Unlike most of us, Tom Tarvin hasn’t been accustomed to driving a car in many years. But his alternate mode of transportation wasn’t always biking – for a long time Tom rode the bus to work. Finally, after moving closer to his work about ten years ago, Tom thought, “Riding my bike would sure be a lot easier!”
Tom has worked in Youth Services at the Winter Park Public Library for 24 years, where he is affectionately known by kids and parents alike as “Mr. Tom”. He lives only a few blocks from the library, making his bike to work short and simple. “When I got a bike, I could come and go as I please, since I mostly stay in this neighborhood”, said Tom. The only time he takes the bus is if he goes to downtown Orlando.
Tom is one of a growing number of people who choose not to own a car. “If you want to get across town, it could take two and a half hours and so sometimes you don’t even go. There are things you give up if you don’t have a car” [or even have a license, as in Tom’s case].
He might not be up for long-haul rides, but Tom enjoys the simple pleasures of riding his bike to nearby places – destinations that many of us would drive to without giving it a second thought (the grocery store, the movies, a local restaurant). “If you live close enough and the weather is good, why not?” said Tom. “It’s like wearing a tie – if you don’t have to, it’s fun. If you had to do it every day and it was long and sweaty – not so much.”
When asked what the benefits of riding are, Tom said, “I assume health benefits. Whenever I go to the doctor I pass with flying colors. I get daily aerobic exercise.”
Riding his bike is also good for his wallet. “I don’t have to worry about a car payment – no gas, maintenance, insurance, etc. I save that money I would otherwise spend.”
If you live relatively close to your work, like Tom does, consider hanging up the keys and riding your bike – even occasionally if not every day. Tom shows us that a short ride to work brings just as many benefits as a long one. You might also be pleasantly surprised by the simplicity it can add to your life.
Tom’s tips for riders:
- Make sure to have a bike light when riding in the dark – it will save you from a $40 ticket.
- Invest in a good quality bike lock. His recommendation is the U Bolt kryptonite lock.
- Get your own pump with a pressure gauge and a can of spray oil for emergencies.
- Always wear a helmet.
- As you approach a 4-way stop, read the other drivers. Most drivers will encourage you to go first.
- Know the rules of the road – they apply to bikers just like cars.
- Ask businesses for covered bike parking. “It’s nice to have a place to park your bike when you get where you’re going – and out of the rain. I encourage people to ask businesses. There didn’t use to be one at the Regal Cinema and now there is. It’s a growing trend. If retailers think it will attract business, they are adding them as amenities”, said Tom.