Baltazar De Anda Santana and the
Tour of the Latino Family
Biking for Unity
”Led by Oboi Reed, president and CEO of Equiticity, the
ride was a vehicle to get people of color onto bikes and
moving through South Madison. They would be joined by
other community members and members of local non-
profits and social justice agencies.

The decision was made to continue the rides and make
them a monthly event. De Anda Santana shares his joy
and frustrations with the ride. “It has been a great
experience, but we still have a lot of work to do,” De
Anda Santana said. “People say, ‘Great job with the Unity
Ride.’ I say no, we need to do better.
By Hedi Rudd

Baltazar De Anda Santana is a force. When you meet him, you are drawn into his passion for
life, for people and if you let him, he is going to hook you into his world and never let you go.
When many people first met Baltazar, he was working to help Latino men and women find
employment via the Latino Academy of Workforce Development that he headed up in the Bridge-
Lake Point and Vera Court neighborhoods.

That De Anda Santana was 95 pounds heavier, prediabetic, had an expired driver’s license
and was living in Madison as an undocumented immigrant. That De Anda Santana was angry
and tired of being afraid of being pulled over and possibly deported.

That De Anda Santana decided that rather than be afraid, he would reclaim his dignity and find
an alternative. That alternative was biking. In November of 2014, he got on his old bike and
started riding to work. He didn’t know anything about biking. In fact, he hated biking.

“The biking experience I had as a child is going downhill and almost getting killed when I was eight-years old,” De
Anda Santana said. “The other was when my mom told me and my brother don’t go out, so what did we do? We went
out on our bikes and got into an accident.”

Today, De Anda Santana is 95 pounds lighter, no longer prediabetic, has a valid driver’s license and is a permanent
resident, married to his husband and has found his purpose, his path. That path is more often than not, a bike path.
“Biking gave me dignity; biking gave me the opportunity to not be afraid of the police,” he acknowledged. “When I
got my green card and driver’s license, my husband said, ‘Now you can buy a car!’ and I said, ‘No I don’t want to
forget my connection to my undocumented community, I still want to be able to experience the same issues.’ One of
them is transportation.”

After leaving The Latino Academy in 2016, De Anda Santana became the director of Community and Volunteer
Engagement at United Way of Dane County. “It lasted a year,” De Anda Santana shared. “My soul wasn’t happy. I
would look out the window and see the bikers and I thought to myself, I want to work with something to do with
biking. I want to get paid for biking.”

He applied for a position as an ambassador for the Share and Be Aware program with the Wisconsin Bike
Federation. It was a part-time position and paid considerably less, but that did not matter as he was doing what he
loved. De Anda Santana would eventually become a full-time employee of the Bike Fed as the director of
programming.
“One of the things I love about my job with the Bike Fed is that they have given me the opportunity to be creative and to voice my opinion. Yes, we may be this
platinum community when it comes to biking, but for us Black and Brown folks we are still struggling.”

“This is something new that the Bike Fed is doing,” De Anda Santana shared. “Traditionally it’s been a membership organization. This is the first time that we have
delved into bike equity.”.

In 2017, De Anda Santana rode for 24 hours straight in support of refugees and immigrants and raised close to $2,000. He was joined by other community members,
many of whom were also Latino. It was then that the conversation started around creating a club for Latino bikers. One year ago, the Tour of the Latino Family was
created, a riding event. The organizers then came together and founded BiciClub Latino de Madison, Madison’s first Latino bike group.
I am critical as we are basically bringing ‘people
of means’ to the Southside, and we are still not
seeing the numbers of people of color increasing. It’
s like bringing tourists. I am not going to be happy
until we reach more people of color.”

Taking it further, he summed up his motivations. “I
don’t want to just be seen as a person who loves
biking,” De Anda Santana said. “I want to be seen
as a person who loves community. Who is against
social injustice? Who wants to work towards
bettering our community? Who happens to use
bikes as an excuse?


Taking it further, he summed up his motivations. “I
don’t want to just be seen as a person who loves
biking,” De Anda Santana said. “I want to be seen
as a person who loves community. Who is against
social injustice? Who wants to work towards
bettering our community? Who happens to use
bikes as an excuse?”

If you are interested, you can join De Anda Santana
and the BiCiClub Latino de Madison as they
celebrate their first year with a Tour of the Latino
Family ride and picnic, Saturday September 22
from 10 a.m. -1 p.m. The ride starts at Olin Park.
“We didn’t make leaders, we discovered them. Nadia, Hector, Saul, Norma, Betty and others became organizers.” De Anda Santana explained, naming several of the
people who are now seen as leaders in the Latino Bicycling movement.

Many of those individuals would go on to take part in another initiative, the Madtown Unity Ride. The ride was originally created as a one-off event for the Wisconsin
Bike Summit, organized by the Wisconsin Bike Federation.