Labs promote pedal power on Bike to Work Day

Bike to Work (Download Image) Nearly 160 LLNL and Sandia employees visited the 'energizer station' on Bike to Work Day. Photo by Carrie Martin/LLNL

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Sandia/California employees participated in the 23rd annual Bike to Work Day, commuting to work via pedal power.

Bike to Work Day is a way of promoting the benefits of bicycling and supporting safe roads for bicyclists and motorists. For the second year in a row, the Laboratory sponsored an "energizer station," set up next to the bus stop at Vasco Road and East Avenue.

This year, coordinators counted 230 bicyclists entering the gate between the two Labs from 7-9 a.m. with 158 stopping to check in and register their commute mileage. Riders rolling in were offered bagels, fruit, water and coffee. The first 50 were given Bike to Work Day tote bags filled with gifts provided by Bike East Bay, who coordinated more than 140 energizer stations around the East Bay out of the 400 throughout the Bay Area.

Bike to Work

Colin Yamaoka chaired the event committee supported by Sandia, Livermore Laboratory Employee Services Association and Working Well programs, led by Phil Arzino. The City of Livermore, Bike East Bay and Wheels bus service again partnered with the Labs to support Bike to Work Day activities, manning informational booths complete with raffle drawings and giveaway items.

According to the list of those who signed in at the energizer station, round-trip commute distances ranged from just one or two miles to 70 miles, with six riders reporting commutes of 30 miles or more.

Matt Scott of LLNL had the longest commute from Alameda, 36 miles each way, taking him just about two hours. "Bike to Work Day was great this year," Scott said. "With two kids now, I don’t get the chance to do it very often, but still try to do it a few times per year when possible. Riding to work (or any exercise) is just a great way to start the day in my opinion. It was fun to see so many other riders on the road, if only for a day!"

"Combining my commute and workout lets me spend more time with my family while staying healthy," said LLNL’s Mark Garcia. Four out of five days per week, Garcia rides his bike five miles to the ACE train station in Manteca, gets off at Vasco Road and rides the remaining two miles to the Lab. At the end of the day, he rides 35-45 miles back to Manteca. "On Bike to Work Day, my total round trip was 52 miles," Garcia said. "I enjoy being outdoors."

While many employees choose to bicycle to work on a regular basis, many, like LLNL’s Anita Gursahani, tried it for the first time, riding 32 miles round trip from San Ramon. "I decided to participate because a few of my co-workers were doing it and their support and enthusiasm convinced me," Gursahani said. "I really enjoyed seeing my commute from a different perspective. The ride in was on backroads and the Iron Horse Trail. It gave me a much better appreciation of the trail system and how easy it is to bike across the Tri-Valley area." Because it was such a positive experience, Gursahani now hopes to bike into work a few times a month during the summer.

Bike to Work

Kate Hunts, a public information officer at LLNL, documented her three-mile commute to work via GoPro, showing what you can expect to see while commuting on bicycle through Livermore. She posted a time-lapse version of the video to the Lab’s social media accounts. See her ride on Facebook.

"This year’s event was once again a great success thanks to a team effort across LLNL, Sandia and community organizations," Yamaoka said. "Each year, we hope to get more employees to participate and offer more incentives. It is a great feeling knowing that by participating we are not only helping the environment but also encouraging active lifestyles."

According to the Bay Area Bike to Work Day website, more than 62,000 Bay Area residents use a bicycle as their primary transportation to work, and the number appears to be increasing. A San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency survey showed that between 2014 and 2015, bike commuting increased by 8.5 percent in the region.