Bike riders from around the city raised awareness about healthy lifestyles while using their morning commutes for exercise.

Columbus hosted its 10th annual Bike to Work Day on Friday as part of a national campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of bike riding.

Throughout May, employees are encouraged to leave their cars behind and pedal to the office.

The city offered five departure locations for riders, and a light breakfast awaited them upon arriving in town.

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A meal featuring bottled water, yogurt, assorted fruit and granola bars was served to riders at the Irwin Conference Center Plaza downtown on Fifth Street, the front patio at Columbus Regional Health on 17th Street and the Columbus Learning Center on Central Avenue.

Riders needed 25 to 30 minutes to reach downtown after leaving the separate locations at 7:15 a.m. Breakfast was served until 8:30.

Sixty riders stopped by the downtown location, 10 at Columbus Regional Health and five at the Columbus Learning Center, said Laura Garrett, who heads community initiatives for Reach Healthy Communities.

2 cars not necessary

Four years ago, Beth and Ray Morris made a significant lifestyle change.

The Columbus couple sold their car, a Toyota RAV4, to their son, Elliott, who needed a vehicle with four-wheel drive.

Because that happened during the summer, they took the opportunity to try biking to work, and they loved it.

Even before selling the vehicle, the couple noticed multiple weeks when their two cars just sat in the garage, Beth Morris said.

They decided to keep just one, a Toyota Prius.

Juggling their schedules can be a little difficult at times, but commuting by bike allows the couple to spend more time together, Beth Morris said.

Ray Morris has no trouble riding in the snow, but there is more commuting in the Prius during that time.

From their home in the Tipton Lakes neighborhood, Ray Morris has an eight-mile trip, while Beth Morris has seven miles to travel.

Both work for Columbus Regional Health, but at different locations. Beth Morris is director of community health partnerships at the hospital on 17th Street, while her husband works as a employee counselor at 2600 Sandcrest Drive.

“I love getting the fresh air and some activity into my day without much hassle,” Beth Morris said. “It’s also a stress reliever not having to deal with morning commuter traffic on State Road 46.”

Baby on board

Steve and Emilie and Pinkston participated in Bike to Work Day for the third straight year, but they took a little detour.

Upon leaving their house on Lafayette Avenue near Donner Park, the Pinkstons swung by the Cummins Child Development Center to drop off their 19-month-old son, Sam, for day care before making their way downtown to the Irwin Conference Center Plaza.

Sam rides in a small bike trailer. He has gotten more tolerant of going on bike rides as he has gotten older, Emilie Pinkston said.

She works for the city’s planning department as a senior planner. Steve Pinkston works for Cummins as a supplier risk manager.

The normal trip is 1¼ miles, but swinging by the day care extended the trip to 3½ miles.

After commuting to work only a handful of times last year, they already have made the trip four times this month, Steve Pinkston said.

During the past month, every weekend, Emilie and Steve have ridden on the People Trails since the weather has been warmer.

“This community has so many resources with the Bike Co-Op and the People Trails,” Emilie Pinkston said. “They’ve been helpful to us, not only for biking to work but also on the weekends.”

Great for community

City-County Planning Director Jeff Bergman didn’t get the chance to participate in Bike to Work Day last year, so he wasn’t going to miss his chance this time.

He was in Sydney, Australia, for the Rotary International Competition last year.

Bergman lives in Franklin, so he doesn’t ride a bike to work normally, but for this special occasion he drove into town and rode with the group coming from the west side, near the West Hill Shopping Center.

“There are more and more people riding their bike to work on a regular basis,” Bergman said.

“As the planning director, I wanted to make sure I have awareness of that and get out to participate.”

Bergman said he spends most weekends going on bike rides with his 8-year-old son, Ethan, who has been on a bike for as long as he can remember.

Joining Bergman and the Morrises on the ride from the west side was Charlie Farber, director of business banking at MainSource Bank. This was the third year he has done the ride, although this year, his wife, Jayne, had a previous engagement and couldn’t accompany him.

“I think this reflects the growing awareness of healthy lifestyles and the benefit of doing that,” Farber said. “We are so lucky to have the People Trails. This is wonderful.”

Upcoming activities for Bike to Work Month

Today: Tipton Lakes Athletic Club is teaming with Quaff On Brewery to host a “biergarten” to raise money for the People Trails, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. parking lot of the athletic club, 4000 W. Goeller Blvd.

Sunday: The Bike Co-Op is offering a basic bike maintenance class from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at its location, 1531 13th St., #B100. More information is available at bikeco-op.org.

Tuesday: The Columbus Women’s Ride group is taking a ride to Powerhouse Brewery, 2735 State Road 9 in Columbus, for a tour and tasting. The group is meeting at 6 p.m. at Hamilton Center on Lincoln Park Drive. Anyone 21 and older is invited to join.