Riding in the fast lane

Steamboat company urges employees to bike to work

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Angie Mangiardi doesn't own a bike. She easily could have used that as an excuse not to ride one to work Wednesday, but she didn't.

"I have never commuted to work," she said. "They told us there was no excuse not to do it."

Mangiardi and her borrowed bicycle were part of a campaign by SmartWool employees dedicated to riding their bikes on Wednesday's "Bike to Work Day."

Event organizer and Bicycle Colorado member Lisa Spector said the company had participated in the "Bike to Work Day," which is held the fourth Wednesday in June, before but had not been involved recently.

"We thought it'd be really neat if we could get some people together and get involved in the community," she said.

Spector said nearly 30 of SmartWool's 45 employees left the car keys on their tables Wed--nesday morning and rode their bicycles to work, which included the grueling climb up Elk River Road.

"I was really tired by the time I got up that hill," Mangiardi said. "(The ride) was much faster than I thought it would be."

SmartWool riders began congregating at about 7:30 a.m. at Amante and then picked up more riders near Howelsen Hill, Stock Bridge Transit Center and other locations before the group finally began the climb up Elk River Road.

"I was really pleased with the turnout. ... All in all, we had a pretty good-sized train coming up," Spector said.

Spector said SmartWool would be giving out prizes as an incentive to ride on Wednesday and throughout the week.

SmartWool employee Carol Davidson said though many people ride their bikes in Routt County, not enough make it a habit to ride to work.

"If you just do it one day, it's a novelty, but if you do it for a week, it can be life-changing," she said.

Davidson and Spector hope that more Steamboat Springs companies, bike clubs and governmental agencies will take an interest in Colorado Bike Month and "Bike to Work Day," both held in June.

"I think it's cool we're doing it, but I think it'd be even cooler for other people and groups to get involved," Davidson said.

Bicycle Colorado executive director Dan Grunig said he estimated nearly 100,000 people participated in the "Bike to Work Day" in the Denver area.

"(Bike to Work Day) is certainly growing in the mountain communities," he said. "We're seeing more people in Durango and Winter Park doing it. Crested Butte has more bicycles on the roads than cars. I think there's a real interest, and people understand the value of biking in mountain communities."

Like Davidson, Grunig said it's important to continue riding or taking alternative transportation to work for the environmental, physical and mental benefits.

"The most important thing is the second day," he said. "It's great to ride your bike to work, but you need to do it more than once. If you make it a habit to ride your bike just one time a week, you're helping decrease pollutants in the air, lowering emissions and the amount of cars on the road."


-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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