The Ride, Issue 115
By the end of 2003, Dan Tieger will have commuted to work more than 160 times. "The commute total represents over 72 percent of the days I could have ridden to work," he adds. Combining mileage numbers with his office's three other bike commuters adds up to over 500 commuting days, and a whopping 15,000 miles spent whizzing through sun, wind and rain rather than behind the wheel of an automobile.
"We have the perfect infrastructure for bike commuting which all helps make it easier to ride," said Tieger, 51. Axcelis Technologies in Beverly, MA provides covered racks (in full view of the guard shack!), lockers and showers to employees, thus "making it a joy to ride to work."
This former Boston University grad student has commuted regularly since 1977. "My wife and I moved to the North Shore in '81 and I commuted about 17 miles each way to Middleton about half the time for three seasons a year," he reported. Later living in Seattle, WA, Tieger commuted to the University of Washington along the famed Burke-Gilman Trail, a rail trail that skirts Lake Washington for 27 miles. The family returned to the North Shore in the mid-80s, providing a base for regular 21-mile commutes from Tieger's home in Manchester to his job in Beverly as a beamline scientist.
"I have commuted fanatically for the last five or so years," proclaimed Tieger, "mostly on my cyclocross bike." Appreciating being able to change tires from knobbies to road tires depending on the route and the season, this father of two selects a variety of routes that often include a mixture of dirt trails and paved roads.
Also a cyclocross racer, Tieger serves as Vice President and Advocate General of the Essex County Velo club, which is involved in all forms of cycling advocacy in addition to racing. And ECV is also famed for organizing that Paris-Roubaix of American cyclocross races, the Clif Bar/ECV Cyclo-Cross race held annually in Gloucester, MA.
Tieger's involvement in Massachusetts advocacy is longstanding. He founded the North Shore Bikeways Coalition in 1994 to lobby for the northern Massachusetts section of the East Coast Greenway. In 1995-6, he was Board Member of Massbike, also serving as Advocacy Chair in 1996.
"One of the satisfying moments of my advocacy career was announcing both that then Governor Weld had signed the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Access Bill, and that the MBTA had agreed to allow bicycle passes to be sold at most places that T tickets could be purchased."
Such regular commuting means Tieger can keep tabs on his roads in every season, and winter becomes the hardest one.
"Snow is a big concern," he states. "Because I use a variety of rural and suburban roads, the clearing of shoulders in winter is intermittent at best.
"In general and year-round, having decent shoulders on roads, and maintaining them by regular sweeping or plowing are basic necessities that bike commuters need."
Tieger believes that local public transportation authorities need to make a greater effort to get people out of their cars, whether by providing bike lockers at the stations or better access for bikes on the subways and trains. Once more people see the light and leave the car at home, they may be able to experience this advocate's idea of an ideal commute: "Mid-July when you don't need more than a jersey and shorts and you fly home on the road bike, knowing the Tour will be on TV that night."
Sometimes merely riding his bike makes a statement, Tieger said.
"In this state especially, which ranks last in accessing monies for Enhancements, the simple act of riding my bike to work is about the most effective form of advocacy that I can think of."
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Planet Bike honors the silent hero of the Revolution: the bicycle commuter. A supercommuter rides through every season, in all types of weather, day and night. Choosing the simplicity, health and pleasure of bicycling, a supercommuter isn't necessarily against automobiles. They simply prefer to ride a bike to the grocery store, to work, to a concert or the cafe.
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