Bike to Work Day—Who’s In?

By Aaron Ferster

I’ve been working—and commuting—in Washington, DC since 1996 when I moved to the area from the Bronx for a job writing interpretive signs at the National Zoo.

My wife and I lived just behind the back entrance to the park. It was a five-minute ride to work, but 15-minutes home because of the big hill standing between my office and our apartment. If the traffic light at the bottom of our street was green, I could make it in without a single pedal stroke.

At that time, the notion of partaking in official “Bike to Work Day” festivities seemed almost comical. “It would take me longer to get to the event than it would to actually ride to work,” I bragged. Then a colleague told me about the t-shirts and free coffee.

I’ve been hooked ever since.

Apparently I’m not alone. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest American Community Survey (ACS), the number of Americans who use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work is up 14 percent since 2007, 36 percent from 2005, and 43 percent since 2000.

That’s all great news for EPA, an organization with a mission to protect human health and the environment. More bike commuting means less air pollution, cleaner skies, and healthier people.

Now that both my place of employment (EPA) and home (the suburbs) are farther apart, coasting to work is no longer an option. But I still fit riding into my commute as often as possible, and Bike to Work Day—which happens on May 20 this year—remains one of my favorite events of the year.

If you’ve been thinking of giving bike commuting a try, Bike to Work Day is a great opportunity. There are always plenty of other riders to draft behind or chat with, and there’s even free coffee and snacks at the end of the ride. Here in DC, local cycling organizations have set up “commuter convoys” from all directions to make it easy to find the best route.

Will you be riding to work on May 20? Why or why not? Use the comments section below to share your thoughts about your own plans and experiences.

About the author: Aaron Ferster is a science writer in EPA’s Office of Research and Development and the editor of Science Wednesday. Follow his progress as he rides in next Friday morning via EPA’s twitter account: @EPAgov.

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