Rain or shine, Jeremy Provenzola either bikes or runs to work at Gresham City Hall every day.
The senior engineer adopted his traveling schedule a few years ago as a way to save money and stay healthy. The trip from his home in Southeast Gresham is about seven miles, and the city has both a place to store his bike and a shower so he can freshen up before heading into the office. He is able to travel along local trails, avoiding traffic hassles.
Provenzola uses the time on his Trek road bike, which he bought from a former city employee, to decompress and get fresh air.
"It's hard to fit in fitness with three kids, so by biking to work I don't have to wake up early to be active," he said. "It's a personal goal of mine not to drive a car to work."
And while not everyone may adopt such a rigid cycling schedule, many local biking enthusiasts are hoping others will be inspired to join them on the roads and trails to celebrate bike month.
"The hardest part is doing it for the first time," Provenzola said.
May is National Bike Month, and upcoming events in Gresham are designed to promote cycling as an ideal means of transportation as well as recreation.
The main event during the month-long celebration is a fun challenge that inspires people to dust off their bikes and get out into the community. The Bike More Challenge has teams compete to see who can log the most miles by bicycle. A point system allows for all sorts of businesses and groups to have a fair shot at winning, regardless of their size. The six categories include: staff of 500-plus, 200-499, 50-199, 20-49, 7-19 and 3-6.
It's not just about total miles, but also encouraging new riders to hop on and give cycling a try. Numerous prizes will be given. To prepare for the challenge, register at www.lovetoride.net/oregon?locale=en-US and form a team.
In addition, students from around the city will learn the best routes to take during the Walk + Roll to School Day during Bike Month. Students from many participating schools will learn about the benefits of taking active transportation to school, as well as ways to stay safe during their commute. More information can be found at www.greshamoregon.gov/Transportation-Safety/.
"We want to encourage kids to walk and ride to school," said Jay Higgins, Gresham associate transportation planner.
On Friday, May 17, adults get in on the fun with Bike to Work Day. Anyone riding to work between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. can swing by three stations to receive a free breakfast treat. The spots include Main City Park and the Springwater Corridor Trailhead; Springwater Corridor at the Gresham-Fairview Trail near Southwest Pleasant View Drive; and Northeast Glisan Street near the ON Semiconductor campus entrance.
As pleasant spring weather ramps up around Gresham, John Heili begins to once again bike to his job with the city of Gresham.
It's a long commute for the North Portland resident — 30 miles roundtrip.
His newly purchased eBike helps him pick up the pace, with a maximum speed of about 25 mph, so he only spends about an hour and a half on his bike each day.
When Heili first looked into accepting the city's associate planner position in 2016, he first had to look at bike maps to make sure the commute would work.
"It took some scouting around for the best route," Heili said. "I do it for the fitness, but it's also nice to have your own space to think."
In Gresham, most of the arterial and connector roads have bike lanes to allow cyclists to share the roadway with motor vehicles. There are more than 117 miles throughout the system. But city planners understand that some prefer other options.
"Not everyone feels comfortable using the main roads, so we created this system of backstreet routes," Higgins said.
These routes allow for cyclists to have more room to operate along roads with slower speed limits. While many are already in place, Gresham's Active Transportation Plan has prioritized several routes that can be improved. Those routes connect neighborhoods with destinations like grocery stores, schools and parks.
"There is always room for improvement," Higgins noted.
The trails in Gresham are also a good place to ride, including the three major paths of Springwater Corridor, Gresham-Fairview and Wy'East trails.
"Those trails are great because you are separated from traffic," Higgins said. "You could ride all the way to Portland or Boring."
A visit to the Gresham Area Chamber of Commerce at 1005 N. Main Ave., is a great way to pick up bike maps for the best routes around the community. Gresham City Hall, 1333 N.W. Eastman Parkway, also provides resources for cyclists.
While May is dedicated to celebrating cycling, with an emphasis on getting people to ride their bikes to work, it's also a push for folks to simply enjoy themselves on two wheels.
"There is nothing better than starting your day with a ride," Heili said.
Cycling safety tips
To stay safe while biking, follow these suggestions from the city of Gresham.
- Obey traffic signs and lights
- Use hand signals when turning
- Ride in a straight line — don't weave between parked cars
- Yield to pedestrians
- Ride with traffic
- Only pass stopped cars on the right
- Wear a helmet
- Cross railroad tracks at a right angle
- Be visible with a front light and rear reflector at dusk
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.