Pedal your way to work and benefits
By Dean Paynter and Greg Peck
Janesville, Wis. - If you’ve never bicycled to work, consider it now. May is National Bike Month, Bike to Work Week runs May 11-18 and Bike to Work Day is Friday, May 17.
We’ve heard the excuses—“I’m out of shape.” “Biking takes too long.” “It’s too far.” “I’d have no place to park my bike.” “I’d get sweaty and must dress up.” “Roads aren’t safe.” “I run errands after work.” “My bike is old.”
You can overcome these obstacles. Start at an easy pace, and you’ll soon feel fit. The average commuter travels 10 mph; the more you ride, the faster you’ll get. Piggyback with busing to shorten your ride, or pedal to a coworker’s home and then carpool. When Dean worked in downtown Madison, he parked free at a park and pedaled 2½ miles to work, saving $100 in monthly parking fees.
Find storage space at your company, or ask your employer to provide a bike rack. Ride at an easy pace to stay cool on your way to work, then faster on the way home and shower afterward. Keep extra clothing at work to change on days you ride. Obey traffic laws and wear bright clothing and a helmet. Map a route that takes advantage of Janesville’s 30 miles of paved trails. Bolt a rack to your bike for carrying capacity when running errands.
Finally, have a bike shop check your bike. Or join the city’s bicycling committee for coffee and refreshments from 7 to 9 a.m. Friday, May 17, at the Janesville Town Square downtown. A Michael’s Cycles representative will pump tires and perform safety checks.
Many committee members have realized health benefits of bicycle commuting. It helps squeeze exercise into hectic days. Getting fresh air and blood pumping helps you arrive energized and ready to be productive. Pedaling home or to a diner for lunch staves off midafternoon doldrums. And biking home burns off work-related stress.
The League of American Bicyclists says more than half of Americans live within five miles of workplaces, making bicycle commuting feasible and fun. From 2000 to 2011, the number of bicycle commuters grew 47 percent. One study found that 20 percent of people who tried pedaling during Bike to Work Day became regular bicycle commuters.
More than two-thirds of American adults are overweight, costing $68 billion in annual care costs. Employers share this burden. The Transportation Research Board says more than 80 percent of bicycle commuters believe their health improved through pedaling to work. They report lower stress and greater feelings of freedom, relaxation and excitement compared to motorists.
Employers who encourage bicycle commuting and provide safe places to park bikes will be better able to hire and retain workers they need to prosper.
Given these benefits, employers should encourage and offer incentives to bicycling employees. During Bike to Work Week or Day, stage competitions between departments or companies.
Furthermore, vehicles produce one-third of U.S. air pollution, according to goingzerowaste.com. Bicycling reduces pollutants and carbon footprints.
For downtown Janesville in particular, pedaling to work provides another crucial benefit: With revitalization projects squeezing space, every bicycle ridden is one parking spot saved.
During Bike to Work Week and all summer long, see and connect with your community in a more intimate way. Pump up those tires, strap on a helmet and join us.
Dean Paynter and Greg Peck serve on the city’s bicycling committee. For more information, contact Alexander Brown, city associate planner/metropolitan planning organization coordinator, at (608) 755-3095; email email@example.com.
UPCOMING BICYCLING EVENTS
May 11-18: National Bike to Work Week, encouraging workers to ride to places of employment.
Saturday, May 11: 2nd Annual Janesville Family Bike Fest, Harrison Elementary School, 760 Princeton Ave. (free). 9 a.m. to noon. Skills tests, competitions, safety checks, exhibitions and exhibitors. Visit
Wednesday, May 15, Janesville Velo Club's Slow Roll Ride. Free, first of season. Helmets required. Start at Janesville Town Square, corner of Festival Street (aka River Street) and Court Street downtown. Safety checks at 5:30; ride at 6 p.m. Visit http://www.veloclub.org/slow-roll-ride.html
Friday, May 17: National Bike to Work Day. From 7 to 9 a.m., get free coffee, snacks and refreshments, as well as bike safety checks and giveaways, at the Janesville Town Square, corner of Festival Street (aka River Street) and Court Street, downtown. Donate your used, unwanted bikes.
Saturday, May 18: Bike to the Janesville Farmers Market Day, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., first block of North Main Street, downtown. Visit