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Vol. LXV, No. 12
June 7, 2013
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NIH’ers Enjoy Bike to Work Day, Maintain Top Ranking as Bike Commuters

On the front page...

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins welcomes BTWD participants.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins welcomes BTWD participants.

If you’ve never participated in Bike to Work Day, you’re missing out on a lot of fun.

On Friday, May 17, commuters across the D.C. area celebrated BTWD, ditching their cars, traffic and gasoline in place of bicycles, open trails and fresh air on the way to work.

On campus, the event was organized by the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club (NIHBCC), which set up three “pit stops”—areas where bikers can grab a bite to eat, win prizes and socialize with other bicyclists. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association reported that more than 14,000 people registered for the event, up from 12,000 who signed up last year. This year, 477 NIH’ers registered. NIH also placed first in the region as the employer with the most Bike to Work Day participants for the 8th consecutive year.

Continued...

NIH’s pit stops included the front of Bldg. 1, Rockledge Drive at the Rock Springs Business Park and Fallsgrove Village Center in Rockville. All featured tents from several area sponsors and refreshments; the pit stop at Bldg. 1 even had a bike-powered stereo and blender.

Jonathan Mazal, who is new to NIH this year and also an active member of the NIHBCC, organized the event.

Randy Schools, president of NIH’s Recreation and Welfare Association, spoke on the steps of Bldg. 1 and presented the second annual Carl Henn Bicycling Advocacy Award; it honors the memory of Henn, a former employee and activist who helped the NIHBCC get off the ground and was killed by lightning in 2010. The City of Rockville also renamed a portion of its Millennium Trail in honor of Henn shortly after his death. Henn worked tirelessly with the city to make sure the trail was contiguous and clearly marked for bicyclists.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) and his wife Diane Baker arrived early at Bldg. 1 on BTWD. BTWD participants could have minor repairs made to their bikes at the event.

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins (l) and his wife Diane Baker arrived early at Bldg. 1 on BTWD.

BTWD participants could have minor repairs made to their bikes at the event.

Schools gave the award to Steve Friedman, protocol and information specialist at the National Cancer Institute, who has been involved with the NIHBCC for over 22 years. He has also worked with Montgomery County officials to keep bike trails maintained not only for NIH employees but also for other county residents.

Friedman said, “Biking to work is such a great opportunity...we’re very grateful to everyone for their support.” He said he uses the Millennium Trail and gets goosebumps every time he passes the sign honoring Henn.

Dr. Roger Kurlander of the Clinical Center displays his recumbent bike.

Dr. Roger Kurlander of the Clinical Center displays his recumbent bike.

Photos: Bill Branson

County Councilmember Hans Riemer also spoke at the gathering. “I want to thank you all for changing the way that this county lives and the choices they’re making,” he said. “It’s a great place to work and a great place to live, but not always a great place to bike...As we move to the future we’ve got to have more people biking to work. Each of you is an ambassador of that future.”

He warned that gridlock will result if county residents insist on single-occupant vehicles for commuting, but acknowledged that change will come slowly. “It’s a gradual shift, a cultural shift, a mind-set shift.”

An at-large member of the council, Riemer also noted that the county recently allocated $250,000 for more bike lanes and signs, which will “help make cyclists feel safer.” The county is also in the process of bringing Capital Bike Share, a short-term community bike-sharing service in the District and Northern Virginia, to Montgomery County, he noted. “The last thing we want is a failed county bike program.”

NIH director Dr. Francis Collins also joined the festivities, as has been his custom since becoming director. He and his wife Diane Baker rode about 4 miles from their home in Chevy Chase via the Georgetown Branch Trail (the interim Capital Crescent Trail) and back streets—a route laid out, Collins said, by NHGRI’s Dr. Peter Chines, who lives nearby.

NCI’s Steve Friedman was presented with this year’s Carl Henn Bicycling Advocacy Award. He is shown here with Henn’s widow, Carol Henn.

NCI’s Steve Friedman was presented with this year’s Carl Henn Bicycling Advocacy Award. He is shown here with Henn’s widow, Carol Henn.

“We were encouraged by Bike to Work Day to do more biking outside of the workday,” he said, divulging that a favorite route is the 22-mile loop down Beach Drive through Rock Creek Park past the zoo to the river, then up the Crescent Trail. “I can’t imagine a better way to spend a couple of hours.”

He continued, “We are the National Institutes of Health, and it’s great to see us exhibiting health in our own personal behavior.” Of bicycle commuting he observed, “It’s nice to have a little distraction before going to work.”

Dr. Angela Atwood-Moore, who organized the event in the past, also attended. She noted that despite improvements in attitudes and infrastructure toward commuter biking, there are still improvements to be made.

“I hope that NIH continues to recognize that biking is a serious form of transportation, not just for recreation,” she said. “It can alleviate issues of parking and congestion, but also comes with its own set of needs,” like shaded bike shelters and dedicated locker space and showers for employees to clean up before coming in to the office.

Collins (r) checks in at the registration table in front of Bldg. 1 on Bike to Work Day. Registrants got free T-shirts, breakfast foods, bike tune-ups and a chance to win raffle prizes. County Councilmember Hans Riemer at BTWD.

Collins (r) checks in at the registration table in front of Bldg. 1 on Bike to Work Day. Registrants got free T-shirts, breakfast foods, bike tune-ups and a chance to win raffle prizes.

County Councilmember Hans Riemer at BTWD.
Dr. Angela Atwood-Moore, who organized the event last year, poses here with her husband Tchad Moore and their daughter Sofiya Moore. NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs embraces an alternative mode of transportation on BTWD 2013.

Dr. Angela Atwood-Moore, who organized the event last year, poses here with her husband Tchad Moore and their daughter Sofiya Moore.

NCCAM director Dr. Josephine Briggs embraces an alternative mode of transportation on BTWD 2013.

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