Monday, April 14, 2008


Biking to work yields rewards: Cyclists enjoy health benefits, skip gas station, have time to reflect

Last May, Dr. Bob Lang parked his car in the garage of his Johnson Point-area home at the beginning of the Bicycle Commuter Contest. "And I didn't take it out for the month," the neurosurgeon said.
Not only did Lang, 60, ride his bike more than 20 miles round trip to Providence St. Peter Hospital almost daily, he also used pedal power to run all of his errands.
The result: Lang biked a whopping 1,218 miles during the month of May, the most miles reported i n the competition, which drew more than 1,000 participants.

Registration is open for this year's Bicycle Commuter Contest, also known as the BCC. It begins May 1 and is open to all Thurston County residents.

In its 21st year, the contest offers cycling education, free bike tune-ups, and prizes and awards. To participate, riders need to register, record and report their mileage during the month of May. The contest began in 1988 as a challenge between a few workplaces in Olympia and about 30 participants.

These days, it's organized by Intercity Transit and features an assortment of related events, such as next Sunday's Earth Day Market Ride, which encourages people to form neighborhood rides to Olympia Farmers Market, and the Wrencher's Ball, a free bicycle safety check at the Olympia Transit Center on April 25.

Organizers say the contest has grown mainly because more people are choosing to run their errands by bicycle and bike to work.

Surveys show bicycle commuting has increased more than 75 percent during the past decade, according to the state Department of Transportation.

"The level of interest in alternative travel modes has jumped substantially," said Meg Kester, a spokeswoman at IT. "... Commuting is expensive, and is getting more expensive every week."
Lang bikes to work during the spring, summer and fall. Besides saving gasoline money, he said it allows him to view wildlife and get a good cardio workout every day.

"I lost 17 pounds during the last contest," he said.
But riders say a lengthy commute isn't required to benefit from the experience. For example, Kathy Chapman only rides about two miles from her home to the state Department of Health in Tumwater, where she is a manager for the Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program.
It usually takes less time to ride than it does to drive.

"It's also easy to park," said Chapman, 42. "I don't have to worry about parking in the parking garage. I have front-door parking."

Last year's participants pedaled more than 87,000 miles during May, Kester said.
"There was a cumulative reduction of 80,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions," she said. "Anytime there is a reduction in CO2 emissions, that helps offset the greenhouse effect and the contribution on global warming."

Riders collectively saved more than $14,000 in gasoline money, as well, IT officials said.
Brian Mitchell, 35, of Olympia used last year's contest to begin a major lifestyle change - one that makes little use of his Nissan Frontier truck, which burned through more than $120 a month in gasoline. (read more)

What great coverage of the BCC and bicycle commuting! The article touched on three main points of bicycle commuting, and the contest, and why it exists:

First, the long hauls that Dr. Lang endures on his daily commute are very beneficial in that he saves a ton of money in gas prices and stays fit.

Second, the short trips that Kathy Chapman makes to her worksite, merely two miles away benefit her in a major way. She spends ten minutes biking to work, and ten minutes back, which does not seem like a lot, but adds up to 20 minutes a day of exercise that she would not get sitting in her car, AND she does not have to find parking once she gets there, she gets front row...and it's free.

Third, Brian Mitchell has started bike commuting because of the BCC which encouraged him to start when he joined for the first time last year. THIS is precisely what the BCC is all about. Way to go Brian, for starting a lifestyle change that spawned from the BCC.

Let's ALL get out and ride this year, and ditch those gas prices! ~KT


Anonymous said...

There has been such GREAT coverage of the BCC this year - and it hasn't even started! Public awareness of bicycle commuting is definitely increasing. Kudos to you, KT!!

Anonymous said...

This is great coverage by The Olympian. The community and sponsors are coming from everywhere in support of this event. Kerry Tarullo, contest coordinator, has taken this event to a whole new level. On the practical side, it's obvious that she is knowledgeable, organized and pays attention to detail. On the human side, she is community-minded and connected. WAY TO GO, KERRY TARULLO! KF