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Introducing HER Helmet Thursdays: An Ecology-Economy Partnership

[This introduction was first published November 24, 2009.  For updated information, go to the Quick Links page.]

Shucks! Gotta bike back home and grab my helmet so I don’t miss out on discounts around the county today.

Laurel Thomsen with a bike valet in Monterey.

The HER Helmet Thursdays project is not about helmets, or females.

Read on to learn why the project is called HER Helmet Thursdays!

Looking for “Business/organization sign-up”? Or, where to get discounts?

  • If you have a business or organization and would like to sign up, click here.
  • Where to get discounts? See listings for all HER Helmet Thursdays participantsclick here.
  • Who were the early leaders? See Charter Participants; click here.

Only have two minutes?

For a two-minute audio or video intro, click here.  For written introduction, read below….

Helping to make a better  future for her children and grandchildren…

This grandmother takes an environmental action when she bikes.  Now it’s possible to take both an ecology action and an economy action, just by biking her grandchild to the children’s museum, to lunch,  or elsewhere.  Read on….

Introducing HER Helmet Thursdays

Oh, biking to lunch…so this is a restaurant discount program? No, although restaurants are included, there are other categories of businesses and organizations too.

From the National Steinbeck Center and the California Fox Theater in Salinas to MY Museum and The Duck Club in Monterey, from Doris Day’s Cypress Inn in Carmel-by-the-Sea to  Sanctuary Beach Resort in Marina and the Monterey Hostel, from Scheid Winery in Greenfield to Cafe Rustica in Carmel Valley and Passionfish in Pacific Grove, from Jose’s Lounge Underground toTaqueria del Mar in New Monterey–all are part of a rapidly growing number of places where you  get a discount in Monterey County on Thursdays just because you ride a bicycle!

The project is for locals and tourists, males and females. Read on to learn more.

Assistant Editor Kera Abraham of the Monterey County Weekly discovered she can save money at the cafe in the neighborhood where she lives and works if she brings her helmet on Thursdays.  No need for a punch card, coupons, or stickers–just walk in with a bike helmet, as evidence you biked there!


* * * * *

What’s up with the bike helmet buzz?

There’s a new ecology-economy partnership in Monterey County, with businesses and organizations partnering with cyclists.

In a nutshell: HER Helmet Thursdays means that Hotels, Educational attractions and Entertainment venues, and Restaurants (and related places) encourage bicycling by giving a discount to cyclists on Thursdays.   Only cyclists, only Thursdays.

And theHelmet”? Walking in with a bike helmet is simply the way to show you biked there (or did the bike-and-ride, which is an acceptable alternative).  For lodging providers, there are special options to show you’ll be cycling in Monterey County:  BYOB (bring your own bike), or rent a bike for a day or longer from any Monterey County shop.

HER Helmet Thursdays has been created and launched as a community service project in Monterey County.  Neither the cyclists nor the charter participating businesses/organizations pay any fee to participate.  It’s a voluntary partnership between them,  facilitated by this project.

HER Helmet Thursdays is simple and straightforward. And as you’ll see, the beneficial impacts are many!

HER Helmet Thursdays was launched Thanksgiving Week 2009.  Check out the charter participants!

The following key posts tell what the project is all about, and how it works:

  1. [This post] Introducing HER Helmet Thursdays:  An Ecology-Economy Partnership (11/24)
  2. HER Helmet Thursdays, Part II – Frequently asked questions (12/5)
  3. HER Helmet Thursdays:  Ecology-Economy Leaders – Charter participants (detailed list), including tips on cycling there!

What do those “H-E-R” categories include?

The HER” in HER Helmet Thursdays refers to Mother Earth, who benefits from more people cycling.   Both the cyclists (directly) and the businesses (indirectly) are showing their support for HER/Mother Earth. How? By reducing carbon emissions, noise pollution, air pollution, and water pollution (oil runoff into Monterey Bay).  For more info, see the City of Monterey’s page about transportation and its impact on the environment.

