Bike to Work cyclists surpass goal
Bike to Work week coordinators ambitiously hoped to double last year’s mileage in the Basinwide pedaling event held last week, and local cyclists met that challenge and then some.
More than 460 Bike to Work participants rode 15,551 miles last week ” exceeding the event’s mileage goal by more than 1,500 miles, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
The event kept the equivalent of 14,000 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and kick-started the bicycle season for hundreds of Basin residents and employees.
“Maybe the $4.50 a gallon [for gas] helped. The weather helped. But people just really got behind it,” said Ty Polastri, president of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition.
“I was really impressed with the commitment and the participation.”
Polastri said he was amazed at the positive energy surrounding the event. He is already thinking about how to expand next year, perhaps making it a bike to work, school and play week.
“Because our ultimate goal is to get people on bicycles,” he said.
Cyclists rode long distances and climbed elevation throughout the week. Tahoma resident Heather Segale rode her bike to work in Incline Village every day, a total of 227 miles for the week ” more miles than any other participant. South Lake Tahoe’s Stan Hill came in a close second with 225 miles.
“It’s such a great opportunity to have some quiet time in your mind,” Segale said. “And to put a good attitude on your day. You can’t get to work after a long bike ride and not be in a good mood.”
Segale said her trek was easier than it seems. But she did need a break come Saturday.
Will Stelter, who rode a total of 135 miles from Truckee to his workplace in Tahoe City last week, said that riding his bike to work “kills two birds with one stone” in that he gets his daily exercise and saves money on gas. Stelter pedals to work throughout the summer season and he participated in last year’s event. But this year’s turnout impressed him.
“I was so amazed. Some of those guys just killed it,” Stelter said.
Stelter said he felt that bike-to-work events are positive trend because they promote awareness and get first-timers on their bikes.
“It gives people an opportunity or a reason to [ride their bikes to work],” he said. “And I think that once they do it, they realize it’s not that big of a deal after all. It kind of promotes the concept more than anything.”
Debbie Kelly-Hogan from Integrated Environmental Restoration Services in Lake Forest said she rode her bike at least one way from Tahoma four days of the work week.
“It was perfect weather,” Kelly-Hogan said. “The first day was super cold, on Monday. But then it warmed up after that and was absolutely perfect in the mornings and beautiful in the evenings.”
Integrated Environmental Restoration Services rode the most miles out of any other North Shore group with a total of 696 miles for the week. They also achieved the most miles per employee on the North Shore, with employees each riding an average of 46 miles.
Kelly-Hogan said her 45-minute, 12-mile ride was pleasant except for the narrow shoulder on portions of the road.
“It is very dangerous in some places,” she said. “I feel like we have as much right to the roads as the car has.”
Kelly-Hogan wasn’t the only participant who expressed a concern for safety, and Polastri said he felt that bicycle-driver road safety should be stressed more in future events.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s own executive director, John Singlaub, who rode four out of five days during the event, damaged his bike after an incident with a road grate, said Karen Fink, the agency’s transportation planner, in an e-mail.
“I think that [safety] is another area that needs to be exploited more,” Polastri said. “We need to do a better job on educating motorists and cyclists on the rules of the road.”
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