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NIEHS Bike-to-Work Day

By Jerry Phelps
June 2008

As a cycling fanatic, I am especially proud of my eight NIEHS co-workers who also gave up their cars for the day and rode bikes to and from NIEHS May 8 in celebration of Bike Month, which is organized annually by the League of American Cyclists. It was the first of several Bike-to-Work events held throughout May that included a friendly competition among cyclists at NIEHS, the Environmental Protection Agency and RTI.

The NIEHS Bike-to-Work Day group met at the American Tobacco Trail at the intersection of Fayetteville Road and Highway 54. Chip Hughes rode the TTA bus from his home in Meadowmont to the trail while the rest cycled to the meeting place-nine very low carbon footprint commutes. Lightly used early in the morning, we had the trail to ourselves except for the chirping birds, scurrying squirrels, and a few early morning exercisers. We were treated to the smell of honeysuckle in bloom-something most car commuters never experience.

Soon we were pulled away from our arboreal bliss as we turned into the bike lane on Martin Luther King Blvd. However, traffic was light and the motorists were courteous. We continued east on Cornwallis Road after a cut through Cornwallis Village to bypass Highway 55. The crew continued on Cornwallis and turned south on the jogging/biking trail running alongside Alexander Drive. The group stopped for breakfast at the East Campus facility, ending the six-mile trek for five of the group members. After strawberries and pastries contributed by some of the riders and our personal support crew, Beth Anderson, the "Rall Riders" finished their final leg of the trip with another two miles on the trail.

The trip home was threatened by storms. Some exercised flexible work schedules to dodge the rain while four of us enjoyed the return trip together although the humidity and temperature had both increased noticeably. Everyone arrived safely home. Several riders expressed an interest in opting for this method of transport as part of their regular commuting regime (especially if breakfast is always waiting for them), making my organizing efforts all the more worthwhile.

(Jerry Phelps is a program analyst in the Program Analysis Branch of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. Each month, he contributes summaries of extramural papers to the Environmental Factor.)

The tree-lined section of the Trail leading to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is an old railroad spur that has been paved with a six-foot lane of asphalt and is a haven for joggers, dog walkers, in-line skaters and cyclists.
The tree-lined section of the Trail leading to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is an old railroad spur that has been paved with a six-foot lane of asphalt and is a haven for joggers, dog walkers, in-line skaters and cyclists.(Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
As the group crossed Highway 55, Matt Edin suffered a flat tire after rolling through a pot-hole, but he had everything he needed to make the five-minute repair and return to the ride.
As the group crossed Highway 55, Matt Edin suffered a flat tire after rolling through a pot-hole, but he had everything he needed to make the five-minute repair and return to the ride. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
The motley group attracted a few fans along the way, including an amused Patrick McCaw, who watched from his dad's car.
The motley group attracted a few fans along the way, including an amused Patrick McCaw, who watched from his dad's car. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Back on the trail, Chip Hughes was already enjoying the sweet taste of success as he flashed the victory sign.
Back on the trail, Chip Hughes was already enjoying the sweet taste of success as he flashed the victory sign. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
A playful Heather Henry couldn't resist showing off for the camera with a triumphant
A playful Heather Henry couldn't resist showing off for the camera with a triumphant "Look, Mom, no hands!" demonstration of balance and devil-may-care bravado. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)
Most of the Bike-to-Work Day crew gathered for a photo after they reached East Campus. Shown, left to right standing, are Nick Staffa, Ted Outwater, Jerry Phelps, Terry Blankenship-Paris, Matt Edin, Christie Drew and, seated, Chip Hughes and Heather Henry. The ninth member, Min Shi, was not able to be in the photo.
Most of the Bike-to-Work Day crew gathered for a photo after they reached East Campus. Shown, left to right standing, are Nick Staffa, Ted Outwater, Jerry Phelps, Terry Blankenship-Paris, Matt Edin, Christie Drew and, seated, Chip Hughes and Heather Henry. The ninth member, Min Shi, was not able to be in the photo. (Photo courtesy of Steve McCaw)


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