On Friday, May 16 Columbus like other cities throughout the world will celebrate Bike to Work Day. In celebration of this annual event we caught up with a few of our own cyclists in the school to find out why they ride.
Lauren Blyth, a graduate student in the school rides about 7 miles one-way to work and notes that before starting graduate school she rarely biked. In fact, she says it took her a while to get comfortable with the route and happy to do it every day. What helped make the ride more comfortable for her was getting panniers so that she no longer had to carry a backpack.
Today, Blyth rides about 7 miles one-way to her office in the school. Reflecting on her ride, she says, "I really enjoy my ride. I like to see the wildlife along the Olentangy path and watch the seasons change. It is a good time to let your mind wander." She also reflects on the health benefits of riding, "Biking gives me some daily exercise that I would probably not get if I did not ride. I think that the exercise I get on my bike allows me to sit in a chair and get work done during the day. It is harder to concentrate on days that I take the bus."
Joe Bonnell, program director for watershed management also frequently rides his bike to work. Bonnell lives more than 7 miles west of campus and rides mostly on side streets through Upper Arlington where he observes there is hardly any traffic, even during rush hour to get to work. Reflecting on why he likes to ride, Bonnell shares a number of reasons, "I like the idea that I'm saving money on gas, reducing my carbon footprint, and getting in a little exercise all at the same time." He also notes, "Having my bike at work makes it easier to get around campus. I can get to main campus in just a few minutes and I've even used my bike to get to meetings downtown, made easy by the Olentangy Trail which takes you on a scenic route with virtually no traffic to the heart of downtown."
Bonnell mentions that he also finds riding his bike is more convenient than driving his car since he parks on West campus. He notes, "If I include the walk from West campus to Kottman Hall, it only takes a few more minutes to get to work biking versus driving."
Eugene Braig, program director for aquatic ecosystems says he loves to ride to work. Braig commutes a little more than 11 miles and notes, "riding saves a whole lot of money in gasoline, is thus good for the world around me, and happens to be good for me." He also is enthusiastic about the Olentangy Trail and notes, "I love the ease of the Olentangy Trail in connecting my current residential neighborhood almost directly to Kottman Hall and love the proximity of my commute to the river, the wetland park, the often evident wildlife (you don’t get that sensation through an SUV window on the highway)… I wouldn’t have it any other way."
Braig began biking seriously in the mid-1980s, but shares he allowed a state of busy in the ‘90s to get in the way and gave up biking and only started riding again with some degree of seriousness last spring. He notes, "I was initially a little hesitant to ride to work because 40 minutes of physical exertion in the warm months don’t necessarily make for what might be considered presentable to refined, scholarly company." To help make the transition from riding to work, Braig wears riding clothes on the trail and packs a change of office clothes in a backpack and has a stash of toiletries in the office.
Greg Hitzhusen, a lecturer in the school says he has been bike commuting since 1998. In 1998, he says, "My car died that year, I was in graduate school, and I figured that I'd probably be just fine without a car, so decided to give it a try." Hitzhusen has been biking year-round to OSU since he began working at Ohio State in autumn 2007.
According to Hitzhusen, "When I started bike commuting in the 1990s, I did it mostly to reduce my environmental impact. Since then, I'd also say that I maintain my biking routine because it keeps me in shape, gives me some time to myself that's relaxing and energizing (versus being stuck in a car in a traffic jam), and it keeps me in touch with the weather and the great outdoors." Hitzhusen looks forward to his ride along the Olentangy River and he notes, "I also enjoy avoiding parking fees and the other costs of car commuting."
Tomas Koontz, a professor in the school and another avid bike to work commuter noted that being able to ride to work was an important consideration when choosing where he and his family would live when he joined Ohio State 16 years ago. A selling point for him he says was easy access to the Olentangy Trail that connects a number of residential communities to OSU.
Jeff Sharp, interim director of the School of Environment and Natural Resources also enjoys riding to work and reflects that he would like to ride more often. “I love the exercise of biking and the evolving scenery and wildlife found all along the route in from South Clintonville.” Similar to Koontz, Sharp notes that his decision to live in Clintonville when he moved to Columbus in 1998 was largely because the Olentangy Bike trail had recently been extended, allowing easy connection between Clintonville and Ohio State. Sharp notes for a long time (nearly 8 years or so) he did not even have a parking permit.
Learn more about how Columbus celebrates Bike to Work Day here.
Find helpful tips and information on bicycling and bicycle safety on the OSU campus here.