“HER” is also an acronym for Hotels, Educational attractions and Entertainment venues, and Restaurants. Also included are related businesses and organizations in each of those categories, as follows:

H = Hotels, motels, inns, bed and breakfasts, etc.  This includes any business—or organization, such as hostel—that provides lodging.

E = Educational attractions and Entertainment venues.  This is an especially diverse category, ranging from movie theatres and music venues to science attractions and history museums.  It can include just about any place that is experienced as entertaining or educational.

R = Restaurants (formal or informal), as well as coffee shops, sit-down delicatessens, etc.  This includes any place that serves food or beverages that may be enjoyed on the premises–including wineriesFormal places? Yes, please refer to Part II.

Not sure if your business or organization fits one of the H-E-R categories?  Please contact me to find out.

This little flier says people can save money by biking, or doing the bike-and-ride, to places all over our county.  My boss is so cool, being part of this project!

Nice, but we don’t get a lot of cyclists

At first, one might think this project is only for places close to the multi-use/bike path.  Or, you may think that it’s intended for the places that cater to tourists— or, instead, just for those spots frequented mostly by locals.  Some people will assume it is appropriate only for casual and inexpensive places, while others will imagine it was designed only with the most elegant places in mind.

So what places is it for?  It’s for all of those!  Participation in HER Helmet Thursdays  is appropriate for all H-E-R businesses and organizations in Monterey County!  And whether they get a lot of cyclists on a regular basis, or only a cyclist or two from their own neighborhood once in a blue moon, by being part of this project they are making a valuable contribution.

Here’s why:

“Monterey County, one of the most bicycling friendly places in America!”

Those words are not being spoken of by everyone yet, even though many people do already enjoy the fun and convenience of bicycling here.  With an 18-mile coastal trail, plenty of mountain bike trails in rural locations, natural beauty everywhere, and year-round mild weather, we have a head start on earning that title.   There are lots of places to bike all over the county!

Sure, there’s room for improvement in our cycling infrastructure. Meanwhile, biking in Monterey County is already wonderful. And by putting out a unique welcome mat to cyclists, the participants in HER Helmet Thursdays make it even better! [3/23/12 update: Monterey County is the first in America to offer a discounts-for-bicyclists program! Learn more at Goals and Overview of HER Helmet Thursdays.]

The leaders of businesses and organizations participating in this project recognize that their decision, combined with that of others, makes a significant difference in creating a more bike friendly culture, for both locals and tourists.

As more people bicycle—with many using bike-and-ride options, too —they will have a new, up-close and personal experience of our communities.  And although most will still use motor vehicles, as needed, traffic will lessen in typically congested areas.  That’s another positive result of more bicycling, and it benefits not just the cyclists (who don’t have to search for parking or wait in traffic), it also improves the situation for those who do need to use their vehicles.

By their statement of support for bicycling here, every business or organization who participates in HER Helmet Thursdays is helping.  That is true no matter their location, and no matter how many cyclists bike to their establishment.  They are part of the big picture, a new way to look at–and experience–Monterey County.

Irene and Jeff Dibble of Sonoma County discovered there is not only free info and support for biking in Monterey County, there are discounts for biking here too!

Why Monterey County?

Enthusiasm has been growing for cycling in Monterey County, and this interest is shared by many other regions too.

Within the first two weeks—with no press releases submitted—San Luis Obispo County businesses wanted to know:  is there a HER Helmet Thursdays in SLO?  They were all set to join in!   There are Santa Cruz County businesses asking to participate in our project, too.

Because Monterey County is my home, since 1981, it is the first location for this project.  However, the project could be established in any geographic location. Please contact me if you’d like to get HER Helmet Thursdays  going in another locale.

But what is an ecology-economy partnership?

An ecology-economy partnership is ecologically wise/benefits the environment, and it is economically sound too.  It supports environmental sustainability, and it supports economic sustainability.

Mayors of the Monterey County cities of Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Salinas signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.  Their cities, along with other Monterey County cities, are taking new steps to have a positive impact on climate change and other ecological concerns.  One of these steps is increasing their support for bicycling.

Here’s an example.  Finding a convenient parking place can be a big deal when you are driving a car, and municipal leaders know the same can be true when you are riding a bicycle.

