FAIRBANKS - Joanna Roth does it to "blow out the cobwebs" in the morning. Tim Cater does it because he's cheap. Rick Johnson does it for the exercise. Amy Turner does it for all the above.
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Granted, all four employees at Alaska Biological Research Inc. in Fairbanks avoid using petroleum products whenever they can and would be classified as bona fide greenies, or as Cater referred to it "save the world and all that stuff." But that's not necessarily the only reason they ride their bikes to work on a regular, and for some, daily, basis.
"It's a combination of things," said the 50-year-old Roth, a plant biologist who has been commuting to work on her bike year-round for almost 20 years.
Mostly, it's because Roth enjoys cycling.
"I just love being on a bike," she said. "Riding a bicycle is the most efficient way to get around."
The fact that she's making the world a better place, or at least not making it any worse, also factors in her decision to ride to work whenever she can.
"It's nice not to have to use gas," she acknowledged. "I really like being able to get to work in a way that doesn't consume hydrocarbons."
Roth, who rides every day unless there's a reason she has to drive or the temperature is 50 below zero or colder in the winter, also said the 19-mile ride to work puts her in a good frame of mind to start the day.
"When I have to drive into work I come in kind of foggy," she said.
"When I ride to work it clears my head and blows away the cobwebs. I start thinking about what I'm going to do that day and how I'm going to accomplish it."
In fact, if you work at ABR Inc., it pays to ride your bike to work.
The environmentally conscious company reimburses employees who bike to and from work - or use other forms of alternative transportation - $3.50 a day.
But that's not why Roth and her cohorts do it.
"I enjoy doing it and would do it anyway, even if it didn't save any gas," said Johnson, a 53-year-old biologist who tries to ride to work at least once or twice a week in the summer and winter. "I like being outside and sometimes it's the only time I get to be outdoors during the day."
The company kickback is nice, though, because it allows Johnson to justify spending more money on his bikes, he said.
Turner refers to herself as "one of the crazy people." The 31-year-old assistant accountant at ABR Inc. commutes 15 miles a day, summer and winter.
"I do it for relaxation, I do it for exercise and I do it because I share a vehicle with my partner," said Turner. "It works better for us if I can provide my own transportation during the week."
Cater, a botanist, lives only two miles from the office and rides or walks to work three or four days a week in the summer but admits it's for selfish reasons more than environmental ones.
"So I don't have to buy another car," he said when asked why he bikes to work. "We've only got one car and my wife does most of the driving."
While the Bureau of Land Management doesn't reward employees for riding their bikes to work, Craig McCaa tries to make the 9-mile commute from his house to BLM two or three times a week. The office has locker rooms and showers, which makes commuting less of a hassle, said the 43-year-old public affairs specialist.
"It's a nice little chunk of down time and a way of getting some exercise," said McCaa. "You feel like little more involved with what's going on than sitting in your car."
Fred Raymond bikes to his cross-country ski shop, Raven Cross Country, four or five days a week. It's about a 12-mile trip one way.
Some days Raymond rides one way and some days he goes both. Raymond refers to his commute as "training with alternative purposes.
"It's a great way to combine two things at once, getting in shape and being outside," said Raymond.
He usually rides a mountain bike so he can ride on dirt trails and roads to avoid traffic, which is about the only drawback Raymond sees in commuting.
"There are an awful lot of aggressive drivers around," he said. "I stay off the busiest roads."
For the most part, though, Roth said Fairbanks isn't a bad place for bike commuting.
"The nice thing about Fairbanks is that there's relatively little traffic," she said. "Overall, I think most motorists are pretty considerate."
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