Commuting by bike can be challenging in many areas of Tucson, but riding a bike to Raytheon Missile Systems at the airport site on Herman¹s Road can be downright scary. Randy Rogers-Gardner, Manager of the Energy Conservation Program within Environmental, Health, Safety at Raytheon, overcame his fears and now commutes 35 miles to and from work.
Although the distance, time and hazards of bike commuting were somewhat daunting for Randy in the beginning, he was encouraged by co-workers and the potential benefits and savings. Now three years later, 18 pounds lighter, and hundreds of dollars and pounds of pollution saved, Randy is very comfortable commuting by bike and looks forward to his ride to and from the office. Randy¹s bike commute gives him time to unwind and relax from a hectic work day, reflect on his life and enjoy the outdoors with the unique aromas of the season.
For those interested in commuting by bike but who are fearful and intimidated by the task, Randy suggests that you start out with short distance rides to become comfortable with traffic and tricky intersections. Riding with a more experienced bike buddy is also a good way to get started and learn the easier routes or take one of the training classes offered by Pima County and the City of Tucson, http://www.bikeped.pima.gov/allsafetyclasses.html.
Many of us started riding a bike as a child but as we got older and learned how to drive, the bicycle became a less attractive mode of transportation. Not so for Doug Crockett, Energy Manager for the City of Tucson. Doug became an avid cyclist while working on a merit badge as a boy scout. While in the army, Doug bought old beater bikes for transportation, fixed them up and then sold them for a profit when he was relocated. After 40 years Doug continues to ride a bike regularly including his 12-mile commute to work.
Doug commutes to work twice a week by bike and carpools the other days. He estimates that he saves about $2,000/year on fuel and maintenance expenses and a lot more by not having to join a gym for his workouts. Doug loves being outdoors, thinks the southern Arizona climate is ideal for cycling, and says “regular cycling is my preferred way to stay in touch with the natural elements and seasonal wilderness inside of Tucson’s urban environment.” Cycling is also empowering for Doug because he gets around town with his own source of renewable energy.
Many years ago when Doug had just started commuting by bike, he learned a valuable lesson. Riding along on a residential street, thinking about work with his head down, he ran into a parked car. Luckily he had only minor injuries, but he learned to pay attention to where he was going (something recommended by Dan Holladay, bike commuter.) and use bike lights at night. Doug has switched to a recumbent bike, which he believes is safer and provides greater health benefits. Doug advises all new bikers to start with short distance rides or maybe start by biking to the bus.