NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Blue Skies & Joyful Rides

Employees Embrace Bike to Work Day

NIMH’s Jerry McGuire poses with bike in front of Bldg. 1
NIMH’s Jerry McGuire

Photo:  Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

On a picture-perfect morning, NIH employees pedaled their way onto the Bethesda campus on May 19, joining the Washington area’s Bike to Work Day. More than 350 staff pre-registered for the event, many of whom chose to ride to Bldg. 1, one of more than 100 pitstops in the region. 

NCI’s Dr. Lisa Finkelstein has participated in Bike to Work Day annually since she started working at NIH in 2005. Although her office is located at NCI-Shady Grove, she happily biked the four-mile distance from her home in Kensington to join her colleagues on the Bethesda campus. 

NIAID’s Robin Eisch has biked to work regularly since 2007, traveling from her home in Silver Spring. With increased telework, she now enjoys biking along the seven-mile trail on the two days a week she commutes to campus.

NIMH’s Jerry McGuire chooses to bike to work on the two to three days each week that he comes to campus. In his four years at NIH, he can recall driving to campus only once, as biking has become his preferred mode of transportation.

Two cyclists stand with their bikes discussing their rides in
CC Nurse Martina Lavrisha (r) chats with Sarah Weltz, an NCI postbac fellow.

Photo:  Credit Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

Dr. Laura VanBlargan commutes to her on-campus NIAID lab every day, often relying on her bike. These days, she is biking for two; her baby is due in August.

Martina Lavrisha, a nurse at the Clinical Center, biked to work for the first time that day, embarking on a 20-mile journey from her home in Vienna, Va. She viewed it as training for the upcoming RAGBRAI, a challenging 500-mile bike ride across Iowa that she plans to undertake this summer.

Upon reaching Bldg. 1, cyclists took advantage of the services offered. Many registered their bikes at the NIH Police tent, while others received bike inspections from volunteer mechanics courtesy of Terrapin Bicycles. Additionally, Silver Cycles donated bike shop gift cards that were raffled throughout the morning. 

Bike to Work Day also gives the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club (NIHBCC) an opportunity to announce the year’s Carl Henn Bicycling Advocacy Award honoree (see story below).

NIH Police officers and bike club members pose together under tent by Bldg. 1 pitstop
Gathering for Bike Day are (from l) Sean Cullinane, Gerald Jordan, Joe Cox, Tammie Edwards, NIH Deputy Director for Management Dr. Alfred Johnson and two NIH police officers Kerin Cummings and Matt Mehlhaff.

Photo:  Chia-Chi Charlie Chang

Co-sponsored by the Office of Research Services (ORS), Division of Amenities and Transportation Services (DATS) and NIHBCC, with support from the R&W, the event promotes not only physical fitness, but also the reduction of traffic congestion and carbon emissions. 

As the motto proudly displayed on NIHBCC jerseys states, each cyclist who chooses to bike to work becomes a “non-polluter commuter.” —Dana Talesnik  

Photo Gallery

NIH’s Bike Club Honors Velez with the 2023 Henn Award

Velez, in NIH Bike Club shirt, helmet and sunglasses, stands near Clinical Center
Frank Velez near the Clinical Center

NIH’s Bike to Work Day celebrates cycling’s benefits to health and the environment. The event also celebrated NIH’er Frank Velez, who was honored with the 2023 Carl Henn Bicycling Advocacy Award. 

Velez—who had led the clinical research informatics program in NIDDK’s office of the clinical director and recently switched gears to become the biomedical informatics projects manager in NHLBI’s Scientific Solutions Delivery Branch—has been committed to NIH’s Bicycle Commuter Club (NIHBCC) for years. He recently led the charge in getting freshly designed cycling jerseys and bibs for the club and streamlined the procurement process. 

When activities shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic, Velez upheld club rapport and engagement by creating fun riding challenges members could access through a mobile phone app. He also helped bring back the NIH pitstop in front of Bldg. 1 to the National Capital Region’s Bike to Work Day event after its pandemic hiatus. 

“I’ve worked hard to foster collaboration between the Washington Area Bicycling Association, the NIH Division of Amenities and Transportation Services and the NIH Bike Club,” said Velez.  “We still have work to do, but I am pleased that our goals align.” 

This award honors the memory and legacy of longtime NIH employee and cycling advocate Henn, a co-founder and president of NIHBCC and dedicated environmentalist who passed away unexpectedly in 2010. 

Honoree Velez rides both for pleasure and competition, and he most enjoys casual rides with his family in the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve in Maryland. He also enjoys tending to his small fleet of bicycles, including a Dutch-style bakfiets (“box bike”) and a few boutique race frames. Velez plans to continue to advocate for riders across NIH and the county. —Katie Clark

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)