Something as “ordinary” (not ordinary everywhere)  as making plenty of bicycle parking places (i.e., bike racks or corrals) available helps to promote bicycling.  And making it quick and easy for cyclists to lock up their bikes not only means more people will cycle, it also means those cyclists will make more stops at local businesses and other attractions.

Some businesses voluntarily put in additional bike racks too.  These businesses recognize that bike racks are a quiet example of an ecology-economy partnership, helping to sustain both.

HER Helmet Thursdays is exactly this kind of ecology-economy partnership.  It’s a new way for every type of lodging, education/entertainment, or dining business or organization to encourage bicycling, as they also encourage visitors to patronize their businesses/organizations.

Where did the idea come from?

The idea came to me in October 2009, on Cannery Row, when the manager of a local business mentioned that they were seeking ways to increase their business.  They were starting a “half-off Fridays” program.  That inspired my idea of cyclists and businesses showing their mutual support for one another, and for HER/Mother Earth, through the HER Helmet Thursdays project.

When did HER Helmet Thursdays start?

On Nov 17th, I stopped in at another local business to drop off a Tips for Bicycling Monterey County poster.  The owner wanted the poster to share with customers, as so many Monterey County businesses do.

I casually mentioned the HER Helmet Thursdays idea, and the owner immediately wanted to participate.  So, I created the project in response to the enthusiasm and commitment of just one local business owner.  (Who says one person can’t make a difference!) And appropriately enough, in gratitude for this beautiful place, the project was launched Thanksgiving Week 2009.

How does HER Helmet Thursdays work?

  1. Cyclists make a special effort to support participating businesses/organizations, especially on Thursdays.  To get the discount, they bike (or bike-and-ride) to the business/other venue,  enter with helmet in hand, and mention HER Helmet Thursdays.  For lodging discounts, there are special arrangements; see below or click here.
  2. Participating businesses/organizations give cyclists a discount every Thursday, except for certain restricted dates, as mentioned below.

Every H-E-R business or organization is encouraged to offer the discount percentage that works best for their establishment at this time.  If in the future they’d like to raise or lower the discount percentage, they are welcome to.  And, of course, if a participant ever wishes to drop out, they can simply let me know.

The project has no scheduled end-date. This is a long-term ecology-economy sustainability project.

I bike to Monterey from Santa Cruz regularly, then continue south to Big Sur.  Nice to know cyclists can get lodging and other discounts on Thursdays year-round!

Lodging discounts?  You mean they’ve gotta bike all the way to Monterey County?

Lodging businesses need a special option because, let’s face it, only serious cyclists will be likely to arrive at their place of lodging via bicycle.  Some do, of course.  But for those who don’t, they can still receive a Thursday night lodging discount if they bicycle during their stay.  How?

  1. Simply BYOB—bring your own bicycle.  Monterey County has a special meaning for that oft-used term!
  2. Another option:   rent a bicycle for one day or longer from any Monterey County shop.

For details, please refer to “How to Get a Lodging Discount on HER Helmet Thursdays.”

Lodging providers show this is a bicycling friendly place!

Every Thursday?  No date restrictions?

Every Thursday except for federal legal holidays and some local special-event weeks.  Out of respect for the extra pressures on establishment staff during these extra busy periods, there are some program-wide date restrictions; click here for those dates.

How to participate

These links will take you to pages on this site providing more information.

How can I keep in touch?

HER Helmet Thursdays is off to a terrific start, with charter participants including some of the most popular spots in the county!   You may keep in touch by doing one or all of the following:

  • Refer to the “All Participants” page.
  • You do not need to have a Twitter account to read a Twitter feed.  Just go to, where all new participants will be announced. There will also be occasional Tweets about what’s up with the individual participants, and a bit of other bike news.  If you’re on Twitter, follow@herhelmetthurs – and for more of that general bike news, follow @bikemonterey too.
  • You may subscribe to this site.  However, that will not alert you when there are new venues added to the lists of participants.  (They are  announced on Twitter.)
  • You are welcome to phone me anytime (831/375-6278).  (Click here for more detailed contact info.)

