Why they leave their cars at home | VailDaily.com

Why they leave their cars at home

Veronica Whitney
Special to the DailyEagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi and Avon Councilwoman Debbie Buckley present Tim Carlson, center, the 2005 Commuter of the Year award .

EAGLE COUNTY – His friend, Bill Nutkins, calls him a postman – riding through rain, shine, sleet or snow.Tim “TC” Carlson, who received the 2005 Commuter of the Year Award from ECO-Trails, rides his bike 21 miles to work from West Vail to Edwards every day – about 5,460 miles a year. In the summer, he rides his road bike. In the winter, he rides a 20-year old Diamondback mountain bike with rust and multi-colored spray paint he originally found in the trash. “He fixed it up, put studded tires, fenders and lights on it, and will ride it through just about any weather nature throws his way,” Nutkins said.”Tim is a living example of how one can incorporate a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle into a busy and demanding work schedule and save money at the same time,” said Ellie Caryl, of ECO-Trails. A panel of three ECO-Trails members – all bike commuters – chose Carlson.

“Riding instead of driving is good for the environment as well,” Caryl said. ECO-Trails estimates that Carlson saves some 273 gallons of gasoline annually by biking his 21-mile commute. That translates to 5,500 pounds of carbon dioxide prevented from entering the atmosphere each year, as well as carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide pollutants. Riders in the Vail Valley can encounter anything when they ride their bicycles year around, from stiff headwinds in the spring to hail in the summer and snowstorms in the winter. “When I ride to work in the morning, I arrive feeling alive and ready to work,” said Carlson, who lives with his wife and daughter. “I just love being outside, and given the choice of breathing fresh air on a bike instead of sitting in a car, I’d rather be on the bike.”Bikes vs. carsAs part of Bike to Work Day this year, which was Wednesday, ECO-Trails asked locals for nominations for Commuter of the Year. The goal? Tell some of these stories of locals riding to work regardless of the conditions and what drives them to do so.

Other nominees for Commuter of the Year included Kelli Anthony, John Irwin, Bruce Kelley (who rides from Leadville, although not every day), Jeff Mohrman, Dan Piliero and Dawes Wilson. Anthony, a massage therapist from Minturn, rides three times a week from Minturn to Vail and the other three times to Edwards – rain or shine.”I hate driving,” said Anthony, 35, who shares one car witg her boyfriend. “I used to live in West Vail and I ran into work.”Anthony said she saves about $20 a week in gas – and she still wants to ride her bike after work.”I never get enough,” she said. “I ride my road bike to work and my mountain bike after.”But bicycle commuting isn’t without its challenges.

“I really wish the Dowd Junction bike path could be left open all year around, or at least longer,” Carlson said. “The only alternative to get down valley is to ride on I-70 through Dowd Junction, which is not the safest stretch of road.”Carlson also points out that even with bike paths going in, it is important roads are built or improved with 4-to 5-foot shoulders on them. “Me and many of my friends choose to ride Highway 6 versus the pedestrian paths because they are more direct, don’t have people running or walking their dogs, and one can go as fast as he or she wants with less interruption,” Carlson said.Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or vwhitney@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado

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