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65 riders taking bike commute challenge

Photo Credit: STAFF PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - These teachers from Lake Oswego Junior and Senior high schools commute by bike year round. From left are Joe Godfrey, Ian Reeves, Chris Rodegerdts, Jeff Goodrich, Mike Fish and Kevin Thompson.The Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) has launched the 2014 Bicycle Commute Challenge in which more than 1,200 workplaces across Oregon and southwest Washington will compete to see who can make the most commutes by bike.

Locally 13 riders from Lake Oswego Junior High, six from Lake Oswego High School, three from the Bike Gallery and 25 from the City of Lake Oswego are competing, as well as three riders from West Linn Paper Company, seven from the City of West Linn and eight from West Linn High School.

Bike Gallery Bike Commute Challenge members Jonathan Bohbot and Christopher Delaney shared information about their commutes.

“My commute is about two and a half miles,” Bohbot said, who lives near Lake Oswego High School. “It’s an easy downhill ride on the way to work and takes less than ten minutes. It’s nice and relaxing on the way home, just a nice slow climb up Country Club.” His advice for those wishing to start commuting by bike is to “start small, go on ten-mile rides and get the right gear to make commuting easy.”

Delaney’s commute is a 24-mile round-trip ride, originating in north Portland. It takes him about an hour each way.

“The Sellwood Bridge is hard to use right now but not insurmountable,” he said. “The westside intersection is incredibly dangerous.”

Photo Credit: STAFF PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Jonathan Bohbot prepares for his evening bike commute home.

Lake Oswego Junior High has a “pretty good contingent of bike commuters,” according to math teacher Kevin Thompson.

“My commute is about ten miles round-trip,” he said. “The most dangerous part of the ride is the distracted driver, especially around intersections. There aren’t any huge hills on the way to work. The most annoying part about commuting is the rain. We have been blessed this year!”

Lake Oswego High science teacher Jeff Goodrich bikes daily to school and has done so for many years.

“My commute from southwest Portland is not too long, about six miles each way, but very hilly,” he said. “”What I like best is not using a car, the exercise, getting to school and feeling like I’m already in the zone and saving money.”

He said riding where there is no shoulder and negotiating blind corners with moderate amounts of relatively high speed traffic in the afternoon commute can be unnerving. Rain and darkness can also impact his ride, however he noted that both are less important now than they were when he began commuting.

“The thing that most impacts my ride is my energy level,” Goodrich said. “On those days when you wake up and are dragging at 5-whatever in the morning, getting on the bike might not be all that desirable. However, once I get going and arrive at school I’m always happy I rode. Cycling always perks me up.”

Fellow teammate Karen Silverstein has a short commute of just 3.4 miles roundtrip.

“Although my biggest reason is to help the environment, the added bonus of the cost savings on gas and the added exercise are also good reasons to give up the car for my commute,” she said.

She believes more people would ride their bikes if bike and pedistrian lanes were better separated from car traffic.

“I see drivers on a regular basis weaving very close to the bike lane while checking their phones,” she said. “My hope is that in the future, we could design roads with planted dividers between the car lanes and the bike lanes. I believe a much larger number of people would ride their bikes to work or to run errands if they felt safer.”

Several employees at the City of Lake Oswego commute regularly, including Kevin Batridge.

“I bike commute regularly from Canby to the Lake Oswego Water Treatment Plant in West Linn three to five days a week, then cylce up Highway 43 to the WTP,” he said. “I usually do the exact same in reverse going home, but often ride my bike all the way to Canby as well. One city employee benefit I take advantage of is city reimbursement for the cost of the CAT (Canby Area Transit) bus pass.”

At West Linn High School, teacher Andy West said participation in the challenge has been “slow but steady.” He and fellow teacher Monica Emerick have been encouraging staff members to bike to work.

“‘West Linn is hilly,’ and ‘There aren’t bike lanes where I need them’ are the two most common responses we hear from colleagues,” he said. “The stalwart group of teachers who participate do so because September is such a beautiful month, it’s a way of extending summer fitness, it sets a great example for the kids in our classes, it promotes health fitness and environmental awareness, and it’s cool.”

Some big challenges are already being thrown out across the region, with more to come. The Trail Blazers have challenged Moda, Daimler called out Adidas and Intel is seeking to avenge last year’s loss to Nike. Follow BTA’s social media channels throughout the month to see who wins.

Whether you sign up individually or with an organization, logging just one trip during September will qualify you to win prizes, raise your team’s position in the standings and get you invited to the awards party in October.

To register go online to bikecommutechallenge.com with an existing team or create your own, get that bike tuned up and that helmet ready and start riding. If you combine bus or train travel with your bike ride, the commute still counts. Just log the miles you spent on the bike.

To learn more about the challenge, register and view rider resources such as using hand signals and riding in the rain, visit bikecommutechallenge.com.

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