By Elana Zeltser
Like many students, Sam Lyons ’13 is ready to leave for school at 7 a.m. Backpack and sports bag in hand, he says good-bye to his parents and walks out the front door. But rather than jumping into a car or school bus, Lyons hops onto his bike, straps his backpack on with a bungee cord, puts his sports bag on his back and begins his three-mile trek to school.
With two parents who need to get to work, Lyons puts the responsibility of getting to school upon himself. Since the second week of school, Lyons has made a 20-30 minute ride to and from campus every day. While exerting that much energy so early in the morning may seem daunting, Lyons enjoys the freedom it gives him.
“I like to be in charge of my schedule. I can choose when I leave home and when I get back,” said Lyons.
In addition, he finds that riding his bicycle can be an energy booster.
While Lyons, a member of the cross country and track and field teams, finds that his “leisurely” morning rides do not give him much exercise, Lyons will often take longer routes and ride full speed on the way home to exert himself and gain strength and endurance. Another perk is that he is “always awake by first period,” Lyons said.
Benjamin Gaylord ’13 has a similar experience. He lives 15 minutes away from school by bike and also just truly enjoys the responsibility of providing himself with transportation.
“If I have more work to do and want to stay late at school then I don’t have to call to get picked up,” Gaylord said.
Gaylord, who is also on track and field, finds the ride a good way to stay in shape, especially since he carries his backpack on his back.
Lyons and Gaylord, however, are not the only people who take alternative vehicles to school. Geology teacher Wendy Van Norden often makes her way to campus on a Segway.
She discovered her love for Segways after participating in a Segway tour in San Diego. While it would only take her less than 10 minutes to get to school by car, Van Norden prefers the 30-minute commute on her vehicle of choice. A Segway not only is more fun for her, but it also uses less energy than a car.
“It only goes about 12 miles per hour. For some strange reason, it is well-timed for the lights, so I almost never have to wait at a stoplight,” Van Norden said.
Another teacher with a unique means of transportation is director of the theater program Chris Moore. About three days a week, Moore jumps onto his Piaggio scooter for the three-quarters-of-a-mile ride between his house and campus.
“From closing the garage door at home to parking in my space by the chapel it takes approximately one minute [and] 15 seconds. Big commute,” Moore said.
He chooses his scooter over a car for many reasons.
“Gas mileage. Less emissions… Last year I probably saved about $700 in gas. It costs about $7 to fill up my scooter, and it will get about 180 miles per tank full whereas my car cost about $60 to fill up,” Moore said.
While there are many advantages to not taking a car, there are also many dangers. Lyons, Gaylord, Van Norden and Moore all agree that there are serious safety concerns when riding to school on two-wheelers. While they all take the necessary precautions, such as always wearing a helmet, “there are careless drivers out there. You always have to be on your toes when you’re riding,” Gaylord said.
“I actually got hit a couple of weeks ago… It was my right of way. The light was green. It said walk and I was technically a pedestrian because I was on my bike on the cross walk. I didn’t see this woman coming down, and she didn’t see me… I was a bit shaken up,” Lyons said.
Van Norden used to ride her bike to school as well, but after a “number of close calls” she decided to use the Segway because it can be ridden on sidewalks. Moore also recognizes the dangers that can come from riding two-wheeled vehicles.
“People don’t look for motorcycles and tend to cut you off. I have been hit twice on scooters — totaling the bikes both times,” Moore said.
They all believe that they are taking measures to ensure their safety, and all enjoy their methods of travel. And tomorrow, as usual, Lyons will jump onto that bike and set the pedals in motion.