EDITOR’S NOTE: In honor of National Bike To Work Week on May 14-18, 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 Anchorage profiles (written by Janice Swier) and SEARHC for the Sitka profile (note, most profiles appeared previously in newsletters for the various organizations).
Richard Hall, Director of Statewide Health Information Management Service for Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, first started using his bike to commute to work in 1975 and didn’t stop when he moved to Anchorage in 1978.
Hall typically bikes to work two or three days a week during the fair weather seasons — spring, summer and fall — only deterred from biking when he has events that will require the car during the day or when the elements of the day are not conducive to biking. Hall says, “There are three factors that determine whether it is a yucky day to ride: dark, cold and wet. I can deal with any one at a time, but two or three at the same time can stop me from riding.”
“It [biking to work] is fun, good exercise and cheap,” Hall says of his three mile bike commutes. Back when the Alaska IHS (Indian Health Services) Area Office was downtown, Hall would have to ride in some busy traffic lanes in order to get to work. Hall much prefers the trails and often carries his camera while he bikes as he likes to occasionally stop and take pictures of wildlife or pretty vegetation.
Hall concedes that there are challenging aspects of commuting by bike: weather, what to do on days you are running late, bike storage, and worrying about being presentable for work; but these are all challenges that can be overcome. His advice for people who want to start commuting to work: dress appropriately: stay dry, warm and visible. Hall also warns, “Watch out for geese and dogs, they do nasty things on trails.”