The CSU Atmospheric Cyclists, a team composed of Department of Atmospheric Science and Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) members, won this year’s Bike to Work Challenge, sponsored by the City of Loveland. The challenge was open to all workplaces along the Front Range and included teams in Colorado Springs.
“The CSU Atmospheric Cyclists led from the start and never let up,” said challenge founder David Droege. “They had terrific participation and just kept the pedals spinning through the entire eight weeks.”
Droege, a systems engineer at Keysight Technologies, founded the informal competition between Colorado companies in 2017 to encourage more people to bike to work. This year’s competition, which ran from April 30 until Bike to Work Day on June 27, involved 197 participants who commuted a total of 35,124 miles, nearly doubling last year’s number of participants and more than doubling last year’s total mileage.
“That distance is equal to 1.4 times around the circumference of Earth,” said Droege.
The team of 41 Atmospheric Cyclists, organized by CIRA researcher Kyle Hilburn, logged 7,367 miles and 809 commute days, which was estimated to have saved 295 gallons of gas. Atmospheric scientist Paul DeMott logged the most miles for the team with 510. Annette Foster rode the longest commute at 24.5 miles round-trip, and Hilburn had the most overall rides on the team, 40.
“The Atmospheric Cyclists team was full of enthusiasm and always looking to encourage more people to give bike commuting a try,” said Hilburn, the team captain. “It was the amazing level of participation that helped our team win the competition.”
The scoring system was designed to reward the team with the biggest impact relative to its size. Participants were issued points based on their commute distance and riding frequency, and a normalizing function was used to level the point generation among sites of different sizes.
Riders also were awarded points for filling out surveys to gather information for community leaders to use when prioritizing and allocating transportation infrastructure funding. Through the surveys and friendly competition, Droege and the City of Loveland are looking to the future, aiming to improve conditions for bike commuters and increase the competition by increasing the number of bike commuters.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if there is anyone out there that can beat [the CSU Atmospheric Cyclists] next year!” Droege said.
Droege; Katie Guthrie, principal city planner for Loveland’s Public Works Department; and Shelley Aschenbrenner, project manager for Loveland’s Public Works Department, presented the team with the traveling trophy Aug. 8. The City of Loveland sponsors the trophy and its updates. Guthrie and her Loveland Bike Month team also support and advertise the challenge.
“For me the most satisfying experience was coming into work seeing the bike racks around Atmos completely loaded full of bikes, like a scene out of Amsterdam,” Hilburn said.
Droege was thrilled with the increased participation this year, particularly by the 45 percent of registrants who were either new to bike commuting or were getting back into it after a hiatus.
Hilburn himself has returned to biking following a long break. When Hilburn started biking to work in spring 2017, he hadn’t been on a bike in about 20 years. After a couple of months, he was hooked.
“Why drive a car when you can have way more fun taking a bike?”
CSU Atmospheric Cyclists:
Kyle Hilburn, Rob Nelson, Andrea Jenney, Ezra Levin, Yann Blanchard, Russell Perkins, Tommy Taylor, Leah Grant, Peter Marinescu, Jaime Joseph, Wesley Berg, Chris Kummerow, Paul Ciesielski, Wayne Schubert, Anna Hodshire, Emily Fischer, Nichols Geyer, Bryn Ronalds, Steven Brey, Stacey Kawecki, John Knaff, Will Lassman, Jakob Lindaas, Michael Natoli, Jennie Bukowski, Kyle Chudler, Zitely Tzompa, Paul DeMott, Mark Branson, Kelley Branson, Marie McGraw, Rick Schulte, Jared Brewer, Jun Uetake, Ya-Chien Feng, Eric Maloney, Joe Messina, Phil Partain, Ryan Gonzalez, Annette Foster, Samantha Gillette