikes, participating in Loopalooza on May 7th – or any day of the year for that matter!
This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned by The Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Drive Less. Ride More.”, contact Maria Contreras Tebbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.TheBikeCampaign.com.
Lisa Montanaro is the author of the book The Ultimate Life Organizer and is a freelance writer for print and online publications. Her debut novel will be published in 2024 by Red Adept Publishing. When not writing, Lisa helps organizations and people be more productive. And when not working or writing, Lisa can be found on two wheels cycling!