By Marisa Petrich, Northwest GuardianJune 24, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., June 27, 2011 -- Staff Sgt. Matthew Carter, 23rd Chemical Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, always loved riding his bike. He rode it as a kid. He rode it while he was stationed in Germany.
Now he rides his bike to and from work at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., weather permitting. Everyday he goes from the Beachwood Housing on Lewis North to Lewis Main, not to mention additional trips for fun on the weekends.
“I think it’s great,” he said.
Carter does it for the exercise, the environmental benefits and to ease traffic congestion all over the installation -- and he’s not the only one seeing the benefits.
Last week the group of 26 participants who logged bike trips during Bike to Work Month in May came together to eat lunch, get prizes and discuss ways to improve biking on the installation.
It was Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s most successful Bike to Work Month to date. The group took a combined total of 255 trips and traveled 4,863 miles.
Last year participants logged just over 50 trips in the same month.
“It’s a pretty nice start,” Pierce Transit marketing and communication specialist Zach Shaner said.
Shaner credits the success to promotion of the program, a timely spike in gas prices and, of course, the generous prizes that were offered this year.
The participants who took the top three most trips received $250 gift certificates to Bike Tech, plus 10 $100 certificates given to participants at random.
It was the cost of driving that encouraged Tim Weldin to reduce his number of car trips four years ago. Weldin, who works in JBLM’s environmental division, logged 23 and 644 miles in May, more than any other participant.
“I gotta do something cause I’m tired of paying these gas prizes,” he said of his thoughts at the time.
Now he bikes to work from Spanaway from April through September. With so many Soldiers back from deployments, Weldin’s sees even more reason to keep his car off the road whenever he can.
Sustainability outreach coordinator Miriam Villacian is noticed something else.
“Myself, just visually, I see more bikers around here than I ever have before,” she said.
The community aspect is important. While hearing the results of their efforts and waiting to see if they’ve earned a prize, the group chatted about ways biking on base could be improved. More bike paths and room away from cars, for instance, would help a lot of them on their commutes.
In the end every little bit helps.
“It’s a cliché, but it saves you money, it’s easier [and] you don’t have to worry about traffic so it saves you stress,” Villacian said.
Additional $100 prizes are being offered to those who use alternative commutes at JBLM through July and August.