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Vol. LXV, No. 13
June 21, 2013
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Rubin Makes a Habit of Biking to Work

(Story in an occasional series on NIH’ers who embrace alternative commuting modes)

FDA’s Steven Rubin chooses an ambitious, but beautiful, route for his commutes to Bldg. 29A

FDA’s Steven Rubin chooses an ambitious, but beautiful, route for his commutes to Bldg. 29A.

While many NIH’ers cycled to work on May 17 for national Bike to Work Day, some make biking to work a regular routine.

Steven Rubin, a senior investigator with FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, bikes 20 miles each way to the NIH campus several times a week, year round. From his home in Frederick County, Md., he drives about 25 minutes along back roads to Poolesville, then bikes the rest of the way, part of it along the scenic C&O Canal.

He picks up the canal by Seneca Aqueduct (mile marker 23) and rides to mile marker 17, Swain’s Lock. “It’s a beautiful ride along the narrow trail with the Potomac River on one side and the canal on the other, riding past rapids and spectacular scenery,” he said. “There are blue herons, vultures, turtles, snakes, deer, the occasional red fox and [this time of year] hissing Canada geese and their chicks.”

Rubin’s commute takes him about 1˝ hours, although, he admits, even if he drove the whole way or took the bus part of the way, it would take about as long, given traffic.

“When gas prices went up to more than $2 a gallon in 2004, a friend of mine said, ‘Let’s stick it to the gas companies and ride in.’ We did it ever since. I love it!”

That friend was the late Dr. Phil Snoy, a wellknown campus citizen who was director of FDA’s Division of Veterinary Science. For years, up until Snoy’s untimely passing in 2011, Rubin recounted driving to Snoy’s house in Poolesville and riding their bikes together to work. They often were joined by FDA’s Dano Murphy who enjoyed the ride so much that he drove from his house near the NIH campus to Poolesville to meet them, only to bike back to NIH. Rubin and Murphy still often ride together.

Rubin’s riding partner for many years was the late Dr. Phil Snoy, an FDA veterinarian who was well-known on campus for his athletic pursuits. This tree in front of Bldg. 29A was planted in his memory.

Rubin’s riding partner for many years was the late Dr. Phil Snoy, an FDA veterinarian who was well-known on campus for his athletic pursuits. This tree in front of Bldg. 29A was planted in his memory.

Photos: Dana Steinberg

Rubin bikes in on average 2-3 times per week, but sometimes he’ll bike in every day. On days when he doesn’t pedal, he drives to a Park and Ride lot and takes the commuter bus from Germantown. But on those days, he still keeps a bike on campus to ride between his office and the bus stop.

His main motivation for biking to work? Exercise. “My metabolism is plummeting,” he said. “I’d look a complete mess if I didn’t [cycle]. It just feels good and it’s a good way to start the day. When I don’t bike in, I just don’t feel right.”

Rubin always enjoyed biking. In college, he and friends enjoyed competitive mountain biking. Later, he began riding road bikes. Since 2004, he has consistently biked to work. “The idea of combining biking with an actual way to get to work is appealing,” he said.

It seems that NIH’ers increasingly are riding their bikes to work. “For years, Phil and I, and maybe one or two others, had the only bikes on the rack by my building,” Rubin said. “Now, I can barely find a bike spot!”

In January 2014, he and his FDA colleagues will relocate to FDA headquarters in Silver Spring. He’s still contemplating his new route.

If you have an alternative mode of commuting to and from NIH, especially in this era of BRAC-related congestion, let the NIH Record know and perhaps we can arrange a brief interview.—Dana Steinberg


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