Last Friday, May 15, was Bike to Work Day. The Capital Region Bike to Work Challenge for Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady Counties was sponsored by the Capital District Transportation Committee and Bikeatoga.
Trophies were awarded to each county for the following categories, according to the Capital Moves website: organization with the largest number of riders, small organization with the highest percent participation (20 or fewer employees), organization over 20 employees with the highest percent participation and person who rode the farthest.
This year’s Bike to Work Day Challenge had 403 registered riders. It was projected that riders biked a total of 4,161 miles, saved 166 gallons of gas (based on an estimated 25 miles per gallon) and did not produce 3,329 pounds of carbon dioxide.
The stated goals of Bike to Work Day are to be more productive, save money, be healthier and to support sustainability.
This year, Union’s team reached around 40 participants. Last year, the team had roughly 27 riders participate in rainy conditions, while still managing to win the trophy for the organization with the most riders in Schenectady County.
Both students and professors were encouraged to participate on Union’s team. Team captain Professor Stephen Romero shared that any distance counted for participants, as long as they rode their bikes. Any day from May 11 to 15 counted towards the team’s standings.
Romero said that in the spring and fall terms he tends to bike to work two to three times a week. He stated, “One to two days I ride one direction to or from my home in Saratoga which is a 21-24 mile ride, and then take the bus in the other direction. I try to do the full round trip (48 miles) once a week as a recovery ride that works into my regular race training.”
Professor John Rieffel of the Computer Science Department bikes to work every day of the week. He stated that his route to work varies from day to day. “The shortest route to work is 7.1 miles. When time allows, especially in the summer, I prefer a 10-, 15- or even 30-mile route.”
Rieffel bikes to work for both fitness and sustainability. He shared that he enjoys the ability to fit exercise into his day, without needing to “carve out dedicated time.” He added that being able to burn calories and save on gas are huge pluses.
Gail Golderman, Digital Scholarship and Services Librarian at Schaffer Library, is another avid biker to work. She said that her typical commute on a good day is about 20-24 miles. She stated, “If I have time once the term is over I might stretch the return home to 30-40 miles. I am a daily commuter from Albany, so in the winter or other bad weather I do a combination bike/bus/bike.”
Her motivations behind biking to work also vary between fitness and environmentalism. Golderman explained that it “helps with fitness and builds in an automatic program, so by the time (she) gets to work, (she) has already put in a decent workout.”
Her drive from Albany every day started to bother her — one person in one car driving over 40 miles a day. She added that it was hard to carpool because of varying schedules. Golderman really wanted to reduce her carbon footprint, so she took the car out of the equation.
Golderman explained that she has the luxury of time, so she can afford the extra hours on either end. She does most of her errands around town on her bike.
If you missed Bike to Work Day and are interested in cycling, there is a Union cycling club, which organizes rides for everyone in the area.