Wheels of Change: Bike to Work Challenge
April 11, 2012 · Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch, Perkiomen Valley Patch, Abington Patch
By Tony Di Domizio
If you think the price of gas is too high, or that your waistline is a little too wide, the Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association (GVF) thinks you should ride your bike.
GVF, founded in 1990 in an effort to reduce congestion on the region’s roadways, kicks off its fourth annual Bike to Work Challenge April 30. The challenge rolls for 20 weeks, through Sept. 14.
GVF started the program in 2009, with 100 participants who pledged to ride a bike to work instead of driving a car, at least once a week. Riders track the miles they log – strictly to and from work, as recreational riding is excluded for the purposes of the challenge. The average rider in 2011 rode to work 18 times for a total of 320 miles.
“We are dedicated to reducing congestion, and there is no more effective method to do so than to remove vehicles from our roadways,” said GVF Communications Director Carissa Bobenchik. “Biking to work is the best way to get people out of their cars and into a healthier lifestyle. The benefits touch all aspects of your life, not just spending less money at the pump.”
But the fatter-wallet side effect is certainly an effective motivator.
“Each mile you ride saves 55 cents from your transportation expenses,” Bobenchik said. “It adds up real quick.”
For example, last year’s top mileage rider, Jim Rebarchak logged 1,816 miles over the course of the 20-week challenge, netting him almost $1,000 in savings.
“We are spending more money on gas than ever in our history,” Bobenchik said. “Biking to work offers a low-cost alternative to high gas prices. [It’s] great for your health, great for your wallet, and it is much more fun than sitting in traffic.”
"Probably the most important contribution and substantial benefit any one of us can make for our environment is to consider the environmental benefits of our transportation, whether we take mass transit, bike, walk or carpool, said Rebarchek, an air quality program manager at PA DEP. “GVF's Bike to Work Challenge places this in the forefront of our minds for 20 weeks out of the year. This is a great program and one that I look forward to every year.”
Funded in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Bike to Work Challenge offers participants prizes and giveaways, donated by local businesses and organizations. This year, program supporters include Cadence Cycling and Multisport.
Prizes are awarded each week, recognizing the riders with the most days and the most miles logged. And the prizes change every week, so Bobenchick encourages riders to take every week seriously and check the website to see what they can win.
Anyone who registers and rides by Bike to Work Day, observed on May 18, will be entered to win a Platinum Fit Bike from Cadence Cycling, valued at $299.
“We recognize both days and miles, because we don’t want to discourage people who live close to work from participating if they don’t think they can log a lot of miles,” Bobenchik said. “It’s all about changing habits, not simply logging miles.”
You can register as an individual, as a team, or as a corporate team, although Bobenchik said that companies who wish to enter a team must be members of GVF. Registration is free for individuals, and is now open on the GVF Bike to Work Challenge website, where you’ll be asked for some basic information, such as where you start and finish your ride.
“This may differ from home and work, since some people drive and park at a trailhead, and finish their commute by bike,” Bobenchik explained.
At the conclusion of the challenge in September, team participants will receive a certificate to display their total miles logged, number of days ridden, and how much money they saved, as well as a prize pack.
But the real prize is saving money and getting fit.
“Rather than burning gas, you are burning calories,” Bobenchik said. “The benefits are huge.”
Source: Montgomeryville-Lansdale Patch