Bob Mook is the editorial manager at the Colorado Health Foundation. He rides nearly 20 miles from his home in Northglenn to the Foundation’s office in Glendale as often as he can.
Once upon a time, I dismissed biking to work as an impractical, time-consuming, unhygienic, exhausting and possibly dangerous idea.
Now, eight years after a colleague convinced me to sign up for my very first Bike to Work Day, I’m not only older and wiser, but thinner, healthier and happier because I bike to work regularly. In fact, I’m absolutely certain that cycling is the greatest form of transportation known to man.
But getting to that certainty took a little time and effort. Though I enjoyed mountain biking and riding on local trails long before my Bike To Work Day epiphany in 2002, I had no idea how to get from my home in downtown Denver without being flattened on the shoulder of the highway like roadkill. After investing in a bike map and exploring the trails one weekend, I discovered a path that kept me on bike trails about 90 percent of the time. Following my first bike-to-work experience, I concluded that it’s actually easy – especially if you’re prepared.
If you live within 20 miles of your workplace, chances are good you could plan a route that takes about the same amount of time as a good exercise routine -- while avoiding the hazards and frustrations associated with rush hour traffic. Indeed, Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs ranked high in Bicycling magazine’s list of “Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities.”
Does biking to work still sound like too much effort? Try adding some mass transit to the mix. All RTD buses are equipped with bike racks. They also let cyclists take bikes into their Light Rail trains, providing they follow the rules.
Oddly, people don’t cite safety, time constraints or their own physical fitness as excuses for not biking to work. They worry about cleanliness and lack of shower facilities at their workplace. You can easily resolve those problems by making friends with Handi Wipes and by having deodorant available at work. An option for business professionals is to pack a change of clothes in their backpack or leave a change of clothes at the office. Throughout my professional career, co-workers have given me a lot of personal feedback, but nobody has ever said that I smell bad.
Based on the growing popularity of Bike to Work Day, it seems more employers are warming up to letting (and even encouraging) employees to ride. Maybe it’s because cycling is a documented good way to improve employee wellness and enhance productivity.
The Denver Regional Council of Governments and the Colorado Department of Transportation deserve credit for promoting Bike to Work Day. It’s the rare occasion when biking to work seems almost “normal” to the outside world. The event may even convert a few one-time naysayers like me.
If you participate in the 2010 Bike To Work Day, June 23 and happen to be riding on the Cherry Creek Trail, check out the Colorado Health Foundation's table in Creekside Park, just to the west of the Foundation’s office at 501 S. Cherry St.
Do you already bike to work? Please share your tips in the comment box below.