This is a beautiful place for cycling!

Whether a local or a visitor, many people love Monterey County.  Bicycling here is one way to more fully enjoy and help take care of this place you love.

For you, cycling might be a few-times-a-year outing while visiting grandchildren, a daily routine to commute to school or work, or a competitive sport that you are highly passionate about.

Whatever your interests and abilities, and whatever your level of cycling experience…

Bicycling Monterey County
provides an up-close, more personal experience
of this beautiful place.

 Bike or bike-and-ride to Big Sur, then hike up Garrapata Ridge….

View from Garrapata Ridge along the Big Sur Coast

If you are a local or visitor who needs route information or other info about bicycling Monterey County, see “Tips for Bicycling Monterey County.”

# # #

This post was published on 24 November 2009. One or more changes last made to this post on 4 December 2014.

  1. marilynch says:

    Thanks for another good idea, Nipper. A pump certainly conveys the message that one is cycling. Like you, I have one fastened to my bike, though–as with helmets–not everyone has one here. After polling some folks locally, the consensus was clear to stick with the name “HER Helmet Thursdays” and the bike helmet as the item to show. My dad often repeated Abe Lincoln’s words, “You can please some of the people some of the time; you can’t please all the people all the time.” Of course, I also remember my dad saying a lot, “It’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind!” Although no program-wide change about the helmet now, who knows? Tal vez mañana.

    As a result of your suggestion, I have welcomed any individual participating business or organization to allow a bike pump as an alternative to a helmet. And if they wish, I can add to their individual listing that they allow a helmet or a pump as evidence of cycling.

    Regarding Gianni’s, they not only have yummy pizza, but other tasty food, plus gelato! I’d love to have them join in on the HER Helmet Thursdays fun. The Sun eve uke club is apparently not mtg there anymore.

    Thank you for the link for my daughter, which I’ll pass on to her. She’s 21, and some of my fav times are when she plays Ingrid Michaelson songs on uke or guitar and I play along on piano while we sing together. Nothing better than making music with your kids–unless it’s a bike ride! My son and I used to combine the two; we made up a very corny song about our favorite bike route when he was quite young..and I certainly won’t embarrass him, or me, by sharing it here!

  2. Thanks for your kind and thoughtful response.

    I was thinking about how you could include all of the non-helmet owners in your scheme and wonder if presenting a ‘bicycle pump’ could be an alternative to a helmet when asking for a discount. It would be just as good a way to prove you were riding a bike and is a useful bit of kit for any everyday cyclist to carry. Indeed all my bicycles have a pump fitted to the frame as standard.

    On the ukulele front I am thrilled to hear your daughter is a ukulele player! I wonder if you have been to the Ukulele Club of Monterey? It looks like great fun. They have a you tube here the club details are;

    Sundays 5 – 8 pm
    Monterey’s Ukulele Club
    Gianni’s Pizza
    725 Lighthouse Ave
    Monterey, CA. Info: Steve Brooks (831) 624-7022

    (Are Gianni’s Pizza part of your Thursdays scheme? Can you recommend if there are safe routes for people to cycle to the club? Ukuleles are so easy to carry on a bicycle)

    I run a ukulele club in Taunton and have lots of free songbooks to down load, your daughter might like to check them out at (just click on the songbooks page).


  3. marilynch says:

    Thank you for sharing this info, Nipper. I sincerely appreciate it. Your helpful comment warrants my writing an entire new post, “It’s Not about the Helmet.” 🙂

    It makes sense that the name HER Helmet Thursdays™ seems to imply that the project is about promoting helmet use. However, it is not.

    To clarify, HER Helmet Thursdays is an ecology-economy partnership to encourage cycling in general. The goal of HER Helmet Thursdays is not to promote cycling safety, except by increasing the numbers of people who bicycle here. (See reference to Scottish report below.) Some Bicycling Monterey posts encourage using high-visibility apparel and accessories where those may be effective; there are no posts that discuss helmet use, pro or con.

    The discounts in HER Helmet Thursdays are indeed for all cyclists, not just for those who actually wear a helmet.

