EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of National Bike To Work Week on May 16-20, we will be running a series of features of bike commuters who work at the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Southcentral Foundation and Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage and the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium in Sitka. Thank you to Laura Kotelman of Southcentral Foundation for supplying the four Anchorage profiles and SEARHC for the Sitka profile (note, all profiles appeared previously in newsletters for the various organizations).
By Janice Swier
For Megan Lemasters-Soule, physician at the Anchorage Native Primary Care Center, there is more than one reason to park the car for the summer and ride a bike instead. “In the summer I rarely drive anywhere, only if I am going somewhere. … I cannot get by [without] the trails,” Lemasters-Soule stated.
When asked why, Lemasters-Soule would tell you her main reason for biking is to lower her impact on the environment. According to the Bicycle Commuters of Anchorage, commuting five miles per day on a bicycle rather than using a car will reduce an individual’s annual carbon emissions by one ton. Lemasters-Soule also argues that biking isn’t a time-inferior alternative to driving, “It usually doesn’t take that much longer to get somewhere when you ride vs. drive.”
By pulling her two children behind her in a trailer, Lemasters-Soule is also able to teach her kids an important lesson about caring for the environment, “My 4 year old asks me, ‘Are we going to bike today to make Mother Nature happy?’”
Lemasters-Soule also wants to practice what she preaches and set a good example for her patients and community. “I am often speaking to my patients about finding ways to incorporate physical activity into their daily lives,” Lemasters-Soule said.
While she admits that there are parts of the 3.5-mile journey from the Alaska Native Medical Center’s Campus to her home that she dreads, “Biking with children makes it a bit harder, mostly on the way home as it’s uphill,” Lemasters-Soule recognizes the great health benefits biking gives.
Lemasters-Soule has been participating in Anchorage’s Bike to Work Day event for the past five years. She thinks that it is a great community outreach event and is happy to report that she has met new friends in previous years by speaking to other riders at the way points. Lemasters-Soule says that she will definitely be participating again this year and will be doing so with her two children in tow.