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Vol. LIX, No. 4
February 23, 2007
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‘Polar Bears’ Brave Cold, Can Now Earn ‘Bike Bucks’

Dr. Isabel Garcia
Aliza Krichevsky, a reporter for the University of Maryland Capital News Service who produced a story featuring the NIH Bike Bucks program, interviews Dr. Daniel Hommer, chief of NIAAA’s brain electrophysiology and imaging section.
Adam Thomas of NIMH commutes to work. Top: Participants in the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club’s polar bear event include (from l) Ehud Goldin (NHGRI), Revell Phillips (NIGMS), Angela Atwood-Moore (NICHD), Marc Gwadz (NLM), Lisa Vasquez (NCI) and Pavel Butylin (NICHD). Morning temperatures dipped near the zero mark that day, but cyclists rode to work to emphasize their dedication to alternative means of commuting.

Middle: Aliza Krichevsky, a reporter for the University of Maryland Capital News Service who produced a story featuring the NIH Bike Bucks program, interviews Dr. Daniel Hommer, chief of NIAAA’s brain electrophysiology and imaging section.

Bottom: Adam Thomas of NIMH commutes to work.

On Jan. 26—a day when morning temperatures dipped near zero—17 NIH’ers donned warm gear and participated in the NIH Bicycle Commuter Club’s Polar Bear event to emphasize their dedication to bike commuting. The club also has adopted a new incentive to attract more bike commuters—the chance to earn “bike bucks.”

Participants in the Jan. 26 event warmed up and shared stories at a donut-and-coffee reception sponsored by the club in front of the Natcher Bldg. between 7 and 9:30 a.m.

NCI’s Dave Becker, who rode a one-way trip of 16 miles, won the prize for longest commute. He stopped on the main campus for some fuel before completing the last leg of his journey, traveling on to his office at Executive Blvd. His trip usually takes about 75 minutes. Distances traveled by bike commuters at the event ranged from a 3-mile daily round trip to Becker’s 32-mile circuit. The average daily round-trip distance traveled by attendees was 12.2 miles.

NIHBCC members have a new reason to know how many miles they ride to and from work. In January the club launched its pilot Bike Bucks program, which rewards bicyclists for the miles they travel on their bikes instead of in motorized vehicles. Just as those who take advantage of the federal Transhare program get subsidized commutes, bike commuters now have a fresh incentive to pedal.

Modeled on community service rewards programs in Ithaca, N.Y., and Philadelphia, the NIH Bike Bucks program requires participants to register the distance between their home and workplace and keep a log of the miles they amass commuting. Participants earn 5 bike bucks for every 100 miles of bike commuting and may spend their bucks at Proteus Bicycles and the NIH Fitness Center.

NIHBCC is currently seeking recognition and spending agreements with other NIH vendors to begin when the pilot program concludes in the spring.—

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