bicycling

The Sweet Spot: Riding to Work

 Alone with my thoughts as the pavement scrolls by under my wheels, it’s just the perfect symmetry to begin and end the work day.

Cyclists gather in downtown Washington, DC

Enjoying post-ride festivities on Bike to Work Day.

 

Reposted from “EPA Connect, the Official Blog of EPA Leadership.

By Lek Kadeli

There are times in life when everything seems to align. When you know you are in the right place at the right time, doing something that is at once productive and satisfying. I’ve found a regular activity that fits the bill: bicycle commuting.

I began making the switch to two-wheeled commuting over time. At first I was primarily looking for a way to build a bit more physical activity into my weekly routine. I began leaving the car at home from time to time in favor of riding. It turned out to be an easy transition.

At eleven-and-a-half miles, the distance between my home in Falls Church, Virginia and EPA’s headquarter offices in Washington, D.C., is an ideal length for riding: not too time-consuming, but long enough to feel like I’ve gotten some exercise. Even more encouraging is that the majority of the route is along the Martha Custis trail, a paved and well-maintained bike path.

Over the years I found myself driving less and less. So much so that I’ve now completely given it up—along with the expensive downtown parking spot. When I don’t ride I take the metro, which is the only place I catch myself longing for those warm spring evenings when I would enjoy the occasional cigar as I drove home with the top down in my convertible. But I don’t even miss those commutes when traveling under my own power. Alone with my thoughts as the pavement scrolls by under my wheels, it’s just the perfect symmetry to begin and end the work day.

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Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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A Bike-Friendly EPA Headquarters

By Ed Fendley

It’s awesome to be part of an agency that’s helped clean America’s air and water and is working to reduce emissions of deadly mercury. Now I’ve got a new – and local – reason to appreciate the EPA: outdoor bicycle racks here at our headquarters buildings.

Recently, four sets of modern bike racks were installed outside at the Federal Triangle campus in Washington, D.C., as part of a broader EPA plan to welcome bicycling by employees and visitors. (We already have bike parking in our basement garages.)

Giving people choices in how to get around is a great thing. Studies show that if people can conveniently walk, bike, or take transit, many of them will choose to drive less – reducing traffic and cleaning the air.

And that fits neatly into our mission at EPA. According to EPA’s Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2009 (April 2011), roughly 17 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions come from passenger vehicles. Investing in public transit and other transportation options, like biking, make it easier for people to drive less, lowering greenhouse gas emissions. These approaches can also help reduce carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants emitted by motor vehicles.

As EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld recently wrote, there are lots of good reasons to ride a bike – including pure joy. I can relate: my kids and I ride a lot. They bike to school and we often tool around on the weekends together. I’ve also ridden to work for 20 years now. It’s exciting to see that bicycling rates are increasing rapidly across the country.

Building design is part of that. Convenient bike parking, as well as showers and lockers, get more people riding. Placing racks within 50 feet of building entrances is recommended as it helps visitors who may not have access to the parking garage. It also helps employees like me who bike during the day to meetings around town.

As more employees and visitors choose to ride, EPA will need to make further improvements. But for the moment, I’ll pause to celebrate as I park my bike and stroll into my office.

About the author: Ed Fendley is a senior policy analyst with the Office of Sustainable Communities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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#Biketowork: Who’s in?

My morning commute: #Biketowork

My morning commute

This evening I’ll be inflating my tires, stashing a spare tube or two in my saddle bag, and laying out my EPA cycling jersey by the dresser in preparation for my favorite commute of the year.  After waiting patiently and not-so-patiently for 364 long days, Bike to Work Day is finally upon us!

Whether you are using the organized event to join a commuter convoy and give riding to work a try for the first time, or if you are already a champion—like EPA scientist Mostafa (Safa) Shirazi who has ridden  some 132,000 miles getting to work and back over the last 45 years(!)—Bike to Work Day is a great excuse to join in on the fun.

I’ll be rolling out for my own commute from suburban Maryland to EPA’s headquarters in downtown Washington, DC around 6:30 a.m. Like I did last year, I’ll stop periodically to “Tweet” highlights from my ride, and invite you to follow via @EPALive.

