Saint Rose students turn to bikes for travel and recreation

The difficulty of students to find parking spots on The College of Saint Rose campus is a perennial topic of discussion. This year, for the first time, students are facing a new challenge - finding a place to park their bikes.

"I love going to campus and seeing bikes locked all over railings and benches and signs," said Saint Rose junior Danielle Neckles. "It seems like at the end of last semester the bike rack in front of the Activities Center was empty half the time, now there is never a time where there is less than two bikes on it which is awesome."

Neckles, who lives off campus, commutes to campus for class about three times a day.

She is one of the many students who have made the transition from driving to biking for travel. Some students are motivated by a love for riding, others the desire for a more active lifestyle or by high gas prices.

"Everybody's said it already, but gas prices are ridiculous and I don't see them going down to the dreamlike prices of the 90s ever again," said Dan Henderson, who commutes by bike and also rides recreationally.

Neckles noticed a definite difference in her gasoline consumption after switching to commuting by bike this summer.

"I drove my car to do everything like get groceries, go to work, run errands. I filled my gas tank three times that month," Neckles said. After building her bicycle, she was able to last an entire month on one tank of gas.

Neckles rides a bicycle that she built herself with the help of the Trinity Bike Rescue. The Trinity Bike Rescue is a volunteer operation that works along with the Troy Bike Rescue to help people refurbish old bicycles, rebuild bikes from parts and promotes the knowledge of bicycle maintenance and safety in the Participants either make donations, trades, or commit volunteer hours in order to obtain parts, which they then assemble in the Bike Rescue workshops with the help of volunteers.

"Building my bike was a big thing for me," Neckles said. "Most people just go to Walmart, pick up a bike and take it home pre-assembled. I used to be one of those people I admit, but I have a lot more pride in my bike knowing that everything that is on it I took part in picking out and putting together, right down to the chipped paint."

Henderson volunteers at both the Troy and Trinity Bike Rescues helping people repair old or broken bikes to get them back on the road. He recently began volunteering, which he says he does for a variety of reasons, including friendly volunteers and a desire to help people become more self-sufficient.

"I've been traveling between the two bike rescues for about three to four weeks, racking up repair skills like Tony Hawk in a half-pipe paradise," Henderson said.

Saint Rose students are not the only ones considering the switch to bike commuting, but for some

it can be a difficult balance to strke.

Mitchell Masterson is a junior at SUNY Albany who commutes by car from North Troy for class. A bike enthusiast, he is considering moving to Albany and commuting by bike.

"I have a fourty-five minute commute or longer from door to classroom," said Masterson. "I'm not sure I would save any time. Gas, sure, but then I would have rent to pay. I'm not sure it equals out."

For those that do make the decision to commute by bicycle, it is important to follow steps to ensure their safety.

"Please, please, please remember that riding on the sidewalk does not make you invincible," Henderson said. "Almost everyone I've seen hit while biking was riding on the sidewalk and then darting out into traffic thinking it would stop for them."

Other advice from Henderson includes checking out NYS traffic law regarding bicycles, learning proper hand signals, riding with traffic, not against it, using front and rear lights if riding at night, and being predictable when riding.

"Most of all, enjoy the sense of freedom and accomplishment you get from biking," Henderson said.

For more information about the Troy and Trinity Basement Rescue, visit or visit the basement of 15 Trinity Place in Albany every Tuesday and Wednesday between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

© Copyright 2009 The Saint Rose Chronicle

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