Tommy Williams didn’t bicycle to work on Friday but he did ride his bicycle.
“I’m retired. I’m 71,” he said.
He was one of the more than 100 people who were at Fort Blount Park Friday for the Commuter Services Day and National Bike to Work Day. He rode down there on his Catrike. Riding it for three years, he has been able to continue his bicycle riding hobby that he’s had for about 30 years. He switched to this recumbent bicycle because of back problems. His Catrike close to the ground, and he lays backward on it.
“I’m just using my legs,” he said. “There’s no balancing at all.”
Williams said he drives his bicycle about 100 miles per week, usually about 45 miles each time. He didn’t say this bicycle was easier to drive than his other one but he did point out when asked that it’s one of the cheaper models that were on display at Fort Blount Park. He said at the top of the line a Catrike is about $2,600.
At LeRoy’s Bicycle Works tent, Mary Thomas was enjoying the Bacchetta, where you also lay back to ride. In fact, she enjoyed it so much she took up a lounging position saying it was as comfortable as sitting in her car.
“If I had one of these I probably would’ve rode my bike to work,” she said.
When she asked Allison Brown at the booth how much they were, Brown looked it up on the Internet and said they run from $1,500 to $4,200 each. At that point Thomas wasn’t as interested.
There were a lot of people who did roll out their bicycles to ride them to work, among them Greater Bartow Chamber Communications Director Virginia Condello,who rode her bike to work from her home in Highlands City; Bartow City Manager George A. Long showed up at Fort Blount Park in riding gear and rode his bicycle to work; Myrtice Young, from the Polk County History Center, also rode her bicycle to Bartow Friday from Highlands City; and Polk County Commissioner Melony Bell rode her bicycle to Fort Blount Park from her home in Fort Meade.
A frequent bicyclist on the Fort Fraser trail, Bell pointed out that Commuter Services, which helps co-sponsor Ride Your Bike to Work Day, has grown from about 4,000 people to 21,000 people the past five years. She encouraged people to make that number grow more.
“We should motivate the public to spread the awareness,” she said as she stood at the podium in her riding gear and wearing a bicycle helmet. She said Polk County must be a safe place for the environment for everybody and we must work to change commuter habits. “Use today to consider bicycling, walking and using our trail system.”
Bartow Mayor Pat Huff said the city thinks creatively in how to save money, pointing out that one gallon of gas equals 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.
Three businesses at the gathering were recognized and awarded for Commuter Services Day and National Bike to Work Day. Winning the award for the most employees to show up at last year’s event was the Polk County Clerk of Courts Office. Winning for the highest percentage of employees who showed up at the 2013 event was the Polk County Tax Collector’s Office. The award for the best team spirit went to the Bartow Chamber of Commerce Warriors.
Christine Diaz, a program director at the Department of Transportation, said that award was based on the Chamber taking a large part in promoting National Bike to Work Day, as Polk County has been holding the event in Fort Blount Park for the last five years.