This Friday, Dayton Metroparks is celebrating National Bike to Work Day with a free pancake breakfast at 2nd Street Market on Webster from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
As a regular bike commuter, I clock about 30 miles a week to and from work here at P/O/N – rain or shine! (but not snow… I do know my limits!) My biking habits started in Chicago, which has a strong biking culture and bike-friendly infrastructure that encourages alternate modes of transit.
When I moved to Dayton a few years ago, I was often met with shocked reactions when I told people I biked to work. “Aren’t you afraid of getting hit?” they asked. “People here are terrible to bicyclists!”
It’s true that Dayton does not have the friendliest motorists in the world, but much of that is simply due to the fact that a biking commuter culture takes time to build. In the 3-4 years I’ve lived here, I’ve gone from feeling like I’m virtually the only biker in existence to feeling that I’m part of a vibrant biking community. And a lot of this feeling has to do with efforts the city has made to make the city a more bike-friendly place. New bike lanes and more biking trails make a big difference for daily commuters like me. The new bike hub downtown with adequate bike hookups and showers will be another boon for downtown business folks who love cycling.
The city’s efforts were recently recognized with a Bronze status designation by the American League of Bicyclists, which recognizes bike-friendly cities with bronze, silver, gold, and platinum designations. Dayton joins Columbus as the only two cities in Ohio ranked on this list.
But with the wonky Dayton weather and often unsympathetic drivers, why would anyone want to bike to work? For me, it was a decision based on economics. I was paying $57 a month for a gym membership I only used twice a week and wasting time and money in traffic to get to and from work. Add in parking costs, and biking to work simply made more sense. In fact, with all the lights running up and down the streets I use to drive in to work, it actually only takes 10 minutes longer for me to bike to work along the river bike trail than it does to drive up Main Street to P/O/N.
I went from exercising 2-3 days a week to exercising 5 days a week, biking 6 miles or more a day. Add in some additional morning weights and cardio at home, and I was able to drop my gym membership altogether and lower my health and commuting costs.
It takes a few brave folks to bring about change. Now that the city’s putting support behind your morning bike commute, what’s stopping you?Biking to work is a fantastic way to trim your wallet and your waistline, especially if you live within 1-5 miles of work. If you live further away, think about how much time you won’t have to spend at the gym anymore now that you’re biking to work, and look at the time cost/benefit. Pack a change of clothes and hit the streets! Your gym may not thank you, but health will!
And, if we’re lucky, someday maybe Dayton’s biking community will look a little more like this: