Commuting by bike is a form of transportation that is healthy, affordable, eco-friendly, and accessible. Every morning, it’s typical to see rows of bikes locked in near the picnic tables. These bikes usually belong to Uni students and faculty who brave various weather conditions and traffic flows to get to school.
Librarian Paul Kotheimer has biked to work as long as he has worked at the U of I — namely, over 20 years.
“Ever since I’ve worked here at Uni, that’s my routine. I’ve always biked to work, I never pay for parking,” said Kotheimer.
He cites the University’s sky-high parking fees, which can rack up to $20 a week, as a main reason for biking to school. Instead of paying money for parking, he’d rather pay them at the taco truck. For Kotheimer, who also lives in close proximity to campus, biking is the most efficient method of transportation. Taking the bus would require him to wake up ten minutes earlier and walk three blocks to the bus stop. Biking to the bus stop, racking the bike, then taking the bus only to unrack the bike constitutes extra hassle for him. He considers biking as easy to start and maintain, but hard to return to after a hiatus. In extreme weathers, he will take the car.
Kotheimer believes biking is not for everyone at Uni, citing not only the various locations that Uni students come from, but also a number of traffic-congested streets on campus that make it difficult for some bikers to find a safe route.
Junior Harmen Alleyne has been biking to school ever since he came to Uni. Alleyne says that given his “not too far, not too close” distance between Uni and his residence, driving would be unnecessary, and walking would be too slow. He also cites the lack of bus stops near his house.
His parents, who also bike, think of biking as an easier way for him to commute to school. Not only is it environmentally friendly, but it also gives Alleyne the energy boost he needs to start the day awake.
Biking has helped him establish a routine in life, where he wakes up at a specific time and gets to school early.
“I wake up at 7, and I have to be out of the house by 7:30 or the traffic will get too intense for me to bike… I’ll also be able to get to school at 7:45 and I like that extra ten minutes before classes start.”
Like Kotheimer, his biking is occasionally impeded by weather. During sudden rainstorms, Alleyne has to bike to school and home through the weather, which is unenjoyable. However, in cases when weather circumstances can be predicted, his parents will arrange for him to be picked up and dropped off.
For those interested in biking to school, Kotheimer suggests to join one of the University’s various bike clubs, which are composed of bikers of various ages.
Alleyne says the first step is to establish a safe route to and from school. He also recommends students to make sure they can carry their school supplies, whether it is through a rack or basket. Especially for those with heavy instruments. Alleyne recalls that he had two tubas — one at home and one at school, so that he didn’t have to bike to school with a giant metal case on his back.