Bike to Work Day
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson May 15, 2019
UD’s Christine Schultz opted to leave the car at home and ride to work each day
About seven years ago Christine Yang Schultz, associate director of the Honors Program at the University of Delaware, decided to change her travel routine to work. Instead of driving in daily, Schultz picked up a bike and began to ride for her roughly two mile commute.
At that point, she had worked at the University more than 15 years, but she was propelled to swap when she decided parking fees didn’t make sense given her situation.
“It feels nice to just save a little money, not needing a parking permit” Schultz said. “Also, it feels good to not put extra strain on the environment by having another car out there and dealing with gas — there’s already a lot of congestion so if I can help and ride a bike and avoid some of that, that’s a nice thing, too.”
Schultz said she mostly uses her bike to commute. She does not often ride recreationally, but said biking has opened the doors to new community connections. She recognizes and greets neighbors she sees along her commute. Also, she volunteers with BikeNewark. Last week, she served as a group leader for Bike to School Week where she rode in the mornings with a group of students from her neighborhood to Downes Elementary School.
Schultz also helped organize the Bike to Work Day event on Friday, May 17 as part of National Bike Week (May 13-17). Hosted by BikeNewark in partnership with UD, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT), the City of Newark and the Newark Bike Project, this year’s event will take place from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. at Mentors’ Circle on UD’s campus. Participants are encouraged to ride to the event with others. There will be six captain-led “bike trains,” leaving from the following locations at 7:30 a.m.:
New London Road at the Fairfield Shopping Center
Newark Reservoir Park off Old Paper Mill Road
Wyoming Road at Delaware Technology Park near the James F. Hall trailhead
Tower at STAR on UD’s STAR Campus
Chrysler Avenue just off the Elkton Road intersection
John R. Downes Elementary School on Casho Mill Road
The goal of the event is to bring awareness to biking as a clean form of transportation, a healthy lifestyle choice and a source of economic development within the community. Elizabeth Finkle, director of UD Employee Health and Wellbeing, encourages those who are interested to come to the event to learn more about biking.
“Come to support colleagues who feel very passionate about biking and biking to work,” Finkle said. “The more people that show up to things like this, the greater emphasis that we will have that we are a healthy community and we are trying our best to display that and amplify it through things like biking to work.”
The event is also a great place for people that have considered commuting by bike, but are very hesitant with where to start, Finkle said.
Generally, new riders will need a good bike, a helmet and logistic plans, such as will you ride in your work clothes or change at the office? Additionally, there are state laws regarding bicycles that riders must know and follow.
“Start coming to some of the community meetings that BikeNewark has,” Finkle said. “If it’s something in regards to just feeling more comfortable on a bike, BikeNewark has ongoing events that you can come with your bike and they can make sure you know how to change a tire or what are the safety rules when riding a bike. That’s a time for you to get some of those questions answered.”
BikeNewark also hosts group bike rides on the first Fridays of the month in March through November, which is another opportunity to help new riders feel comfortable commuting on the road. BikeNewark's Mark Deshon is always happy to further discuss how interested riders can get started.
Delaware was ranked seventh overall on the 2017 Bicycle Friendly State ranking done by the The League of American Bicyclists. The ability to bike to campus is truly a draw for some.
That was the case for Jean-Philippe Laurenceau, who jumped to the University from a job in Florida, where his six-mile commute could take up to 45 minutes with traffic. When he began looking for a new job, the commute played a huge factor in his decision.
Like Schultz, Laurenceau rarely rode recreationally. He purchased his Trek Valencia bike when he first moved to Newark about 15 year ago and has ridden to work ever since. His commute takes about six minutes door-to-door.
It’s really become a lifestyle change as he commutes by bike in all weather to most local locations. “I rode my bike dressed in regalia to the Ph.D. hooding ceremony last year,” Laurenceau said with a laugh.
His coworkers and wife sometimes poke fun at him, but Laurenceau said he wouldn’t change anything. He encourages anyone that has thought about biking to work to try it for a week.
“It’s so worth it,” Laurenceau said. “Economically, I’m not using the car so it’s less on maintenance, less on parking cost and just less hassle. It’s just so great.”