UF/IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation Celebrates Bike to Work Week

Each May, hundreds of communities across the United States celebrate National Bike to Work Week, an initiative sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists. The week-long program is part of National Bike Month, established in 1956 to showcase the many benefits of cycling.

According to the League of American Bicyclists, 40% of all trips in the U.S. are less than two miles, a distance that many could easily cycle. From 2000 to 2013, the number of bicycle commuters in the U.S. grew by more than 62 percent.

This National Bike to Work Week is May 13-17, culminating in Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 17. At the University of Florida IFAS School of Forest Resources and Conservation (SFRC), we’re proud to have dozens of faculty, staff, and students who cycle to our facilities across the state on a regular basis. In fact, two faculty members, housed in Newins-Ziegler Hall, have been making the daily commute via bike for over 20 years!

Dr. Tim Martin, professor in tree physiology, started biking for transportation when he was in middle school.

“I started biking out of necessity, but have always enjoyed the fun of it. When we moved to Gainesville in 1997 and started looking for places to live, I drew a circle around the University with a 5 mile radius because I knew I wanted to bike commute,” said Martin.

Martha Monroe wears a reflective vest for added safety while biking.

Dr. Martha Monroe, associate director and professor in environmental education, makes a 12-mile round-trip for her daily commute.

“My route is mostly on the bike path to Paynes Prairie, so it is lovely. I didn’t want the hassle of parking and paying for a permit,” said Monroe.

As many at UF know, the staff parking permit is jokingly referred to as a “hunting license,” since buying a decal doesn’t guarantee you a spot. If you arrive later in the morning or need to leave mid-day and return, you’ll often waste valuable time searching for a parking space.

“At Newins-Ziegler, I can park 20 feet from the front door, in a weather-protected location. If I need to attend a meeting anywhere on campus, I can be there in a matter of minutes without having to worry about parking,” said Martin.

For folks worried about riding in Florida’s weather, bike commuters advise to bring a change of clothing and keep rain gear on hand. Typically the cooler morning temperatures make for a pleasant ride in to work. SFRC also recently installed a shower in Newins-Ziegler Hall to support not only bike commuters, but also students in the Nature of Running course and researchers doing field-work.

Both Monroe and Martin highlighted that cycling gives them the benefit of added exercise and more time in nature. Said Martin: “It’s excellent stress relief after a hard day at work.”

Interested in starting to bike to work? In 2017, UF was awarded silver level status as a “Bicycle Friendly University” by the League of American Bicyclists. The Office of Sustainability offers free resources for UF faculty, staff, and student bike-commuters, which includes assistance planning a route and training to perform basic bike maintenance.