by Phil Hartman, Senior Director - Marketing, ebm-papst Inc.
With this year’s GreenDay theme of reducing and measuring CO2emissions we decided that one way to tackle this would be to leave some cars at home on June 5th. This means carpooling, or getting to work by alternate transport such as cycling or on foot. With enough participants, perhaps we could accumulate enough saved miles to make a dent in gas usage for a day.
For me, cycling to work seemed like a good experiment since I don’t live too far from work. A bike ride sounds easy, but before doing so I realized that a certain amount of thought had to be put into planning my route. The most direct route (Rt 6) I normally take would put me together with cars driving at fairly high speeds in multiple lanes, going around curves, and over a small mountain; the good news is that the town recently painted bike lanes on Rt 6 where previously there were none. On the other hand I could take a more indirect route using smaller back roads, but in many cases with no bike lanes and maybe more chances not to be seen by drivers. In the end I decided to try my luck on the back roads to limit my exposure to high speed traffic and to avoid large intersections with multiple lanes to cross.
I know from running that roads in the area aren’t always user-friendly to pedestrians and cyclists. In some cases the roads either aren’t wide enough to comfortably accommodate a rider and traffic, and/or don’t have designated bike lanes, and/or the painted bike lane area is so tiny that it allows hardly any room for the runner or rider – an afterthought in road design not unlike fans sometimes being treated as an afterthought in system/cooling design! Also there seems to be less control with cycling than with running in traffic. While running, I face traffic and I can see what is coming at me, but with cycling the danger can be behind or perpendicular to you and you may not see danger coming - complicated by higher speeds achieved on a bike. With either method you have to be very alert and try to be as visible as possible to drivers. My bike ride to work opened my eyes even further to how much better roads could be designed if towns really wanted to support cycling. There are Rails-To-Trails paths that go through Farmington which are perfect for cycling, but those paths are limited and were not useable for my commute to work from out of town.
After a very hot weekend, the morning of Green Day had perfect weather for biking to work. While riding to work I noticed so much more detail about neighborhoods and the landscape than I do when driving. As all cyclists and runners know, some drivers are more considerate than others when passing. For my roundtrip, I have to say that most drivers were very accommodating and gave me adequate space when they passed. I arrived to work energized and ready to go, and also enjoyed an invigorating ride home.
The result - I’m glad I ventured out on the bike to test the practicality of this method of transport. I estimate that I saved approximately one gallon of gas, which may not seem like much but it all adds up especially over many people. While cycling to work would not be practical for every day or year round commuting, there is no reason why I can’t find occasional days from spring through fall to ride to work on my bike. It’s just a matter of planning and adjusting my schedule to make this possible, with the added benefit of reducing my carbon footprint. If cycling to work does catch on within the company, we may have to build and install a bicycle rack to accommodate everyone – perhaps a new value added project for our manufacturing department?!
As a group using an alternative method of tranportation, we saved 275.5 miles = 12.8 gallons* of gas. And 0.114 metric tons of CO2
*Based on an average fuel economy of 21.5 mpg, from the US EPA.