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Biking to work nothing new at Fermi
By Susan Sarkauskas | Daily Herald Staff

Fermilab employees who bike to work head for home Wednesday via the Pine Street entrance at the Batavia facility.


Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 5/16/2008 12:12 AM

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Today is National Bike to Work Day.

Every day is bike to work day for somebody at Fermilab.

About 125 workers have a bike commuter club going. They keep track of their rides and mileage on a Web site started in 2004 "just to see who else was riding every day," said 34-year-old Jamieson Olsen of Batavia.

Some ride every day. Some ride only a few times a year.

Olsen is in the daily ride category, using a road bike in good weather and a mountain bike with studded tires in the winter.

"I started it just to relax," when he lived in Geneva, he said. He figured he could be sitting and steaming in traffic, or he could be enjoying the scenery along the Fox River Trail. And though the electrical engineer's commute is only two miles now, he enjoys the opportunity to cycle home for lunch with his family.

There's one member who rides in from Geneva, clearing the Fox River Trail as he goes with a snow plow on the back of his bike.

The cyclists estimate they save 50.5 cents per mile in transportation costs, using the Internal Revenue Service's 2008 business mileage rate. Olsen estimates so far this year, he's avoided using 18.9 gallons of gas, using a national average of 24.6 miles to the gallon for cars and light trucks.

The laboratory encourages their effort. Sweaty cyclists can take a shower and change clothes in locker rooms in the basement of Wilson Hall. And if their job requires them to visit different parts of the 6,800-acre site, they can use a lab car to get there.

Riders come from as far away as Glen Ellyn, Naperville and St. Charles.

Crossing Kirk Road is the trickiest part of Olsen's commute, as he has to watch out for big trucks that blow through yellow lights.

He's not a nut about riding: If there is a severe storm or it is bitterly cold, he uses his car.

"The winter is particularly hard," Olsen said, noting that road salt destroyed the chain and derailleurs on his bicycle this year with corrosion.

Once he is on the lab grounds, well, "Fermilab is just laced with bike trails," he said.