E-Learning Technology Specialist and instructor Ron Austin motivates his coworkers at Bellevue College to join the “Bike Everywhere Challenge” hosted by the Cascade Bicycle Club in May as part of their “Bike Everywhere Month.” During the challenge, teams or solo competitors try to ride their bikes as much as possible and join an online trip-taking contest. “Bike riders will get into better shape, save money, reduce their carbon output and earn bragging rights,” stated Austin. “What could be better?”
When the challenge starts, participants will be tracking the miles they bike and every team will calculate the total mileage of all its members. From trips to work or school, or just to the coffee shop, all rides longer than 176 yards are accepted. The most successful individuals and teams will be rewarded with prizes. Every year, members of the community including organizations such as Microsoft and several schools take part in the competition.
In 2008, Austin was the first employee to start a Bellevue College bike team. “At that time, I was biking several days a week from Bothell to Bellevue,” he explained, detailing the origin of this idea. Between 2008 and 2010, he organized the team and then took a break from it until this year. Austin stated “it is fun to be involved with starting it up again,” and he hopes to promote bicycling and build community through the challenge. For those who are afraid of biking to work because Bellevue College is situated on the top of a hill, Austin suggested to “take the bus in to work and then coast down” on the way home.
As an instructor from the Department of Environmental Science, Nancy Lane thinks that the “Bike Everywhere Challenge” is great. She explained that driving cars and trucks is the largest contributor of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere of Washington and that therefore “anything we can do to reduce that will help lessen global warming.”
Biking about “hundred or two hundred miles per week,” Instructor Russ Payne is looking forward to entering the competition again. He estimated that he first participated eight years ago and since joined in about three or four times. “I do all sort of things with the Cascade Bicycle Club and I do some bicycle advocacy,” explained Payne. Keeping up with other people at Bellevue College who cycle a lot and getting to see where they ride are some benefits he gained from being part of the challenge. “The hardest part is just remembering to get online and log your miles,” Payne said.
Payne noted that there are also some professional athletes joining the challenge each year and described Bellevue College’s team as not that competitive. “We’re logging the miles to show that we are riding and that this is how we travel,” he stated. “It’s just part of a community effort to get better recognition of cycling and better space for us on the roads.” Payne said that he rides his bike instead of driving his car partly for environmental reasons and partly to regain personal power in a country where most public space is devoted exclusively to cars. “It is really difficult for a person to move around their environment under their own power,” claimed Payne. According to him, riding the bicycle is a “matter of liberty.”