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Bicycling a way of life and preferred means of transportation for MPS paraprofessional

Barbara Connolly-Blick rides her bike to work

Rain and snow don’t keep Barbara Connolly-Blick from riding her bicycle. It’s how she gets around Milwaukee - including traveling to and from work.

Connolly-Blick, a paraprofessional at Golda Meir School, said she began regularly riding her bike to work from her home in the city’s Washington Heights neighborhood in 2003. It’s about a seven-mile round trip.

“I used to drive to work during the winter months, but when I saw the streets were clear and dry most of the time, I started biking to work year round,” she said. She hasn’t driven to work since 2008.

Biking in sub-zero weather and snow isn’t as bad as people may think. Connolly-Blick said she wears winter biking clothing and the physical activity also helps keep her warm.

Connolly-Blick is part of the growing national trend of bicycling commuters, which has swelled by more than 60 percent between 2000 and 2013, according to the League of American Bicyclists. May is National Bike Month and encourages people to celebrate the benefits of biking and to take part in National Bike to Work Day on May 20.

Tara Witt, MPS employee benefits coordinator, said biking is an excellent, low-impact exercise. “It’s good for the body and it’s great for the environment,” Witt said.

Connolly-Blick estimates she rides between 75 and 100 miles weekly, but said that the miles increase during the summer when she works for and leads biking safety programs for the Wisconsin Bike Fed.

Besides the health benefits, Connolly-Blick has reduced the amount of wear and tear on her car because she rides her bike everywhere. It’s also helped her save money because she’s only had to fill her car’s gas tank three times this year.

Connolly-Blick is an experienced bicyclist but said anyone considering biking to work should research safe routes and bicycling road rules. The Wisconsin Bike Fed also has many resources and information about bicycle commuting.

“Look for a route you think you’d be comfortable taking then try riding it on a weekend to see if you can do it,” she said. “I bike because I love it and it keeps me in good shape.”

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