Bike Commuting Is Easy, Even in Winter

Local workshop helps transition casual or non-bikers to commuting

Casey Collins, seen here riding with his daughter, Beatrice Kate, is an avid bicyclist and rides to work nearly every day. He's leading a workshop on bike commuting this weekend. Photo courtesy of Casey Collins.

Rain or shine, snow or sleet, Casey Collins peddles his way to work. Well, most of the time, at least.

"I wouldn't ride my bike to work in an ice storm, but that's about it," said Collins, an energy engineer with Facilities Management. "Winter is actually the best time for me to ride because I'm not getting sweaty and don't have to bring a change of clothes."

That's just one of the benefits of commuting by bike Collins plans to discuss Saturday, Dec. 15, as part of the workshop "Bike Commuting in the Winter - Not Just for the Hardcore." Collins, along with other experienced local bike commuters, will offer tips on gear, safety, maintenance and more to help non-bikers or casual bikers make the jump to getting to work on two wheels instead of four. The workshop is free and runs 3 to 4:15 p.m. at the Durham Bike Coop at 715 S. Washington St.

"Biking to work is actually easier, and in most cases, faster for me to get to work," said Collins, who commutes from Durham's Watts-Hillandale neighborhood to Smith Warehouse each day. "The way Duke is laid out, it's actually better for bikers and pedestrians to get around. Plus I can pull right up to a door, park my bike and get to my office or a meeting."

Collins said that during Saturday's workshop he'll discuss easy tips and tricks on winter biking, including best maintenance practices and essential winter biking gear like fenders to carry bags and a headlight since darkness falls sooner.

Along with Collins, nearly 700 other Duke community members are registered as full-time or part-time bicycle commuters. It's a number that's grown drastically in the last two years, almost doubling from 377 registered commuters on Jan. 1, 2011.

"Bike commuting has grown so much because employees and students living near campus realize they can park their bike right outside the front door of their building, or they could drive and park far away," said Brian Williams, Duke's transportation demand management coordinator. "Because biking is faster and easier, and free, it's become a no-brainer for so many."

More information about the winter bike commuting workshop can be found on the event's Facebook page. Following the workshop, attendees are invited to a slow, social bike ride around downtown Durham neighborhoods to see residents' home light displays.