IU faculty and staff plan to commute on two wheels for National Bike to Work Day
May 18, 2016
IU employees will air up their bike tires, fasten their helmets and hit the road for National Bike to Work Day on May 20. But it’s not just taking part in the national celebration of cycling that’s got their spokes spinning.
For Amy Roche, a teacher at IU’s Campus View Child Care Center, pedaling to work is a chance to gain a more intimate perspective of the environment.
“I like the fresh air, being closer in touch with my surroundings, seeing people out in the open and just noticing more about what is going on around me,” Roche said.
Cycling is also a way to reduce dependency on fossil fuels, she said.
Since 2012, Roche has been hopping on her Dutch-style bike with a hub gear and covered chain to commute to work. She travels about two miles each way, and she’s not the only cyclist on the road.
Charles McClary, principal database administrator for research technologies at UITS, uses his daily four-mile commute as an opportunity to exercise and find some head space.
“It’s an excellent time to gather my thoughts for the day when I’m heading to work or clear my head when heading home. I just flat out enjoy riding my bike when I can,” McClary said.
He’s been riding his road bike with fenders to work since 2002, and says he feels invigorated and gets a sense of accomplishment when he takes to the pavement on two wheels.
While Roche and McClary like the exercise and freedom of cycling, they admit biking to work can pose challenges.
Depending on the temperature, cycling can work up a sweat, so you may not want to ride a bike to a meeting in the middle of the day, McClary said. On those days, it’s just better to drive.
To overcome biking’s challenges, Roche and McClary advise planning ahead.
“It requires a lot of forethought and sometimes packing changes of clothes, rain gear, and snacks or other supplies,” Roche said.
Roche points out that it’s OK to ease into biking to work.
“I think it is important to remember that one can be a bike commuter part of the time. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle conversion to be beneficial and fun,” she said.
If you’re interested in participating in National Bike to Work Day on Friday, Roche and McClary have a couple of recommendations for places to take your bike around IU’s campus.
“I like to ride through campus on Seventh Street when I’m returning from a bike ride in the north or west areas of the county because it’s just a pleasant part of town to ride through at the end of the day,” McClary said.
Roche’s favorite path to take is next to the IU Cinema.
“It's the only protected two-way bike path I've been on in Bloomington; it's a real treat to experience what that would be like if we developed protected bike lanes in Bloomington, which I hope we do,” she said.
Roche and McClary aren’t the only employees cycling to campus, said Kent McDaniel, transportation liaison and demand manager for IU Bloomington.
Just over 5 percent of IU’s faculty and staff ride bikes to work, according to a 2014 Transportation Demand Survey.
“A total of 155 faculty members responded in the survey that they rode bikes, which was 11 percent of all the faculty members who responded to that question,” McDaniel said.
After McDaniel retires this summer, he hopes to see a new transportation demand management and bicycle coordinator take on some of his bicycle-related duties and build on the work already done within the transportation department. The coordinator could start zeroing in on IU’s bicycle issues in the fall.
IU’s Bicycle Master Plan is available online, and you can find general walking and biking information on the Office of Parking Operation’s website. Go to the City of Bloomington’s website for a bicycle map and other information for cyclists in Bloomington and Monroe County.