By Tim Cherry, Belvoir EagleMay 11, 2012
FORT BELVOIR, Va. (May 10) -- Fort Belvoir employees are invited to participate in Commuter Connections and Washington Area Bicyclist Association's Bike to Work Day, May 18.
Bike to Work Day showcases benefits of bicycling to work, such as cost savings and pollution reduction.
Organizers expect 12,000 commuters to cycle to their offices during this free occasion for new and experienced bicyclist in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
The first 11,000 commuters to register receive a free t-shirt, available at any of the 58 regional pit stops during the event. Pit stop hours of operations vary with location.
Employees are encouraged to include their employer's information during registration for a chance to win a bike rack and a catered lunch for their organization.
Fort Belvoir has encouraged more bicycling on post recently by installing 3-foot wide bicycle lanes at several locations, such as Belvoir Road and Pohick Road.
Chris Landgraf, Directorate of Public Works chief facility planning master planner, said bicycling commuters reduce car emissions and the amount of cars on post, which improves traffic flow.
Landgraf, who commutes eight miles in 30 minutes as least twice a week, said biking also saves money.
"I probably save $40 per month because I don't have to fill up as often," said Landgraf who estimated his yearly savings at $300 dollars, after bike maintenance costs. Barring meeting conflicts, Landgraf expects to cycle to Belvoir for Bike to Work Day.
"Now is the time to bike to work," said Nicholas Ramfos, Commuter Connections director.
Ramfos said participants can ride in groups providing safety and security for novice riders. Group sizes will vary with commuter's destination.
Bike to Work Day officials will work at regional pit stops, helping new riders determine the safest routes to work. Ramfos hopes the event gives riders confidence to continue biking to work.
Novice riders can also participate in one of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association Adult Bicyclist Education courses. The classes prepare students for biking commuting by covering the basics of trail and street riding in a class room setting and on physical terrain.
Instructors teach students lessons such as proper signaling, three point turning, weaving and emergency stopping.
The class is offered in Arlington, Va., Washington D.C., and Alexandria Va. Registration cost varies from $5 to $30.
Dupree Heard, WABA program coordinator, said the course provides participants skills to become more comfortable bike commuting.
Heard, a daily bike commuter himself, travels 9.5 miles in 43 to 47 minutes saving $140 per week. In addition to savings, Heard said biking allows him to accurately predict his arrival time to work.
"You don't know what car traffic is going to be like, you don't know if the metro is going to be on time, but on a bike your very likely to predict when you'll arrive to work," said Heard, who suggest Hybrid bikes and Cyclo-cross bikes for new commuters.
The Fort Belvoir garrison encourages bicycling commuters to exercise caution on and off post.
Timothy Wolfe, Fort Belvoir police chief, said officers will issue tickets to cyclists who disobey traffic laws such as running red lights.
"We have bicycle lanes on these new wider roads but you still have to be careful," Wolfe said.
According to the Fort Belvoir Safety Office, more than half a million bicyclist visit the hospital because of injuries received from collisions and falling off a bike, with the most serious crashes occurring on neighborhood streets.
Bridget Smalls, Safety Office safety specialist, recommends cyclists wear helmets, gloves, mouth guards, bright clothing during the day and reflective clothing at night. Riders should also use bell horns, headlights and taillights. According to Army Safety Program Regulation 385-10, cyclists are prohibited from wearing headphones while riding on post.
Smalls urges biking commuters to stay alert at all times.
"Assume that drivers don't know you're there," said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Adam Samuels, Defense Threat Reduction Agency's cooperative biological engagement program, OCONUS training program test and evaluation manager.
Samuels was hit last year by a driver making a right hand turn without seeing Samuels on Backlick Road in Springfield, Va. Samuels didn't receive serious injuries from the accident.
The DTRA employee commutes an average of four times per week and estimated saving $40 during his 6.5 mile, 40-minute commute. Once on the installation, Samuels uses trails and sidewalks to travel from North Post to South Post.
Samuels looks forward to riding Gunston Road's 3-foot wide bicyle lanes north and south bound, once construction is completed May 15.
As the temperature continues to increase, biking to work may become a sweaty endeavor for employees.
The cyclists recommend arriving to work early and showering. For more information or to register online, visit www.biketoworkmetrodc.org. For more information on WABA, visit www.waba.org/education/adult.php.