    HER Helmet Thursdays is a community service project created and launched in Monterey County by personal donations and volunteer time. There is no fee to participate. And there are no discount books or stickers to purchase, no punch cards or coupons to obtain. While those items may be very helpful in other programs, they are not part of this one. Instead, it is the bike helmet that is used as a way to show businesses and organizations that the individual is cycling.

    Walking in with a bike helmet in hand gets you immediate discounts on Thursdays at entertainment venues and educational attractions (the “E” in HER) and restaurants (the “R” of HER) at participating places all over Monterey County.

    To get a discount at hotels and other lodging places (the “H” category in HER Helmet Thursdays), cyclists show a rental receipt or rental agreement, or they may bring their own bike (no helmet necessary). For lodging businesses, showing a helmet isn’t requested, since it is very easy for these places to note the presence on their property of a guest’s bicycle.

    While California law does require children to wear a helmet, HER Helmet Thursdays doesn’t require any cyclist to wear a helmet while cycling (they can toss it in their daypack while cycling if they prefer). The helmet is simply their “admission” to saving money at lots of places throughout Monterey County.

    And, of course, I agree that better infrastructure and so much more are critical to cycling safety. As I pointed out in “Bicycling Reports to Scottish Parliament…,” their report made clear that as the number of people cycling increases in a community, the safety of cycling there increases. Increasing the number of people in Monterey County who cycle is the way that HER Helmet Thursdays hopes to bring many benefits, including increased safety, here. It’s not about the helmets! 🙂

    Your input about Holland and helmets was appreciated too. I previously had a picture at the top of this post showing a Dutch cyclist without a helmet. I had selected that image because the cyclist was dressed in suit and tie (as an example, for more formal places, of how a cyclist can arrive there dressed “appropriately”; cycling doesn’t necessarily mean casual dress). However, because of your input, I’ve removed that photo in order to avoid a mistaken impression about lower helmet use in Holland.

    I hope this helps to clarify why the “helmet” in HER Helmet Thursdays. And thank you again for sharing the helpful info.

  4. Hi Mari,

    Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    I am pleased to see you are trying to promote cycling in your local area…I would urge you to change tack…There is a lot of evidence to suggest that wearing cycle helmets is more dangerous than not wearing them, they encourage motorists to drive more dangerously when passing cyclists and they can increase the risk of some types of head injury. There are no studies that can link a decrease in head injuries with increased helmet use. You can find out all the information on cycle helmets at

    I have cycled for more than 30 years and do not wear a helmet because cycling is a safe activity; my children do not wear helmets for the same reason. The use of cycle helmets is promoted by the motor industry to try and shift blame for accidents from the motorist to the cyclist. The only way to have real safety for cyclists is to deal with the dangerous cars. We need better infrastructure, traffic calming and a criminal justice system that has a zero tolerance to dangerous driving. Car and lorry drivers need to be educated that they are driving very dangerous weapons and it is their responsibility to drive with care and respect for pedestrians and cyclists.

    Holland is in fact the safest place in the world for cyclists and has the lowest use of cycle helmets. The reason is that the Dutch put their emphasis on cycle infrastructure and driver education.

    I would ask you to read this post at David Hembrow’s wonderful blog it is food for thought when trying to promote cycle safety


  5. marilynch says:

    Thanks for your encouragement, Floann. You’re right that our entire country could easily enjoy this ecology-economy partnership. As online social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter) start catching the idea, HER Helmet Thursdays may grow faster than would have been imaginable in the past. And thanks for reminding of the health aspect too–health of the individual cyclists, as well as a healthier economy and planet. Glad you biked on your Monterey vacation, and hope you’ll be back soon!

  6. CONGRATULATIONS MARI & MONTEREY COMMUNITY LEADERS et al. on this awesome support to your biking smart residents and guests! BEST WISHES as this spreads nationwide! To your health!

  7. marilynch says:

    Thank you, Megan. And I love your Monterey Green Action bike valet parking services for special events here!

  8. Megan Tolbert says:

    This is a phenomenal idea!!! I love it, and I hope it catches on!

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