Juneau bikers pedal rather than pay at the pump

Friday events will celebrate cycling, alternative commutes

Posted: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

At Glacier Cycles in the Airport Mini Mall, owner Dennis Travis said more people are biking, but Juneau was big on biking before the latest surge in gas prices.

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"This is a pretty good community for biking, with all the biking trails," he said while dealing with the rush of customers before closing Tuesday.

While Travis said many already are commuting by bike, Juneau is one of thousands of communities across the country that will encourage more pedaling Friday on National Bike to Work and School Day.

Cheryl Levitt worked with the Juneau Freewheelers to organize the event. She said commuting by bike just feels good. "It's hard not to feel great when you're sitting at your desk at 9 a.m. having already gotten your body moving and some fresh air in your lungs."

Juneau resident Barbara Kelly said saving money also is a good reason to ride a bike. "With gas (over) $3 a gallon, I think cycling as a means of transportation is looking more attractive to a lot of folks."

Even while working with the Legislature on oil-industry taxation, Gov. Frank Murkowski last week signed a proclamation declaring Friday as Bike to Work and School Day in Alaska.

The national event is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists as part of National Bike Month. The Juneau Freewheelers have set out to welcome walkers, runners, in-line skaters and even kayakers to share in making Friday a car-free day in the capital. For anyone who comes in "self-propelled, the group will offer a free continental breakfast at JRC The Alaska Club, both downtown, 641 W. Willoughby Ave., and in the Mendenhall Valley, at 2841 Riverside Drive.

Cyclists are scheduled to gather at 7 a.m. at the valley JRC The Alaska Club, the Douglas library and in the Bonnie Brae subdivision on northern Douglas Island for a ride into the downtown area.

Levitt said people who don't regularly commute by bike could see that with a little bit of planning, it can be easy and fun.

"I just really love biking and want to do anything I can to encourage others to get out and ride," she said.

Travis said it keeps him busy.

"Challenges? The weather's a challenge," he said, adding that there are people who meet it by biking in Juneau year-round. "That's why we sell snow studs."

Biking in Juneau is a matter of having the right gear, he said.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.

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