Wednesday, February 3, 2016

FCPS Employee Celebrates 500 Bike to Work Trips

Biking in the COOOOLD
Evie Ifantides works for Fairfax County Public Schools at an office on Waples Mill Rd just north of Route 50. She lives in Fairfax City. Evie started biking to work in 2012 and since then has logged 500 round trips (well, 499.5 the last I heard and given the weather, it may be another day or so before she gets in another ride).

Evie has written a positive, inspirational story about her decision to get to work by bike. She did some riding over the years but it wasn't until a colleague suggested she bike to work that she started riding in earnest.

What I like most about Evie's story is her outlook. She doesn't focus on obstacles or problems she encounters but on all of the positive aspects of riding to work and interacting with her environment and the people she meets along the way. Here's an extract from her story:

Learning to clean my bike
with WABA Women and Bicycl
In March of 2011 I began participation in a cohort leadership program with my employer, Fairfax County Public Schools. In October of 2011, our teacher laid out some prizes/trinkets for answering questions. I must have answered a question correctly and I went up to the table and picked the bike lock as my prize. Not sure why - I did not really need one since I was not biking.

As part of our final project in our cohort, we had to present on a topic that if implemented would create a positive impact in our work environment. In March of 2012 my cohort friend, Richard Michelback, presented his vision about FCPS personnel biking to work. He was inspiring! I had that Specialized bike in the shed but it needed a lot of help. I mentioned Richard’s vision to my dear friend and neighbor, Carolyn, and she said that she had a bike I could use and basically have. A grey Gary Fisher - in a matter of minutes - that bike arrived at my home.

That same week, I was sitting at the Fairfax City Parks and Recreation Advisory Board meeting next to cycle enthusiast, Frank Linton. He was there along with a George Mason student discussing the possibility of a bike route from the Vienna Metro to George Mason University. (I am happy to report that there is a pretty safe bike route that GMU students can now take) The meeting lasted till 10 p.m. and as we were leaving I asked Frank if he was able to map out a couple of possible routes for me to bike to work. He immediately said YES and on Saturday, March 17, at 10:30 a.m. he came to my home and we took one route to my work location, at Fairfax Ridge and another route back to my house. The four mile route takes about thirty minutes.

I also had to find a bike rack at work. Who knew that there was one at the Fairfax Ridge. One of my colleagues and building supervisor, Dianna DiPasquale, helped me find one – in the parking garage. It was behind barbed wire and we got it out and placed in the garage by the steps.

My first ride was going to be that Wednesday, March 21, 2012 … It was cold and very foggy and I decided not to ride. I emailed Richard and Frank and both said that it was smart not to have biked that day. Richard also added that he would be willing to come to my house and bike with me the first time on Thursday. He also asked me if I had any lights - hmmmm I did not. I went to our local bike shop, Oasis Bikes, which unfortunately is no longer there, got the lights and they gave me a 10% discount because I mentioned Frank’s name.

So I got the lights and the next morning at 6:45 am – Richard drove to my house from his home in McLean. He put all the lights on and we started riding. It was still dark and still a little foggy but I felt really good being with Richard at my side. I showed him the way. His project to get FCPS staff to ride to work was becoming a reality one person at a time.

We arrived at the Fairfax Ridge somewhere around 7:25 am and I locked my bike using Deeb’s lock … It was anti-climactic but to me it was a HUGE deal. I thanked Richard, we took the obligatory picture, and I came in to work. Richard rode back to my house and then he was off to work. In May, I met a colleague, Katie Baxter-Gagen at Van Dyck park in Fairfax City and we participated in the bike to work day …

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"...asked Frank if he was able to map out a couple of possible routes for me to bike to work."
This highlights what I have seen in other cases, that one barrier to starting bike commuting is a lack of knowledge about a good route to ride.
Does FABB have bike commute route mapping support they can offer to those interested in starting to bike Commute?
FABB does try to help anyone who writes to us who wants to find a good bike route. On our Cyclists Resources page, which contains many links to online mapping resources, we encourage people to write to us for help. We regularly receive requests for routing help.

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