UNH Prepares for Bike/Walk to Work Week Next Week

UNH Prepares for Bike/Walk to Work Week Next Week

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

UNH employees are pumping up their tires and lacing up their sneakers in preparation for the 11th annual Seacoast Bike/Walk to Work Week next week (May 13 – 17). As in years past, the weeklong celebration of alternative transportation culminates in a free commuter breakfast on the steps of New Hampshire Hall, hosted by the department of kinesiology from 7 – 10am.

 “I always love the camaraderie of this morning, as folks share stories about making their car-free commutes,” says Brent Bell, associate professor of kinesiology and unofficial bicycle commuting ambassador. “We’ll have plenty of bagels and beverages to welcome those who’ve worked up an appetite getting to work.” 

Among those planning a car-free commute during Bike/Walk to Work Week are Matt O’Keefe, campus energy manager, and Marj Foote, a graphic designer in University Communications and Marketing. Both approach their lengthy commutes – O’Keefe’s from Stratham and Foote’s from Kittery – with creativity.  

After a back injury forced him to trade in his road bike, O’Keefe commuted on a mountain-style bike via a bicycle-bus combo, cycling about five miles then riding Wildcat Transit into Durham. But last summer, he hit on a new solution: A battery-assisted bicycle called the Currie Tech eZip Trailz. “I use the bike’s electric assist to cruise into work in the morning without being covered in sweat.  I save the hard ride for the return trip when the battery power is gone,” he says. O’Keefe bikes to work – about 11 miles each way -- several days each week between May through September. 

Foote’s approach is similarly multimodal. With the Memorial Bridge between Kittery and Portsmouth closed until July, she loads her bike on her car, drives to Portsmouth, parks, then bikes to Durham via Pease. Sometimes she’ll hop on Wildcat Transit one way; sometimes she takes the shuttle van across the Piscataqua from Kittery to Portsmouth.  She’ll be making about three one-way trips per week in the next month, but her goal is to commute for a full week, both ways, by bike later this summer. 

Motivated by the opportunity to burn calories while she commutes, Foote admits that she loves everything about bike commuting and biking in general. “You see deer, you hear birds. When you’re riding a bike, you really can channel the 10-year-old within,” she says. 

Foote and O’Keefe are among the UNH employees whose alternate commutes next week can help UNH hang onto top honors in the Corporate Commuter Challenge, which aims to spark friendly competition among Seacoast-area businesses during Bike/Walk to Work Week. To participate, UNH employees should register for the Wildcat team and track commuter miles here: http://www.commutegreen.net/challenge.html.  

Then join Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes, regional coordinator of Bike/Walk to Work Week activities, for a celebration at the Portsmouth Brewery (Friday, May 17 from 6 – 8 pm) with complimentary snacks and raffle prizes. For more information, and to register for the festivities and raffle, go to http://www.seacoastbikes.org/bwwd.cfm.