April 28, 2016
Take to foot, pedal during Bike/Walk to Work Week
Maria Mucaria said people don’t necessarily have to drive a car to get to work.
The Cortland woman walks five minutes to her office every day.
“I think it’s important that people know there are alternative ways to get places,” she said.
People can walk. They can ride a bicycle. They can even take a bus, she said.
Mucaria, a program assistant at Access to Independence, will participate in this year’s Bike/Walk to Work Week, where people are encouraged to move their bodies to get to their jobs.
“Biking and walking is a healthier opportunity. It helps your body feel better. If you are able to walk to work, it’s positive,” she said.
Bike/Walk to Work Week will take place in Cortland May 14 to 20. The free initiative, organized by Seven Valleys Health Coalition and the county Health Department, allows people a chance to win prizes and a chance at a Fitbit fitness tracker for logging results on the SVHC website.
People can sign up at www.way2goCortland.org. The event culminates with a free pizza party May 25 at the Beard Building, 9 Main St., Cortland, where prizes will be handed out.
“The goal is twofold,” said Ann Hotchkin, mobility management coordinator at SVHC. “One is to lessen the dependence on automotive transportation, which most of us use, while at the same time getting exercise alone or with co-workers.”
The health organization wants to reduce fuel emissions and at the same time encourage walking.
A NASA analysis found that motor vehicles are the greatest contributor to atmospheric warming because they release pollutants and greenhouse gases that promote warming, while emitting few aerosols that counteract it, according to the 2010 “Road Transportation Emerges as Key Driver of Warming.”
“There’s an environmental aspect to it,” said Hotchkin.
And health-wise, a San Francisco Bay Area study found that increasing biking and walking from four to 24 minutes a day on average would reduce cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 14 percent and decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 14 percent, according to a 2012 report by Maizlish, N., et. al, “Health Cobenefits and Transportation-Related Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the San Francisco Bay Area.”
“It coincides with National Bike/Walk to Work Week also,” she said.
The initiative is open to anyone who works.
A separate Bikeology workshop for adults and children 14 and older will kick off the event. The workshop will take place at 10 a.m. May 14 at the County Office Building, 60 Central Ave., Cortland.
Tirzah Tucci, a public health educator with the county Health Department, will lead a session on the ABCs of a safe bicycle and set people up with free bike helmets. This reporter, a bike commuter for several years, will lead a short ride through the city for people who want to feel comfortable on the road.
“We’re giving people the motivation to get out there and try biking or walking to work. So many people seem too overwhelmed with their schedule,” said Tucci.
As a mother who has to drop off children to school and childcare, she started analyzing her situation to see how she could make it work. “I could probably figure it out,” she said.
Dan Dineen, director of the county Planning Department, participated last year and plans to do so again this year, walking a mile and a half to get to work.
“I run all the time. Walking a mile and a half is not a big deal,” he said.
It takes him 20 minutes and the walk is very relaxing, he said. “It certainly gives you time to clear your head.”
Going home, he could leave work at 4:30 or 6 p.m. And that was harder because he wanted to get home more quickly.
Anyone who logs four bike rides or walks to work is eligible for a prize. And there are certificates for small, medium and large companies that get the most participation.
Hotchkin lives in Cortlandville and would be “hung out to dry” if she didn’t participate, she laughed.
That means she will be meeting her co-workers at the P&C Fresh Plaza for a walk to work at the Kennedy Parkway office.
She encourages long-distance commuters to follow suit.
Mucaria recommends coming up with a route while taking into account any construction.
“You have to plan your day a little better to have the extra time to get back and forth to work, as opposed to jumping into a car, which is much quicker,” Dineen said.
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