Bike commuters gathered at UD on May 18 to highlight the benefits of bicycling and talk about its challenges.

2 wheels to work

Bicycle commuters celebrate two-wheeled transport, proposed policy changes

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4:27 p.m., May 21, 2012--Spandex and bagels made for a power breakfast Friday morning.  Outside Trabant University Center on the University of Delaware campus in Newark, approximately 50 cyclists gathered for morning munchies and encouraging words from some Delaware leaders in honor of National Bike to Work Day.

The event celebrated bicycle commuting, highlighting its benefits and raising awareness of its challenges.  Its greatest challenges are not the obvious cardiovascular ones; proponents say those are easily overcome. Rather, they are the policy challenges, the most weighty being funding concerns.

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“It’s not one of those things that is big in legislation so it takes grassroots efforts,” said Mark Deshon, a UD employee and member of the Newark Bicycle Committee, which organized the event.

Those grassroots efforts brought Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper and Newark Mayor Vance Funk to the event as featured guests.  Each talked about his support of the bike commuting movement.  

“We are going to be the best biking community in the U.S., I know it, and it’s because of you,” Funk said. 

Funk said he plans to advocate the idea of turning one of Main Street’s two lanes into a bike lane.  Carper said he was encouraged by the crowd’s commitment to exercise, something he sees as essential to lowering the cost of health care.

For his part, Markell discussed his allocation of $13 million in the state’s proposed budget earmarked for bike trails.

James Wilson, executive director of advocacy group Bike Delaware, applauded Markell’s commitment.

“In every other place in the country where bicycling has become a mainstream transportation option, people have spent a little bit of money,” he said.  He used Portland, Ore., as an example, saying that city’s effort cost the equivalent amount to paving one mile of urban freeway.

The event’s organizers hope more commuters will consider bicycling to work, so one day they will no longer need to organize similar gatherings. 

“Wouldn’t it be great if oil companies at some point in time had to get sponsorships and raise events for Ride Your Car to Work Day?” Deshon said.

Article by Andrea Boyle Tippett

Photos by Lane McLaughlin

Video by Andrea Boyle Tippett

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