Beautiful morning, stormy afternoon bookend Bike to Work Day
May 27, 2016
Robin Elgart is a huge advocate for bicycle commuting to Johnson Space Center. Elgart has been commuting by bike since 2008, even before she moved to Houston. When she and her husband moved here, they specifically looked for a house with an easy bike commute. So, Elgart was a natural choice to lead the largest group of riders for JSC’s Bike to Work Day (BTWD) on May 19.
One of the primary goals of BTWD is to encourage people to try bicycle commuting for a day in a supportive environment with lots of other riders. Elgart was the group lead for the Clear Lake area, with 16 riders in her group by the time they reached JSC.
Kirstyn Johnson, another bike enthusiast and JSC Green Team member, organized the event.
“We want to show cars and the city of Houston that people want to ride bikes,” Johnson said. “It’s the city’s responsibility to do more to accommodate bike riders.”
Sarah Gonzaga had been a frequent bicycle commuter when she was a student in California, but this was her first time biking to JSC since moving to Houston.
“I was hesitant to bike here because the culture is different and there aren’t as many bikers,” Gonzaga said. “I was really excited about this event. I got to see how people commuted, find new routes and find new people to commute with.”
The morning commute was calm, with overcast skies and relatively cool weather. The forecast for the afternoon, however, was more ominous. Strong thunderstorms were predicted for the afternoon and evening across Houston and, by 2 p.m., heavy rain with thunder and lightning blanketed the area.
“Getting home was more of a free-for-all,” Elgart said. “We were trying to get out between the rain bands.”
There was a silver lining inside the thunderstorm for Elgart. “Having the day end so miserably was a good lesson. It showed people what could happen. It didn’t make Bike to Work Day any less of a success. It showed people that you can still get home, and it taught them to be creative and be prepared.”
Elgart had more advice for those considering bike commuting more frequently. “Don’t be bashful about asking people. I’m absolutely stunned at the generosity of my co-workers. I would ask any of them for a ride home if I needed it, and know that they would help.”
Johnson is already looking ahead to next year. “I’d like to get more riders involved, and we’d like to look beyond bike commuting (and) into other forms of alternate transportation.”
Participants said they wanted to do this event again, perhaps even as a monthly group commute. That’s something Gonzaga whole-heartedly supports.
“Riding in a group made me feel a lot safer,” Gonzaga said. “It was awesome.”
To find out more about bike commuting at JSC, contact JSC’s Green Team.
NASA Johnson Space Center