Pedal power will fuel contest

lpemberton@theolympian.comApril 27, 2013 

Don’t be surprised if you see more cyclists hitting South Sound trails and roadways next week: It’s time for Intercity Transit’s Bicycle Commuter Contest.

The annual event encourages folks to ditch their vehicles and use bicycles for work, school and errands throughout the month of May.

“Owning and operating a car is expensive, for both the Earth and the pocketbook,” said IT interim manager Ann Freeman-Manzanares. “Traveling by bike is virtually free.”

Organizers are hoping for a record turnout this year with gas prices near $4 a gallon, said IT spokeswoman Meg Kester.

“We think we will be up at least to the 1,500 participation mark, and could easily go higher,” she said. “We’re optimistic.”

People can sign up to ride as individuals, or on teams. Throughout the month of May, participants record the number of miles they ride each day to work, school or on errands. Training and recreational time doesn’t count because the contest is about reducing vehicle trips.

During the past seven years, participants have logged in more than 500,000 miles on nearly 85,000 trips, and prevented the release of more than 300 tons of CO2 emissions, according to IT. Last year, about 1,500 riders saved about 120,000 miles of car trips in the contest, Kester said.

Dr. Andy Rosser, owner of Rosser Chiropractic in Olympia, leads a team known as Wheels O’ Thunder.

“Last year, we had 31 team members, and they rode a total of 5,000 miles,” he said.

Rosser said he plans to use his bike for his daily commute and to travel to meetings in the area.

“One of the things I like most about (the contest) is it’s kind of committing every day to be on the bike, whether it’s a small ride, or a bigger ride,” he said. “…I’ve found I always choose a little more scenic route to where I’m going.”

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433

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