Biking to work

Biking to work

C-U Bike to Work Day on Tuesday brought out both novice and veteran bike commuters.

I was definitely in the novice category. I rode the 4 1/2 miles from my house to downtown Champaign Tuesday, the first time I’ve ridden to work. What a great way to get to work on such a beautiful day.

I met another novice, Kitty Strong, at the bike station in downtown Champaign Tuesday morning. Riders could register their bikes, get a breakfast muffin and coffee, and register for raffle prizes at the bike station.

The organizers were also handing out updated bike maps. The maps are also available at the park district buildings, city buildings and libraries in Champaign and Urbana and at the Market at the Square.

Strong rode downtown from her home near Bradley Avenue and Rising Road. She was inspired by her boss, Champaign Finance Director Richard Schnuer, who is an avid biker.

“I haven’t even been on a bike in a couple years,” Strong said Tuesday. “The first couple miles, there was a little bit of an incline, but that was about it. It will be easier going home. It will be downhill.”

About 20 percent of the 700 people who registered for Bike to Work Day were first-time bike commuters, said Mishauno Woggon, a planner for the city of Champaign who helped organize the event.

“C-U Bike to Work Day is about the regular cyclists and acknowledging them, the people who regularly choose to ride to work,” Woggon said, adding that most people underestimate the number of bike commuters there are. “It’s also to provide inspiration to people who are curious about doing it, just as the (Illinois) marathon serves as inspiration for people to try running and do their first 5K.”

Geoff Merritt was also at the downtown Champaign bike station Tuesday. He is a veteran bike commuter who bikes from his southeast Urbana home between his two businesses — That’s Rentertainment on campus and Parasol in Urbana — every day, averaging 13 to 14 miles a day.

Merritt has been bike commuting year-round for about three years. He really committed himself to
biking about a year and a half ago, when he sold his car.

“I like everything about it,” he said. “Working on campus, it’s impossible to park. I like not paying $60 a month to park. I like not buying gas. I like not maintaining a car. I like being outside.”

Woggon said last year’s event inspired a city employee to bike to work from his Philo home. Mark Toalson, the assistant information technology director, now bikes to work about once a week, she said.

I’m hoping that with some planning, I can bike to work at least a few times a month this summer.

And what about Strong? Will she commute by bike again?

“Not tomorrow,” she said Tuesday. “But yes.”

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