For those following or adding their own “Tweets” to the mix,  I’ll be using #Biketowork.

The weather report for the morning is perfect, so if you have ever been tempted to join the rolling party that is Bike to Work Day, this should be the year.

In just a few more hours the ride will be on! Who’s in?

About the Author:  EPA science writer-editor Aaron Ferster is the editor of It All Starts with Science. While he has a long way to go before matching the number of miles ridden by his colleague Safa Shirazi, he’s looking forward to the chase.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Going Green and Making Friends: Bike to Work 2012

By Christina Motilall

“HAPPY BIKE TO WORK DAY!”

This could be heard all over Friday, May 18th near EPA headquarters as grinning faces greeted each other with well-Bike to Word Day festivitieswishes and high-fives for DC’s 56th annual Bike to Work Day. Bicycle commuters buzzed around getting free food, coffee, and knick-knacks as local community leaders spoke about the importance of biking to work as a habit. Yet this green event brings about a major question: Is biking to work a viable option in today’s car-dominated cities?

Personally, I think the answer is YES. My first exposure to Bike to Work Day (and Bike to Work Month) was in Bloomington, Indiana where I interned at the county Planning Department. The city and county are adamant about making cycling a popular mode of transportation and the push for alternative transportation is big. In helping to create promotional materials for the event, I stumbled upon page after page of local governments marketing their own Bike to Work Day. The more I learned about the event the more I realized employers and individuals everywhere from small-town southern Indiana to large cities like Oakland are jumping on the bike-wagon and growing the trend of biking to work to decrease pollution and congestion while promoting greener living and better health. Saving a couple extra bucks on gas is an added perk.

Being new to the DC area, I got a real taste for how much Bike to Work Day has grown in DC after talking to a few avid cyclists from the area. Ellen Jones, Director of Infrastructure and Sustainability at the Downtown DC Business Improvement District (BID), was pleased with the turnout. “This day has gone from one event in one place with 400 riders to 60 pit stops with over 12,000 riders.” She also stated that BID believes in “promoting bicycling because if it is easier to get downtown, businesses benefit.” Some cyclists came from right down the street while others biked across the river to make the day a huge success.

The large crowd induced smiles as cyclists detailed how Bike to Work day creates a bond between cyclists in the greater DC area. Jacqueline Keller, a ‘Bike Ambassador’ for the Washington Area Bicycling Association shared that Bike to Work Day “makes you feel like there is a DC cycling community.”

So next year strap on that helmet, trade in your four wheels for two, and join in National Bike to Work Day to go green, make friends, and feel good.

About the author: Christina Motilall is an intern for the Office of Research and Development’s Science Communications Team.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Bike to Work, It's Easier Than You Think!

By Joe Edgell.

Gas prices skyrocket. Delays on the subway. Accidents on the Beltway. Police and fire activity blocking roads and snarling traffic.

Seems like there’s no way to get to work easily, on time, and with minimal cost.

Unless you consider commuting by bike. And this Friday, May 18 is Bike-to-Work Day, the perfect time to see how it works.

Here are the top ten reasons to join me and about 10,000 other bicyclists this Friday:

  1. According to the Outdoor Foundation, bicycling is the second most popular outdoor activity in the United States;
  2. Adults who bike to work have better weight, blood pressure, and insulin levels;
  3. Women who bike 30 minutes a day have a lower risk of breast cancer;
  4. Bicycling boosts the economy, with $5.6 billion in bikes and equipment sold in 2009;
  5. On a round-trip commute of 10 miles, bicyclists save around $10 daily;
  6. Traffic congestion wastes nearly 3.9 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S.;
  7. Increased bicycling decreases vehicle traffic accidents;
  8. The transportation sector is responsible for 71% of all U.S. petroleum use.
  9. Bicycling produces only 21 grams of CO2 per person per kilometer, compared to 101 grams of CO2 per passenger per kilometer for buses, and a whopping 271 grams per passenger per kilometer for cars; and most importantly
  10. The health benefits of cycling outweigh the risks by a factor of 20 to one!*

And today bicycling is easier than ever. There are electric motor-assisted bicycles to help you with that push up the hill, bike sharing so you don’t have to worry about maintenance, and shower facilities at many employers, such as EPA.

