Bicycle

In this 2013 photo, a bicyclist watches for traffic at East Orange and North Queen streets. (LNP file photo)

 

There are a few regular bike commuters, but trading the car keys for bike saddle is still a difficult choice for most Lancastrians.

County transportation officials say that less than 1 percent of Lancaster County residents regularly bike to work.

As the country celebrates National Bike Month in May, LNP interviewed some regular commuter cyclists to see what inspires them.

Some like the exercise aspect of biking to work. And many smile thinking about the money they’ve saved by not having to buy gas or car insurance.

But nearly all cyclists say some road improvements such as added bike lanes could go a long way in enhancing the cycling experience.

Here is what they had to say.

‘It’s an affordability thing’

On a typical day, Chris Caldwell, a 28-year-old city resident, needs about eight minutes to bike the 2 miles to his job at The Common Wheel, where he is chief wheel spinner.

The nonprofit, which sells refurbished bikes and works to promote biking in the community, is located near the old pump house at Reservoir Park on East King Street.

For Caldwell and his wife, having only one car means a little more financial wiggle room. By Caldwell’s math, owning a car would cost about $8,000 every year.

“That’s money we can use to enjoy the city,” he said. “It’s an affordability thing.”

Since returning to his native Lancaster after being away for a few years, Caldwell said he’s noticed a desire among people in his generation to break from the notion that they have to own a car. “I definitely see more and more people riding.”

Philly taught her well

Cynthia Kilbourn, a 55-year-old physician from Lancaster Township, bikes to work about three times a week. On Friday, after pedaling to work — about a 3-mile ride — Kilbourn said she’d use the day as an occasion to tout the benefits of biking to patients.

Kilbourn grew accustomed to riding on busy streets while living in Philadelphia. Along with its many bike lanes and public racks, the city has a bike-share program, Indego, which it implemented last year. Having such amenities on a smaller scale would help Lancaster improve its reputation among cyclists, she said.

The only bike lanes in Lancaster County were installed more than a decade ago, over the Fruitville Pike bridge, just north of downtown Lancaster.

Lancaster city officials, however, are looking at the possibility of putting a two-way dedicated bike lane on a section of West Chestnut Street.

“If there were designated bike lanes, I think a lot of people would feel much safer,” Kilbourn said.

City has a long way to go

Having lived in the Minneapolis area, Eric Moreland said Lancaster is far behind when it comes to shared-lane markings and dedicated bike lanes.

“There’s a lot more infrastructure built,” Moreland, 28, said of the Midwestern city that’s seen an explosion in the number of bike commuters.

Moreland, a 28-year-old supervisor at Quality Bicycle Products, said he’s gained health and financial benefits from biking to work. It’s about 6 miles round trip from his city home to the East Hempfield Township business.

Moreland said he can get around $60 per month through an incentive program that encourages biking. In addition, the company has on-site showers, locker rooms and inside bicycle parking, Moreland said.

Faster than cars

Robert Lausch, 57, said he bikes about 4 miles round trip each day from his residence near Martin Luther King Elementary School to his job at Franklin & Marshall College.

At Binns Park on Wednesday, Lausch described the sense of satisfaction he feels when he breezes by cars stuck in gridlock during the afternoon rush hour.

And, of course, he doesn’t have to worry about parking costs. “It’s much cheaper riding a bike,” Lausch said with a smile.

‘People think I’m crazy’

Sarah Billings, a 28-year-old city resident, bikes about 2 miles to work almost every day.

Billings, the community school director at Lincoln Middle School, said she’s a bit of an anomaly at her workplace. “People think I’m crazy because I bike to work,” she said.

Like others, Billings would like to see more bike lanes.

She began riding a bike to work last year and has since gained confidence and learned safety techniques from fellow cyclists, including people she’s met through The Common Wheel.

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