The New Bike Commuter…. 45 Years and 132,000 Miles Later

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By Max Sevareid

Mostafa (Safa) Shirazi recently turned 80 years old. However, age has not kept Safa off his bike while working as a environmental research scientist with the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory Western Ecology Division facility in Corvallis, Oregon; Safa has biked to work daily since 1969. He estimates he’s bike commuted 132,000 miles, more than most cars on the road today!

Safa initially had a 6 mile round trip bike to the EPA. For the last 28 years, his commute has been 15 miles round trip by bike. What motivates him? Safa says “Just do it! Don’t think about it. Rain? Fine. Snow? Just walk, or walk your bike.” Safa wants to “live within his means – the nation needs to do that. We consume too much energy.” Just as Safa still chops the wood that heats his house to this day, his bike commuting helps him stay healthy. Asked how he stays safe, Safa says “you learn to be safe on a bike – take your time. Be careful.” He recommends reflective clothing and blinkers; Safa even wears blinker lights strapped to his trousers to encourage greater visibility. While segments of his commute have worried him in the dark and rain, local drivers look out for him since “everybody knows in town that I ride”.

Biking 132,000 miles to his federal job, Safa has saved about 129,360 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Last year, Safa was a member of an EPA bike to work team logging miles during a month-long challenge. He logged more miles than his younger, fellow team members – 285 miles over 19 round trips – and achieved a 100% bike commute rate. EPA and other federal riders can still join this May’s Federal Bike-To-Work Challenge to be like Safa – see details here.

About the author, Max Sevareid, NHTSA Region 10 of the USDOT.  In partnership with the EPA Region 10 and local bicycle advocacy groups, Max encourages bicycle commuting and safety among federal agencies through bicycle commute challenges.  Max and his wife, Tiffany, try to incorporate bike commuting into their lives every day.

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