Come out this Friday, bike with a group of people to a nearby celebration (or the massive celebration at the Reagan Building if you’re in DC), and take the first step in de-stressing your morning commute by biking to work.

I’ve been biking to work for the past eight years and love it. I’m healthier and happier. You’ll find it changes your entire outlook on the day!

*A special thanks to Bikesbelong.org for the biking benefits studies.

General information about biking to work

About the author: Joe Edgell is an attorney for the Office of General Counsel. Perched atop the bicycling baby seat, he’s been bicycling since before he could walk.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Upcycle!

It’s doubtful that clothing, jewelry, furniture, or even building materials comes to mind, right? Perhaps you were picturing bicycling uphill instead?

In fourth grade, my best friend was way ahead of the curve. She took a cracker box, paper towel roll, pieces of an empty cereal box, purple paint, sparkles, and glue to give another friend of ours a moving away gift they’d never forget.

Many would have overlooked and discarded that stuff to disintegrate in a landfill somewhere. Instead, she scooped them up and created a masterful “mantelpiece.”

Nowadays upcycled goods and ideas are everywhere. Granted, most of them are a bit more professionally constructed, but the idea is very much the same.

Our first Pick 5 stories featured upcycling. The lusakaU.S. Embassy in Lusaka, Zambia, shared with us that they were donating their rubbish to local upcyclers who made more useful and artistic goods such as reusable bags and paper.

In another story, a group of widows and single moms in Chikumbuso, Zambia, were crocheting strips of plastic grocery bags into more durable reusable bags and making beads from glass. The sales were supporting a school for their children and the community’s orphans.

LusakaUpcycling is good for us. It cuts down on our waste that ends up in the environment, helps spread awareness and inspiration for environmental action and can support local artisans and communities. Personally, I’d rather give and receive handmade gifts any day, especially if the purchase was supporting a good cause.

Could this work for a school or community fundraiser event near you? Spread the word and get others to join you, or try a family upcycling challenge. Join 8,183 others and make upcycling part of your Pick 5, share your story and inspire others to do the same.

In two weeks, I’ll feature a new upcycling story from you in a blog post and at www.epa.gov/Pick5.

Share your story Flickr, here as a comment, or on Facebook. I can’t wait to see what you create!

About the author: Jeanethe Falvey writes from EPA’s Office of External Affairs and Environmental Education, as the project-lead for Pick 5 and the State of the Environment, two projects geared towards learning, sharing and gaining a greater collective connection to our environment.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Science Wednesday: Burning Environmentally Friendly Energy

Each week we write about the science behind environmental protection. Previous Science Wednesdays.

About the author: Barbara Klieforth is the Acting Associate Center Director for Drinking Water in the National Center for Environmental Research at EPA’s Office of Research and Development. She is also a life-long committed cycling commuter.

image of author standing next to her mountain bicycleWhile ‘being green’ is not the only reason I bike to work (it’s also fun and faster!), it is something I think about – especially since I do some of my best thinking on my commute into the office. As a scientist I was trained to be a critical thinker, but as an EPA scientist I have be more thorough than ever because we have to substantiate doing new research and our science directly impacts people’s lives. So, especially now during national ‘bike to work’ week, I find myself wondering how to quantify the environmental benefits of my 6.5 mile ride to the office. Economically, bike commuting is a no-brainer: I easily save thousands of dollars a year biking versus driving. But, in strictly environmental terms, is commuting by bike worth the risks it poses (including forgetting such things as dress shoes!)? There are lots of cool online tools that calculate the environmental benefits of biking (e.g., Go by Bike Challenge, EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator), but one of my favorite sites simply compares the energy costs per kilometer of different forms of transportation.

In other words, the bicycle is an extremely efficient mode of transportation, and I am definitely saving plenty of energy per mile (good thing I have lots of personal calories to spare!). Less fossil energy burned = less polluting emissions. I know from some of my current focus at work on the geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide that technological solutions to environmental problems we could be helping prevent in the first place are incredibly daunting. So I’d say no further research is needed to confirm that there are substantial environmental benefits to bicycling as a means of transportation. I can do something today to decrease pollution, reduce usage of fossil fuels, and have some fun on the way!

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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