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Vol. LX, No. 12
June 13, 2008
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NIH Bike to Work Day Succeeds, Despite Rain

On the front page...

The NIH Bicycle Commuter Club drew 465 registered riders—the strongest showing yet—to its pit stop for the Washington Area Bicyclists Association’s 2008 Bike to Work Day. NIH had 324 registered participants in the 2007 event and won the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments award for the area employer with the highest registered BTWD participation in 2006 and 2007. Confirmation of NIH’s third win in a row will come in mid-June.

Regionally, 7,000 people registered for the 2008 event, making it one of the largest BTWD celebrations in the country, according to WABA. Douglas Franklin, marketing specialist for COG, said overall registration at all pit stops increased only slightly. NIH experienced an increase of about 35 percent.

Continued...


  Margarita Valencia (NIMH), commuted for the first time from Mt. Pleasant with the help of friend and colleague Jerry Overman (CC).  
  Margarita Valencia (NIMH), commuted for the first time from Mt. Pleasant with the help of friend and colleague Jerry Overman (CC).  

NIHBCC organizers attribute the high participation levels to higher gas prices, as well as to a seminar in April sponsored by the club and the Division of Amenities and Transportation Services, ORS. ORS staff and NIHBCC members answered questions about how NIH’ers can get started with bike commuting, including packing clothes for the workday, showers and bike parking on campus, mentors who can share routes, bike to Metro rail/bus commuting and safe cycling resources. The event packed a Bldg. 31 conference room with about 100 people.

NIH had three Bike to Work Day pit stops: Bldg. 1, Rockledge and Executive Blvd. Many employees attended other WABA pit stops and identified NIH as their employer during registration. NIHBCC’s awards are on display in the R&W NIH Fitness Center.

Despite drizzle throughout the morning, 246 registered riders showed up on campus with their bikes. Among those were several newcomers who completed their first commute to NIH. The total round-trip miles logged by bike that day to NIH locations was 2,966—an average of 12 miles per rider.

Cyclists (from l) Jean-Charles Grivel (NICHD), Brandy Fureman (NINDS), Al Yergey (NICHD) and Beda Brichacek (NICHD) formed part of the commuter convoy that started in Olney. Fureman’s first bike commute was on BTWD. Cyclists (from l) Jean-Charles Grivel (NICHD), Brandy Fureman (NINDS), Al Yergey (NICHD) and Beda Brichacek (NICHD) formed part of the commuter convoy that started in Olney. Fureman’s first bike commute was on BTWD.

New bike commuter Brandy Fureman of NINDS joined NIHBCC member Al Yergey’s (NICHD) commuter convoy, which started in Olney, when they reached Glenmont. Although her office is on Executive Blvd., she happened to have a meeting on campus that coincided with BTWD.

Nona Colburn (NIAMS) commuted to NIH by bike all but one working day in 2007 and lost 20 pounds in the process.

Nona Colburn (NIAMS) commuted to NIH by bike all but one working day in 2007 and lost 20 pounds in the process.

“It made a big difference to meet up with a group of other cyclists,” she said. “Bike commuting just made sense to me to cut down on pollution, save gas and get more exercise. I’m going to find my route to Executive next and try to commute two or three times a week from now on.”

Tam Sneddon of NLM also joined an NIHBCC convoy. Pamela Shaw of NIAID led a group of four cyclists—including Sneddon and a second newcomer—from Cleveland Park to campus and on to Rockledge. Sneddon, who usually takes Metro to campus, chose BTWD for his first ride to work so he could benefit from the framework of an organized event.

Margarita Valencia of NIMH commuted for the first time from her Mt. Pleasant neighborhood with the help of friend and colleague Jerry Overman of the Clinical Center. Like Fureman and Sneddon, Valencia said she will continue bike commuting and agreed that it helped a great deal to have someone show her how to get started.

For Nona Colburn of NIAMS, attending the 2008 BTWD was the culmination of several goals. Her New Year’s resolution for 2007 was to make her 4-mile round-trip commute every day of that year by bike. She missed only one day of bike commuting due to a severe ice storm.

Nona Colburn (NIAMS) commuted to NIH by bike all but one working day in 2007 and lost 20 pounds in the process.

Keith Killian (NCI) and daughter Anais ride to NIH together every day from Bethesda.

She cycled through 14-degree temperatures, snow, rain and sleet to meet her goal and lost 20 pounds in the process. This year, Colburn received a Presidential Active Lifestyle Award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports for her bike commuting. The award recognizes individuals who record 6 weeks of physical activity on at least 5 days each week.

Colburn’s enthusiasm for fitness is infectious: Two of her coworkers have tried bike commuting after hearing her story. “I can’t say enough about it to encourage others to try it,” she said. “I feel so much better having lost weight. I don’t have to spend money on gas and a gym membership. It takes me less time to get to work on a bike than in a car, plus I’m more awake and alert when I arrive.”

Nearly tied for the title of longest bike commute were James Nagle of NINDS with 46 miles from Reston, Va., and Steven Rubin of FDA with 45 miles from Buckeystown, Md. The third longest route to campus probably belongs to Phil Snoy of FDA, who biked 22 miles each way from Poolesville. He calculated that with gas approaching $4 per gallon, each day he bikes to work saves him $6.

“It only takes me 30 minutes longer to get to NIH by bike than it would in a car. Plus I’m getting into better shape and saving money,” Snoy said.

Perhaps the shortest ride belonged to Mary Gant of NIEHS, who rides from Cedar Lane across from NIH, less than a mile away. NIHRecord Icon

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