Whether you're a novice or an experienced rider, here's why Bike to Work Day may be for you

May 19, 2016

This Friday is National Bike-to-Work Day, and local organizations are pushing hard to get you to consider using pedal power that day.

KCBX recently followed two local women; one who has been riding for years and one who is taking it up for the first time in about a decade.

It's an early weekday morning and Alexandra Robin is arriving to work on her bike. It's a routine she's been in for a couple of years now.

" I took a big break for about twenty-five years to raise my son and family, I started in about 1979 and road through the end of the 80's."

Robin uses a mixture of transportation, starting with a bus near her home in Atascadero. 

"The buses in this area have six bike racks and the regular routine of getting on the bus in the morning is, the bus drives up a few of us put our bikes on the bus, they lock on with this little clamp thing," she said.

She gets off in San Luis Obispo and then it's about four miles to work. 

"There's about three restaurants that I pass that are cooking breakfast at 6 o'clock in the morning and I always yell out breakfast because it smells so good."

Robin works at The Spice Hunter, where management has made accommodations for her transportation choice.

"We have an empty office that's a storage office which I call the bike room, so I take my helmet off and I hang it on this special way on my bicycle," she said. 

She also has access to a shower room and a closet that has her change of clothes for the day. 

Robin says her routine is not only enjoyable, but is financially beneficial. 

"I save probably two-hundred dollars a moth maybe, its forty-four dollars a month to ride the bus back and forth to work," she said. 

Robin says she started riding her bike to work around the time that gas prices started to rise. 

"And then in the afternoon I live in North County so I ride my bike all the way home. It's wonderful you know, I feel good and I earn my dinner and it's a wonderful way to exercise," she said.

Just down the street is Wally's Bicycle Works where owner Walter Ajanel explains how to pick the right bicycle for his customers.

"First of all I have to see, have to make sure they feel comfortable on the bicycle but more than comfort you have to figure  out how long it's been since they've been on a bicycle and how long the commute is going to be," Ajanel said. 

He's working with SLO County Rideshare to help outfit those who want to take part in Bike to Work Day, but don't yet have the equipment, including first-time rider Kim Anderson. 

"I knew the exact bike to grab for her," he said. 

"Wally pretty much picked out a bike that would work for me like immediately," Anderson said. 

She hasn't been on a bike since her teens. 

Anderson says that once she got her driver's license she didn't really have a use for a bike.

Recently that changed.

"Well I have been kind of thinking about it because I've seen one or two coworkers ride their bikes and I don't live that far from my work, it's only about three miles," she said.

Anderson says she didn't want to invest in a bike without trying it first.

"Especially with being shaky and kind of wobbly and there's cars around and I was a little scared but I ended up riding the bike home from his shop as soon as I got it," she said.

Her test ride is working out the way the bike shop was hoping, making Anderson a convert pretty quickly.

"Pretty much after the first day I did it I was like I need to go buy a bike because this is fun it fits some exercise into my day which I really need because I have a desk job," she said. 

Peter Williamson  hopes this scenario plays out over and over this week.

He runs a SLO County outreach program that works with employers to promote alternative modes of transportation to their employees.

"Friday will be the day to get on your bike we are doing the rentals, the bike lockers but there's also meet-ups we're using Meetups SLO and of course once they get to a bike to work day breakfast station they can get a bag that has a bike to work day shirt," he said. 

While Friday is Bike to Work Day, the entire month of May is Bike to Work Month, if Friday doesn't fit your schedule.