Commuters Urged to Bike to Work on May 18
Posted: May 10, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am
By David Driver
The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) are encouraging people to bike to work on Friday, May 18.
The two organizations have teamed up to host one of the largest “Bike to Work Day” events in the country.
The groups expect at least 6,500 bicyclists in the region to bike to work. The annual event is part of the COG Commuter Connections program and promotes a healthy and environmentally-friendly alternative to the use of personal cars.
It will not take much persuasion to bike to work for several Mason employees, including Tansy Matthews and Nicolas Tan, since they already do so on a regular basis.
Matthews, associate director of the Virtual Library of Virginia, which is based in Mason’s Fenwick Library, has been biking about four days a week since she started work at Mason in September. She lives in Oakton, and the ride of about five miles takes her between 25 and 40 minutes.
Why does she bike to work?
“Of course, gas is very, very expensive,” says Matthews, who is also a competitive runner. “Then there are the environmental issues. It is more environmentally conscious to ride a bike to work. The traffic around here is so crazy.”
Even though the route by car from her home to Mason is shorter — 3.5 miles — Matthews says it takes about the same amount of time as biking. “I would rather be out in the sunshine,” she says.
Tan, a photographer in Creative Services, has been riding his bike to work as much as possible for nearly two years. He lives near the border of Fairfax City and Fairfax County, and says a one-way trip to Mason is about two to three miles.
“When it is nice out I try to bike as much as possible, as long as it is not raining,” Tan says. “It is fun. I enjoy it. It is more freedom, I guess. I don’t have to depend on the bus or pay for gas.”
David Kirby, a freshman with a double major in philosophy and government and international politics, is vice president of the student cyclist club at Mason. He says a few of the club’s 20 members bike regularly to classes.
The university is increasing the feasibility of biking for those who want to ride on a year-round basis. When roads leading to the Fairfax Campus are widened this summer, dedicated bike lanes will be added.
Bruce Wright, chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling, has been working with Josh Cantor, director of parking and transportation at Mason, to identify bike trails that commuters can use to get to Mason. Wright, a retired government geographer, bikes about six miles one way from his home in Reston to a bike shop in Vienna where he works.
“We see great potential for biking at Mason. In the long run, (bikers) will save the university money,” says Wright.
Wright notes preliminary plans call for striped lanes for bicycles on Patriot Circle. He also credits Mason for installing more bike racks on the Fairfax Campus. Anne Whitley, Mason transportation coordinator, estimates there are about 40 to 50 bike racks on the Fairfax Campus, including eight added in 2006.
On May 18, area cyclists will ride from 25 pit stops around the region, and many will end at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., where local government leaders are expected to address the crowd.
Cyclists, experienced or novice, can register for “Bike to Work Day” by visiting www.waba.org or by calling 202-518-0524. More than 20 commuter bicycling convoys led by veteran cyclists are being formed throughout the Washington region. The first 6,500 who register for the event will receive a free T-shirt.