“I ride about four or five times a month,” she said, adding that she rarely hops on her two-wheeler in the winter. “I don’t ride it enough.”
Luckily for DiNapoli-Cotter and bicyclists in the Reno-Sparks area, national Bike to Work Day fell on a beautiful Friday morning, when even the most picky weather-dependent riders couldn’t complain.
DiNapoli-Cotter and her husband, Rex, who live near Mendive Middle School in Sparks, made their first bike ride to work starting at 5:30 a.m. Friday to IGT in south Reno, more than 12 miles away.
“We’re doing it for health benefits,” DiNapoli-Cotter said, with a laugh before adding, “At Burning Man, if you like checking out the artwork on the playa, it’s a good idea to get in shape because some of those exhibits are way out there.”
Be it saving money, enjoying the morning scenery or simply just getting the legs ready for the Black Rock Desert, more than 860 bicyclists registered online to participate in Friday’s Bike to Work Day, according to planning committee member Carol Perry of Northern Nevada Bike to Work.
That number is nearly 500 more than last year, she said.
“There’s been substantial growth,” said Perry, who has been on the committee since its inception locally in 2006. “It’s very exciting.”
This year also marks the first year for a commuter challenge, Perry said, explaining that businesses were encouraged to sign up and have their employees register to bike to work with the business with the most employees biking to work winning recognition awards.
Also, like previous years, local coffee shops signed up to offer free coffee to bicyclists before work, Perry said, with the main goal being to promote alternative transportation methods and active lifestyles.
“We promote bicycling for many reasons, for all its benefits, really,” Perry said. “Health benefits to individuals, health benefits to the community, reduce traffic congestion — we promote Bike to Work Day to bring awareness to the community.”
Such awareness, Perry added, hopefully turns into retention, as previous data of the area has shown. Last year, of the 354 registered bicyclists for Bike to Work Day, 28 percent reported that it was their first time commuting to work and 15 percent of the first-timers went on to commuting via bike at least 30 times over the next six months.
“The data shows that there’s a significant portion of people that try commuting to work and will continue to do so even after the excitement and incentives are gone,” Perry said. “It’s effective at helping to change behaviors.”
Naturally, commuting to work on bike may not be the easiest option for most, but Perry encourages people to have a little creativity in regards to routes by taking advantage of bike racks on Regional Transportation Commission buses and carpooling for certain parts of the commute.
“So often though, psychological hurdles are the biggest part (to overcome when commuting on bike).” Perry said. “You don’t have to ride your bicycle every day. It’s not going to fit into everybody’s schedule. We just want people to start trying it out.”
For “simply trying” it out, the numbers are staggering.
According to RTC’s online calorie, monetary and carbon monoxide emission calculator, if all of this year’s 862 registered bicyclists averaged a 10-mile round trip commute, more than 400 pounds of carbon monoxide would be reduced there would be a collective savings of $9,326 that otherwise would have been spent on gas.
“It’s a win, win, win for the community,” Perry said. “We’re helping to reduce global warming … and in this down economy, building new roads is very expensive. If we can change travel habits where we don’t have to keep building new roads … we’re going to save a lot for the community.”
Employers also benefit from more bike-inclined lifestyles from their employees, Perry said, explaining that employees are typically more productive and focus better after biking to work.
“Your mood is elevated,” Perry said, who regularly bikes to work. “You have a sense of accomplishment, you’re ready to focus, ready to get in and gear into projects. It’s a great advantage to employers.”
Which was DiNapoli-Cotter’s exact sentiments, as she sipped her free coffee at Moxie Java coffee shop in south Reno.
“I’ll definitely do it again,” she said, with a smile.
For more information about Bike to Work Day, visit www.gethealthywashoe.com/biketowork.