Lynette Bikos, team captain of the SPU Psychlers, says that people recognize her by her biking gear, both around campus and on the streets. Though it may stand out to others, Bikos’ gear is just another part of her daily routine.
Bikos has been a recreational cyclist for more than 20 years. But after moving from the flat plains of Kansas to the rolling hills of Seattle, she noticed how different biking was here, and that many commuted by bicycle.
It took her a while to work up the courage to try it herself: “I just got brave one day and put my bike on the front of a bus,” she said. That one day of courage led to a year-round commute, adding more than 2,500 miles a year onto Bikos’ bike.
After commuting by bike for a while, Bikos learned about bike-to-work month and joined one of SPU’s teams. Bikos is a full-time professor for SPU’s Clinical Psychology Program, and the Director of Research – hence her team’s name “Psychlers.”
As a four-time team captain of the SPU Psychlers, Bikos commits to biking as much as she can, even though she lives all the way in Mill Creek. Bikos says that she usually buses 2 miles, and bikes 4 more to get to work every day. On good days, though, she will bike more and catch the bus at a different stop.
Before starting her regular biking regimen, Bikos said that she worried about how the commute would affect her appearance. As a professor, she feels the pressure to maintain a professional appearance every working day. She mitigates this by packing supplies ahead of time. “It took me years to minimize clothes and packing,” she said. To make things easier, Bikos keeps a basket of clothing at SPU, and occasionally drives to work to switch it with a fresh one.
Bikos bemusedly noted that people really notice a change in her appearance on the days she doesn’t bike, although they often can’t pinpoint why.
Despite issues with appearances, the benefits of biking far outweigh the inconveniences. Bikos said that she loves the “trinity” of money, health, and environmental friendliness that biking provides. Saving on gas while getting in daily exercise keeps her biking as often as possible. “I love it. I get really grumpy on days when I don’t ride,”she said.
Bikos also enjoys the community that bicycling creates. “People are really supportive,” she said. Another perk: biking gets her to work on-time more than driving.
As a testament to her love and commitment, Bikos said that she bikes in every kind of weather except the most violent: ice, dense fog, and lightning.
Although rain doesn’t bother her, Bikos gets quite frustrated by the buses. Most metro buses can only hold 2-3 bicycles at a time, and Bikos has been turned away before due to lack of room. She said that she tries to start her biking route at a point of origin for buses to make sure they have space for her bike.
To help improve this situation, Bikos wants to see more Swift buses, which allow one to roll their bike onto the bus and hang them up in the back. This allows for more bicycles at a time.
Bikos also has problems dealing with street conditions, especially pertaining to roadside debris. “We have some pretty nice bike lanes,” she said, “but they aren’t cleaned after messy storms.” She even knows one place near I-5 that still has litter from the snowstorm back in January 2012, making that route slippery and dangerous.
Bikos is currently pursuing ways to make biking easier and safer in Snohomish County. But Bikos isn’t too discouraged; she also sees marked improvements in areas, such as the recently remodeled Lynnwood Transit Center.
Her advice to new bikers: “Start with what feels doable.” She said that she knew one man with a commute of 27 miles, and he biked 3 of them. She also recommends persistence: “You won’t figure it all out in the first few rides.” She admits that she still constantly tweaks her routes, gear, clothing, ect. But the more you bike, the easier it gets.
Next profile: Professor Patrick McDonald