Gas is expensive, and we’re getting fatter. Sounds like we should get out of our cars and onto our bicycles, saving money and slimming waistlines in one fell swoop, doesn’t it?
Absolutely, area bicycle commuters say. It’s estimated that a bit more than 1 percent of Washington’s population — about 5,000 people — commute by bicycle.
“There is always a way to commute by bicycle,” says Eric Gilliland, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, WABA, “and through our mentoring program, we’ll help you find the best, safest route from your house to your job.”
It’s easy for Mr. Gilliland to say that if there’s a bicycle-commuting will, there’s a bicycle-commuting way.
“It’s true, mine is a very short commute,” he admits, adding that he rides about one mile from his home in the U Street NW area to his office on Connecticut Avenue.
So, let’s talk some real distances. Say you live in Takoma Park and work in Landover, as Paul d’Eustachio does.
“It’s about 15 miles each way, and it takes me about 50 minutes,” says Mr. d’Eustachio, an accountant who bicycles the 30-mile round trip up to four times a week, rain or shine. The only time he doesn’t ride is when the temperature sinks below freezing.
It’s just shy of 8 on a recent morning, and Mr. d’Eustachio, a wiry father of three in his mid-50s who also is the president of WABA, is already at his office, getting ready to bring his bike upstairs and change out of his shorts and T-shirt.
The Cannondale T2000 that Mr. d’Eustachio rides is a touring bike, meaning it’s lighter than a mountain bike and sturdier than a racing bike. Many bike commuters favor this type of bicycle and outfit it with dropped handlebars. Regular handlebars require the cyclist to sit upright, which is too tiring, many bike commuters say. The tires are lined with Teflon to prevent small punctures.
Mr. d’Eustachio uses an access card to get into his office, and as he rolls the bike in, he says: “I am very fortunate about having somewhere to keep my bicycle during the day. Some offices don’t provide any kind of bicycle parking.” He has a bike stand in his office.
Another possible obstacle for bicycle commuters is clothing. Mr. d’Eustachio says he brings clean clothes to his office by car or Metro once a week. He usually wears a polo shirt and dress pants, which he acknowledges is easier than having to wear a suit.
Evelyn Egizi, 48, has it even better. She wears scrubs at her job as a hospital administrator at the Washington Hospital Center, and she has access to at-work showers.
“I’d feel pretty guilty if I didn’t commute like this,” Ms. Egizi says. “I’m very fortunate.”
Her 10-mile commute takes her from a residential area in Silver Spring through Rock Creek Park, then finally through the Petworth neighborhood in Northwest, where residents call her the “bike lady.”
“People have asked me do I ever feel threatened going through the ‘hood’? I don’t,” Ms. Egizi says. “I feel much more threatened by bad drivers. … All drivers should be bicyclists at some point, and they’d become much better drivers.”View Entire Story
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