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    going the distance

    August 24, 2011 Posted by: Tech CU

    “I thought of that while riding my bike.” – Albert Einstein on the Theory of Relativity

    My husband commutes over an hour each way driving to and from work on a daily basis. He has recently said (repeatedly) that after four years of doing this, he has “hit a wall” when it comes to the amount of time he spends in the car. Taking the train would only be more time consuming logistically, and with the high cost of housing in the area, moving is not an easy option. Part of this is simply the burden of living in a high-stress, very competitive environment where no one ever stops working and the traffic never ends.

    Perhaps as a way to de-stress and “enjoy the ride,” many Silicon Valley residents have begun biking to work — with this trend on the rise according to recent statistics. While only 1% of commuters were biking to work in 2000, this number doubled to over 2% by 2008. And, in such cities as Palo Alto, as much as 5% of the workforce bikes to work.

    A co-worker of mine, Danny Williams, a web marketing manager, does what could be called a “hybrid” commute. Living too far away to only cycle, he takes the train and then rides his bike to and from the train station. Sure, it takes some planning – he brings a change of clothing to work and has to figure the biking into his schedule, but it also incorporates a good workout into a necessary slog. Says Williams about his daily ride, "It creates a real sense of camaraderie -- I have met tons of people in the area because of my biking."

    Why the upswing in this mode of transportation? Well, with gas prices in California verging on some of the highest in the US, part of this craze could simply be choosing not to pay a small fortune for a week’s worth of gas. Another reason is possibly California’s general fascination with exercise and staying in shape (of course, you don’t see this same increase in Florida, another sunny location where residents spend much of the year outside). Silicon Valley, with its nearly year-round made-for-biking weather is a place where the many youth-driven technologies encourage those who are getting older (all of us) to keep in shape and on trend. Many tech companies actually encourage their employees to commute via bike and, being in a peloton (group of bicycle riders), is the ultimate insider status for those in the “know.”

    Of course, not all the news on biking is rosy. Although California has been aggressive in its creation of bike lanes, accidents between bikes and cars do happen and can be severe. There’s also the possibility of flipping over your handlebars when hitting a pothole. So, stay safe, be aware, always wear your helmet and try to enjoy the ride.
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