Trading the driver seat for a bike saddle: Tahoe prepares for Bike to Work Week | SierraSun.com

Trading the driver seat for a bike saddle: Tahoe prepares for Bike to Work Week

Julie Brown
Sierra Sun

As the last wisp of winter blows through the Basin, avid bicyclists are starting to ride on Tahoe roadways ” a sure sign that spring is blossoming.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition are encouraging Tahoe residents to pedal themselves into spring with their third annual Bike to Work week, held from May 12 to 16.

To prepare for the event, the TRPA and the bicycle coalition are gathering sponsors for the week-long challenge and signing up bicycle participants.

Enthusiasm generated around last year’s bike-to-work week was double that of the year before, with some 200 participants riding almost 7,000 miles ” keeping the equivalent of about 6,300 pounds of carbon dioxide out of Tahoe’s atmosphere.

And coordinators are expecting an even larger event this year, hoping for at least 300 participants, said Karen Fink, transportation planner at the TRPA.

Already, 85 people have signed up to hop onto their bicycle seats, rather than the driver’s seat, on their daily commute to work.

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“The challenge is a great way to get people energized about the bike riding season, and to get some people who might not ordinarily ride out on their bikes,” said Ty Polastri, president of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition, in a statement. “This year we hope to double our mileage with even more participants.”

A solid workout and environmental consciousness are two reasons why Heather Solomon, owner of Pass It On Thrift in Tahoe City, rides her bike to work. Pass It On Thrift averaged 38.33 miles per employee during last year’s event, the highest average of all workplace-based teams.

A Kings Beach resident, Solomon admitted that she took a detour over Highway 267 a couple of times that week to extend her daily bike ride to her Tahoe City shop.

“At the end of the work day, it’s an awesome feeling knowing that you get to ride your bike,” Solomon said. “And of course, if more people did it, we’d be better off.”

Like many other bike-to-work week participants, Solomon commutes to work on her bicycle as often as she can, so long as the sun is shining.

“Everybody here rides their bike to work when the weather is good anyway,” she said. “So we felt we might as well get credit for it” in the event.

Fink said she heard from positive response from a number of riders last year who participated in the event and continued riding to work after the event ended.

“Improving transportation, especially bicycle and pedestrian connections, is one of the top priorities for community members and our agency,” Fink said in a statement. “Getting people out on their bikes and familiar with the existing bicycle network is an important piece of the puzzle in bringing planning and public needs into alignment.”