Photo: State Senator Teresa Fedor and Dan Taylor (both of Toledo) cross the Olentangy River near Waldo.

Bicycling to Work

By Dan Sheridan

Originally Published in Marion Star May 31, 2009

When State Senator Teresa Fedor bicycles to work, she rides 155 miles. Marion’s Tom Bostic does not travel as far, but he’s been bicycling to work since 1978.

For three years Fedor has celebrated “Bike to Work week” by leading a “Bike to the Capitol tour” from her Toledo district to the Ohio Capitol building in Columbus. The 2009 tour took three days, with overnight stops in Findlay and Marion. Along the way, the group stopped at schools, bicycle shops, and recreational trails. State Senator Mark Wagoner, whose district adjoins Fedor’s, rode with the group on the first day.

The cyclists battled a stiff headwind as they traveled from Findlay to Marion on the second day of their tour, but were helped along by a strong tailwind on the ride from Marion to Columbus.

Six members of Marion’s Heart of Ohio Tailwinds bicycle club guided Fedor’s group from their Marion hotel to Waldo. Fedor remarked on the friendliness of the people she met in Marion, saying “It was a pleasure, and one of my favorite stops.”

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman joined Fedor’s group for the last few miles into Columbus, and 26 riders arrived at the Capitol building. Upon arrival at the Statehouse, Fedor announced that she would introduce legislation calling for a 3-foot clearance between cars and bicycles. “This bill will make Ohio more bicycle-friendly and promote a healthier lifestyle for Ohioans,” said Fedor.

Fedor’s first Bike to the Capitol tour was an effort to raise awareness about health education standards in Ohio schools. The theme has broadened in subsequent years to include a message of biking to work and creating bike-friendly communities. Fedor stated “I hope that my journey inspires others to get active, bike to work and take advantage of the wonderful trails in their area.”

While Tom Bostic’s commutes are not as dramatic as Fedor’s, he estimates that he bicycles or walks to work at least a hundred times a year. He bicycles to his job at Central Ohio Farmer’s Co-op from March through October each year. Bostic finds that bicycling to work is a great stress reliever, and the 6 mile round trip helps him to consistently build exercise into his daily schedule.

While Bostic enjoys bicycling or walking to work in Marion, he is impressed with the efforts to enhance bicycle commuting in other communities. Amsterdam, in the Netherlands, has a multistory bicycle parking garage that holds 7,000 bicycles. Closer to home, an estimated 20 to 25% of all trips in Davis, California are made by bicycle.

The fear of a “perspiration odor” keeps some commuters from biking to work. According to Bostic, a reasonably fit cyclist will not sweat much on a two to four mile morning commute, since mornings are the coolest part of the day. When needed, Bostic washes in a bathroom upon arrival at work. He usually carries his work clothes in a backpack when riding to work, and changes when he arrives. He usually rides home in his work clothes, although he may change into shorts and a t-shirt if the weather is warm.

Bostic offers the following tips for those who are considering biking to work:

1) Have a secure place to keep your bike, and lock the bike.

2) Ride on quiet roads, when possible. Bostic tries to stick to roads with a 25 or 35 mph speed limit.

3) Have a flashing taillight on your bike, even if you only ride during daylight hours.

4) Be prepared for the elements. Bostic will not start a bicycle commute in the rain, but he is prepared if he is caught in the rain.

5) Practice “defensive biking”, especially at intersections. Many drivers are not used to seeing bicycles, and may be so focused on cars that they do not notice a cyclist.

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Photo: State Senator Teresa Fedor and Dan Taylor (both of Toledo) cross the Olentangy River near Waldo. (Photo by Dan Sheridan)