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May 10, 2004

School Participates in Bike to Work Day

For the third consecutive year, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health participated in national Bike to Work Day, which was held on Friday, May 7. The day also kicked off Clean Commute Month in the Baltimore region. At the School, the event was coordinated by the Center for a Livable Future, with the help of the Environmental Stewardship Committee.

“One of the biggest things we can do [for the environment] is changing our transportation habits,” said Polly Walker, MD, MPH, associate director of the Center for a Livable Future.

Rows of bicycles occupy parking spaces normally reserved for cars in the School's garage.

Rows of bicycles occupy parking spaces normally reserved for cars in the School's garage.

Four separate convoys of bikers commuted to the East Baltimore campus. One convoy left from Mt. Washington. Another, led by Robert Lawrence, MD, director of the Center for a Livable Future and a year-round bike commuter, left from the corner of University Parkway and Charles Street. Two other groups left from Johns Hopkins at Eastern and Cross Street Market in Federal Hill.

When the bikers arrived, they were served juice donated by the Wolfe Street Café and muffins made by Pam Rhubart, MPH, of the Center.

Tishawn Pierce, administrative secretary at the Center and organizer of the event, said there were more riders than in previous years. “When I talked to people, it seemed like more people were aware of it. They thought it was the first year,” she said.

Pierce estimates that there were 40 riders who rode in the four convoys. In addition, a number of others rode by themselves rather than with the organized groups. A few people decided to run to the School from the Washington Monument in Baltimore’s Mt. Vernon neighborhood, because they didn’t have bikes.

For some riders, the event was old hat. Joseph Abraham, DSc, an assistant scientist in the Department of Epidemiology, said he used to rollerblade to work when he lived in Boston. Since he moved to Baltimore, he has been riding his bike to work every day. Still, Friday’s event was a bit special. “It’s nice to recognize the bikers among us and to see the bikers among us,” Abraham said.

For some of the other riders, Friday’s event could serve as a catalyst for future bike commuting. Janna Howley, a project manager at the Center for a Livable Future, said that when she lived in Washington, D.C., she used to ride her bike to work. Since moving to Baltimore, she hasn’t been riding because she wasn’t familiar or comfortable with the routes. Having a group on Friday helped. “It was just the nudge I needed,” she said, adding: “I really believe in more sustainable forms of transportation. In order to have a livable city and a livable community, people have to be out there. In your car, you don’t really see your community or your surroundings.”

A bike-to-work listserve at the School links riders who want to find partners or to exchange information about safety and other riding issues. People who want to be part of the listserve should email clf@jhsph.edu. --Kristi Birch