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Locals say, take a bike

BY IAN MURPHY | MAY 12, 2014 5:00 AM

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Johnson County might have been without a member of the Board of Supervisors if not for bicycling.
Supervisor Janelle Rettig said that 10 years ago, she battled Lyme disease and was very weak.  She pedaled her bike to get her strength back.

“Cycling was part of my recovery,” she said. “That’s why I’m so passionate about it. Without cycling, I don’t think I’d be a Johnson County supervisor.”

Rettig, along with many Johnson County residents, will participate in the nationally celebrated Bike to Work Week, which has been an annual county event since 2005. The supervisors on May 8 officially declared Sunday through Saturday Bike to Work Week.

According to a report by the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of people riding bikes to work increased from 488,000 in 2000 to 786,000 in 2008-2012. According to the report, that is the largest increase in any type of commuting tracked by the bureau.

“It’s a great way to get in some fitness and physical activity while transporting to work,” said Brian Loring, the media representative for Think Bicycles Coalition of Johnson County.

Think Bicycles has a slew of events planned for this week, including free meals, group rides, and guest speakers. 

Loring said the events are designed to celebrate cycling culture and for riders get miles in on the bike.

He said he hopes Bike to Work Week will get participants excited about biking and the benefits from cycling extend beyond health.

“There’s sort of a quality of life not having all the cars on the streets and parking lots,” Loring said. “It just makes for a more livable environment.”

Local bike shops are noticing an increase in traffic, tied to the changing season and possibly Bike to Work Week.

“There are a lot more people out and about,” said Ben Castaneda, a sales associate at World of Bikes. “It’s such a big thing now; people are thinking, ‘Hey, I might bike to work.’ ”

He said increased traffic in the store could be traced in part to the extra equipment commuters need, including a lock, lights, and extra tire tubes.

“There’s a lot of things that make commuting less of a headache, a lot more enjoyable,” Castaneda said. “A lot of people rekindle their love for cycling.”

Nick Sobocinski, the store manager of Geoff’s Bike and Ski, echoed this belief.

“The middle of May is a really awesome time to be riding,” he said. Although he doesn’t notice much of a difference in the number of customers, he said he looks forward to the week and the support from the community.

“It gives other people who maybe wouldn’t be riding a chance to try it out,” Sobocinski said. “The local community makes it nice and easy to get other people to commute.”

Rettig also said she is looking forward to the week and hopes to see many people out commuting to work.

“It’s not only exercise,” she said.  “You see things you wouldn’t see in a car. Hopefully, it gets some people interested in cycling.”


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