Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Working Out During the Commute Hour

Sometimes, Jerri-Ann Meyer is so busy that the only way for her to exercise is to turn her workday commute into a workout.

Jerri-Ann, the captain of my Bike Challenge team, rides 20 miles every day from her home in Mountain View to her office in Menlo Park and back again.

To complete her commute, Jerri-Ann follows the Ellen Fletcher Bike Boulevard along Bryant Street in Palo Alto. The street is blocked off to only allow bicycles through in some places so that cars don’t drive the entire length of the route.

“It reduces auto traffic and makes it more friendly to bikes,” Jerri-Ann says.

A route such as this can help local commuters realize that riding a bike can be a pleasant experience and less stressful than driving a car.

“People think of the freeway experience in a car as a commute,” she says. “But on a bike, there are safe and comfortable routes that make it a good experience.”

The Bike Boulevard also helps turn biking into a social activity, she says.

“A lot of times, I will strike up conversations and talk to everyone about where they’re riding,” she says. “It’s like a little community.”

During the past six years that Jerri-Ann has been commuting, she has gotten more involved in promoting bicycling as an everyday mode of transportation.

As a member of Silicon Valley Bike Coalition’s Board of Directors, she has worked to improve the safety of bicyclists on the road. On Bike to Work Day a couple weeks ago, she inflated tires, tuned-up bikes, and encouraged bicyclists at the downtown Mountain View Energizer Station.

For five years, Jerri-Ann has served on the City of Mountain View’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The committee recently released a new map of bike routes in Mountain View, and Jerri-Ann and her fellow committee members are currently working to update the city’s bicycle transportation plan.

Jerri-Ann has even taken her love of bicycling to the small screen. With other bicycle advocates from the Peninsula and South Bay, she appeared in a 30-minute television program titled “Try Bicycling!” to show how easy it is for local commuters to find quick, safe bike routes in their neighborhood.

“Silicon Valley is pretty flat and the distance from home to work is usually not far,” she says. “A lot of times, people can travel just as fast or faster than in a car.”

Jerri-Ann says one of the big rewards of biking to work is reducing stress.

“When I was sick in January, I had to drive, and it’s so stressful being in a car,” she says. “I couldn’t wait to get back on my bike, because it’s such a pleasant ride.”