23 UChicago teams compete in Bike to Work Week

July 7, 2011

Dominating Bike to Work Week (BTWW) with a total of 23 teams, the University of Chicago logged over 4,500 miles, the approximate distance from Chicago to San Francisco and back. This is the University’s second year of organized participation in the Active Transportation Alliance’s (ATA) city-wide event and UChicago saw a 77% increase in department participation from last year.

Over 200 people biked all or part of their commute to work during the week of June 11th – 17th. One cyclist, Barry O’Quinn, rode a total of 204 miles. “I made seven trips to and from work,” reports O’Quinn, Senior Manager for the Sheet and Metal Shop in Facilities Services, “and I saved about $50 in gas and lost 2 pounds!”

This year, the Office of Sustainability partnered with Café 57, Blackstone Bicycle Works, and Open Produce to host a Bike Pit Stop for cyclists. From 6:30am – 9am, the pit stop offered free refreshments, basic bicycle maintenance at no charge, and free water bottles from ATA, as well as the chance to win a one-year Zipcar membership.

Elizabeth Bartom, Team Leader for the Institute on Genomics and Systems Biology, pulled into the Bike Pit Stop with two toddlers and a second bicycle in tow. “I commute from Lincoln Park a few times a week,” Bartom states, “and when I bring both kids, Talya sits in the front and Edden rides in the back, when he’s not pedaling his own bike alongside me.”

Rebecca Thal, Team Leader two years running for the Center for Health and the Social Sciences, bikes to work from Uptown. “This year I tried cycling through the winter and it changed my life,” reports Thal. “The lakefront path is impressively well-maintained throughout the year, and with a good set of lights on my bike, I felt completely confident riding in all seasons.”

Team Leader Neil Weijer volunteered to escort riders one morning during BTWW, and organized a group ride from the Shedd Aquarium to Hyde Park for the Career Advising and Planning Services (CAPS) department. “I was surprised at how receptive the office was to joining a group ride,” Weijer stated. “Eight people signed up for the ride and we picked Museum Campus because it was accessible by bus, in case people were uncomfortable riding for longer distances or in city traffic.”

Kathy Forde, Team Leader for the Office of the Dean of Students in the College, worked with colleague and avid cyclist, Matthew Champa, to organize a BTWW Social for her department. “We offered refreshments and discussed safe route selection, basic bike repair, and tips for trips, among other things,” said Forde. “We wanted to encourage colleagues to bike to work, in part, because we were vying for the pizza party and bragging rights for being the UChicago team with the highest percentage of participation. A quarter of the department ended up participating, which we are really proud of,” reported Forde. “We hope more will join us for next year’s Bike to Work Week!”

University of Chicago Press won the pizza party for the department with highest percentage of participation. Twelve of the 31 participants do not typically ride to work, but made the two-wheeled commute in support of the week-long event. Many made a trip of three miles or less to the office or nearest metra or train, while several others biked over 15 miles to work. “We are thrilled,” reports Ellen Gibson, UChicago Press Team Leader. “My colleagues who don’t typically commute to work by bike really enjoyed the experience, and many are now biking to work more frequently after participating in Bike to Work Week this year.”

Over the last few years, the University of Chicago has taken steps to support cycling on campus, including introducing the free recycles bike share program and making the main quadrangle a car-free zone which encourages increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic. Most recently, the University of Chicago launched the Bike Commuter Benefit Pilot Program which offers half-priced three-month gym memberships for cyclists, providing an end-of-trip facility in which to shower. As a result of these and other initiatives, the University received an honorable mention as a Bicycle Friendly University this spring.

Congratulations to the BTWW 2011 Teams!

• Astronomy and Physics Department

• Career Advising and Planning Services Department

• Booth School of Business

• BSD Dean’s Office

• Center for Advancing Research & Communications

• Center for Health & the Social Sciences

• Chapin Hall

• Facilities Services

• Humanities Division

• Information Technology Services

• Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology

• Lab High School Learning and Counseling Office

• Library

• Medical Center Development

• Nephrology, Medical Center

• Office of Clinical Research

• Office of the Dean of Students in the College

• Office of Multicultural Student Affairs

• PE and Athletics

• Physics Department

• Student Counseling and Resource Service

• University of Chicago Press

• UChicago Tech