Peter Thorne, professor and head of the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health in the University of Iowa College of Public Health, is a cycling enthusiast.
“When I was a kid, I loved the independence of biking wherever and whenever I had someplace to go,” says Thorne, who is also the director of the UI’s Environmental Health Sciences Research Center. “I did not have the patience to wait for a bus. I usually biked to school with books and a trumpet in my backpack. I still enjoy being able to get where I am going fast and without hassle.”
Thorne encourages biking, he says, because life is complicated, but biking is simple.
“Don’t like traffic and parking and buying gas? Ride a bike. Stay fit, help the planet, reduce your carbon footprint. Active commuting is a good way to arrive at work energized and ready for the day,” he says. “A few tweaks to your wardrobe and you can extend the season and cycle most days of the year. You’ll have money in your pocket that otherwise would have been spent on fossil fuel and car repairs. Then on the weekends, you will be ready for longer rides with friends in the Iowa countryside.”
Thorne recently celebrated two fellow bicycling enthusiasts, Ryan Carnahan and Ruxton Smith, as Wellness Heroes for their dedication to cycling to work at the College of Public Health every day throughout the year.
“I ride my bike to work year-round for health and happiness. It energizes me in the morning and helps me reset at the end of the day,” says Carnahan, associate professor and director of graduate studies. “For me, it is a cherished opportunity to get some exercise that can be hard to fit into a busy life. I also feel more connected to the environment and changing seasons. A bike ride in the rain or on a cold winter day can really make you feel alive.”
“It is fun to ride a bike and see the environment—especially when compared to sitting in a box that is stuck behind other boxes,” says Smith, an IT support consultant in the college. “Too much traffic is not much of an issue on a bike; generally, no one is going too slow in front of me. I can optimize my route to reduce effort rather than shorten the distance. And, I get sufficient exercise without having to plan to exercise.”
Thorne has offers these tips for biking to work:
- If you don’t have a decent bike, go to the Iowa City Bike Library or a local bike shop and get a trusty bike that is not too heavy and is fun to ride.
- If you have a decent bike, get a tune up.
- Get a helmet and a good cycling jacket in “visibility yellow.” (Both can be found in the Wellness Store on My Health and Wellness.) Make sure the jacket is breathable and will repel rain.
“When you bike every day, it becomes second nature,” Thorne says. “As the cold months set in, just add another layer. Before too long, you might find that your car is not getting much use.”