Greg Peck: Why I keep pedaling to work
I enjoyed reading Shelly Birkelo's story in last Saturday's Gazette about Janesville workers who are among the growing number of bicycling commuters nationwide.
I'm among them. I pedaled to work this morning for the 68th time this year. My first such jaunt was March 31. It helps, of course, that I only live a mile from The Gazette's downtown offices. In good weather, I bicycle home for lunch, often making two round-trips per day.
Last year, I bicycled to work about 110 times. This season, my goal is 150. It won't be easy. Sometimes I need my car for work or to run errands before or afterward. Weeks of vacation time remain. Bad forecasts or high humidity keeps the bike on the rack. Still, I figure if I tick off 20 such trips every month, I'll hit 140 by the end of October. That would leave 10 more in hopes that November offers some reasonable weather.
I'm not like my neighbor Jim Krebs, one of two bicycling commuters Shelly wrote about last week. Jim bicycles several miles to work year-round.
I do seem to see a few more people on bikes this year compared to last year. Whether they're pedaling to jobs or just for exercise or pleasure, I can't be certain. Still, it's good to know that a city planner focusing on transportation hopes bicyclists and pedestrians are part of the equation as Janesville builds its next long-range transportation plan. This is the subject of The Gazette's Saturday editorial.
I've started wearing a helmet regularly this year for safety reasons. Jim narrowly escaped injury—and almost gave up bicycling—when a vehicle ran into his bike in March.
If the city can find ways to help more residents bicycle safely and get fresh air and exercise, it will reduce pollution and benefit our health. I know that bicycling at lunchtime helps reinvigorate me and avoid that midafternoon sleepy feeling that affects many workers.
Could you, too, give it a try?