Take your bike to work next week

  • Mike Maki of New Ipswich uses his road bike to make the 10-mile commute to his workplace in Wilton. Staff photo by Ashley Saari

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, May 02, 2017 6:35AM

If the weather allows, Mike Maki of New Ipswich would rather make the daily commute to his veterinary practice in Wilton by bike than take the car.

It’s about a ten-mile trip each way, but Maki is an avid biker, and has been since college, when his wife bought him a road bike as a gift. Today, it’s his preferred method of commute. 

“When you start biking regularly, it’s like running regularly,” he said. “If you don’t do it for a few days, you feel off.”

Even now that he is troubled by various aches and pains caused by arthritis, Maki said he has no intention of giving up his daily ride — he even recently purchased a recumbent bicycle which he hopes to continue his commute rides on, as it’s easier on his wrists. 

He’s gotten used to the quiet commute, though he noted that bikers — especially less experienced ones, should take care to pay more attention to the road than the atmosphere. 

“There’s a lot of scenery you just can’t see, because you need to stay focused on the road and what cars ahead of you are doing,” said Maki. And though it’s only required by law for children, Maki advises that every bicyclist should wear a helmet. He does every time he gets on his bike, he said, and fully attributes his helmet to saving his life when he was hit by a car while riding his bike back in the 1990s. 

While that was a sobering experience that has only made him more aware of the road as he rides, said Maki, it was harder for his family and friends to watch him get back on his bike than it was for him to do it. 

While Maki’s bike commute is part of his daily routine, as part of National Bike Month, the Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation and the national League of American Bicyclists are encouraging car commuters to try getting to work under their own power on the week of May 15-19.

There are various benefits to a bike commute, according to the League of American Bicyclists, including the average commuter losing 13 pounds of weight in their first year commuting, fuel savings, and generating more economic activity. 

“It’s great if you have the right situation,” said Maki. “But it’s not for everyone.”

Maki, who owns his own veterinary practice, has access to a shower and changing area, and said he doesn’t work up a significant sweat on his easy 30-minute ride to work in the cool of the early morning — his home commute is more uphill, taking almost 15 minutes longer. 

At the very least, said Maki, most workplaces will have a bathroom you can change in, so if the distance is reasonable, it’s often more achievable than people first think. 

Monadnock Alliance for Sustainable Transportation will hold a Bike to Work Week kickoff event at Railroad Square in Keene on Monday, May 15 from 6 to 10 a.m. Individuals are invited to ride their bike (or walk, carpool, or take the bus) to work that day. Stop by Railroad Square to enjoy free coffee, bagels and other breakfast items, socialize with other alternative transportation advocates, and learn more about bicycling and alternative commuting in the Monadnock Region.  

MAST is partnering with CommuteSmart NH to challenge residents of the Monadnock Region to “commute smart” by carpooling, walking, telecommuting, riding their bike or taking the bus. The Monadnock Commuter Challenge will be a weeklong competition that will take place during Bike to Work Week (May 15 to 19).  Participants log each smart commute using the online trip logger and compete with other individuals to win prizes.  Sign up for the challenge at MAST’s Bike to Work Week Kickoff Event or online at www.commutesmartnh.org.