Bicyclists made a statement last Friday as they pedaled to work at the 11th annual Bike- To-Work Day. At Market Square in Old Town, bikers gathered for a breather before heading up the river to D.C., Crystal City and points north.
For Alexandria resident Tim Teehan, it saves gas and gives him a good workout. Its the best way to save my day, he said.
Pamela Dudzik of Springfield rides five days a week when possible, and likes being outdoors. It helps with mental health, she said.
Laurie Sampson was on her way to her job at the World Wildlife Fund in Foggy Bottom. The pro-environment atmosphere at work contributed to her biking decision. Im trying to do a few more things that fit in with that mission, she said.
City Councilwoman Del Pepper is a casual rider, but biked that day also. This is a blow for global warming and obesity, she said.
Outlooks were positive all around as the bicyclists came and went all morning, continuing the momentum of saving energy and making a difference that seems to have swept the country over the last few years. Bike-To-Work Day was unofficially launched in 1972 by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), and was given a boost later that year when the Federal Highway Act of 1972 authorized funds for bicycle facilities. WABA launched a program at that time called Ride On!! that included suggestions for improving the bicycling environment in the Washington area.
Fast forward 35 years and the bicycle has become a real transportation option for many in the area. This year, WABA registered 6,000 cyclists for the event. Its busier than Ive seen it, said Jerry King, the president of Alexandrias BikeWalk chapter. King has attended the Bike to Work Day every year since 1999. The Alexandria reported over 400 riders at this years event, which is an increase of 20 percent from last year, and WABA reported 6,600 riders.
Alexandria resident Jennifer Wills doesnt even own a car and depends on her bike to get to Federal Triangle in Washington. She looks at the traffic, admitting I couldnt drive in it, she said.
This is all in tune with the City of Alexandrias recent Pedestrian and Bicycle Mobility Plan, which is in the approval process and expects to be open for comments from the residents this summer. The plan will provide a blueprint for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure improvements over the next 10 years as funds become available. Officials hope that implementation of the plan will result in safer conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists, and they hope to make walking and biking more attractive options in Alexandria.
Yon Lambert, the Alexandrias pedestrian and bicycle program coordinator in the Transportation and Environmental Services Department, noted the citys enthusiasm towards bicycles as a viable transportation option.
We want people to ride their bicycles, the city is real supportive, he said.
Some of the biking projects currently underway in Alexandria include an improvement in a road crossing on Eisenhower Ave., a trail widening project near Pendleton and Canal Streets, and a bridge going from Commonwealth to Eads Street at the Arlington-Alexandria line.
Sponsors of the ride and the supplies at the rest stops included Commuter Connections, WABA, Greenpeace, Sport & Health clubs, Crystal City, Whole Foods, City Bikes, ICF International, St. Elmos, Zip Car, Bike Walk Alexandria and Go DC Go.