Pedal pushers

Nearly 100 cyclists refresh at the Johns Hopkins "pit stop" on National Bike to Work Day

"It feels like flying." "I see my city better." "It's fast, clean, green fun." "It's faster than driving through the city."

Those are just some of the reasons that Baltimore bike enthusiasts cite for their two-wheeled passion.

On May 19, nearly 100 of those cyclists stopped by the Armstrong Medical Education Building on the East Baltimore campus to celebrate the benefits of commuting on two wheels as part of National Bike to Work Day. Sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Office of Sustainability and Hopkins LIFE, the Johns Hopkins station was one of 30-plus "pit stops" across Baltimore City and surrounding counties.

"Today is just about the fun of biking," said Olivia Zug, outreach and communications coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, and lead coordinator for the event. "A lot of people come into the world of biking from a practicality standpoint, but then they find a passion for it."

Many employees and students agreed. "I didn't know how to drive until I was 25, so I rode my bike everywhere," said School of Medicine student Naomi Gorfinkle, who still prefers two wheels to get to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. School of Medicine graduate student Nkosi Adejola said that biking to work every day for six years evolved into a hobby. He now has three bikes and volunteers at a bike shop to learn how to fix them on his own.

Clad in everything from scrubs to white jackets to business attire, and sporting Dansko clogs, cycling shoes, and sandals, cyclists at the Johns Hopkins pit stop enjoyed bagels, coffee, a free bike tune-up, and camaraderie with fellow cyclists. The consensus was that nothing beats the convenience factor and time-saving qualities of biking to work or school.

Even riding 9 miles from his home in Rodgers Forge on a 90-degree day was no sweat for Jonathan Herndon, a web specialist at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. "I've always biked," he said. "It's always something I think about when taking a new job: Is it biking distance from my house?"

Support for cyclists is certainly growing at Johns Hopkins. The East Baltimore campus now has 21 bicycle stations, many with multiple bike racks.

"We noticed an increase in the number of people, especially students, biking to and from campus," said Victoria Mark, environmental graphics project manager for Johns Hopkins Health System Facilities, which surveyed the campus to identify high-traffic bike areas. The Weinberg Building, JHH Wolfe Street entrance, and Outpatient Center all have at least two bike racks. Another popular spot is the Meyer Building, which received new racks when construction was completed this spring.

In 2013, the School of Public Health installed Baltimore's first outdoor bicycle repair station, at the corner of Washington and Monument streets, complete with a tire pump, tire levers, and a multi-tool.

Between 2006 and 2015, Baltimore reportedly saw a 50 percent increase in bicycle commuter traffic. Baltimore Bike Share, launched in fall 2016, has 20 stations citywide, with bikes that can be rented for a few dollars at a time. The Maryland Avenue Cycle Track, which welcomed riders in the fall as well, provides cyclists a safer way to get from Johns Hopkins' Homewood campus to the Inner Harbor, via a protected bike lane.