On Friday morning, dozens of Catonsville area residents gathered in front of the Catonsville Fire Station No. 4 on Frederick Road to save on gas and money, while getting exercise on their way to work.
Instead of driving on May 30, commuters rode their bikes to work in the company of others, as part of Bike to Work Day, which was rescheduled from an original date of May 16 that was cancelled due to weather.
Residents met in front of Santa's House next to the fire station in the 700 block of Frederick Road Friday to choose their best route to follow to work from among seven options.
Routes from the location left to: Baltimore-Washington International Airport area, Carroll Park, Frederick, Greenbelt/Beltsville, Relay Elementary School, the Social Security Administration and Towson.
The event was one of many organized throughout the Baltimore area by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council.
Catonsville Rails to Trails and the Hub/C’Ville Bikes, a shop in the 800 block of Frederick Road, participated in the event.
Charlie Murphy, 60, a Catonsville resident and bicycling activist, spearheaded the effort in Catonsville that he calls a “group effort.”
Murphy, who works as a botanist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Beltsville, said he’s been cycling for 13 years and avoids commuting by car, weather permitting.
Murphy said after the 9/11 attacks, he was convinced biking was a better way to avoid relying on oil.
He bikes to the St. Denis MARC train station in Relay, takes the train to Beltsville, then bikes the remainder of the route to his office.
“Ever since I started biking, to work my commute has become enjoyable,” Murphy said. “It gives me the opportunity to get exercise and read a book on the train, rather than being stuck in traffic.
“Sometimes, it’s the best part of my day and not many people can say that,” Murphy said.
Murphy said he rarely drives his 20-year-old truck, which only has 120,000 miles.
Thomas Aljuni, president of Catonsville Rails to Trails, was one of those traveling to Beltsville by taking the 30-mile route led by Murphy. He said the goal of the event is to, “get people out of their cars onto their bikes to explore different transportation methods.”
Aljuni said the route, which he traveled last year, takes between two and two and a half hours to travel, which follows a series of back roads and avoids highways.
Aljuni said, while it's not always practical or easy to ride a bike to work, it's better for a commuter’s health, better for the environment, eases traffic and saves money.
First District County Councilman Tom Quirk was in attendance, although he didn't bike to Towson as originally planned.
He was saving his energy for a 100 mile bike on Sunday in Easton, which is a fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis, he said.
Quirk, who sponsored a bill that established the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee with 5th District Councilman David Marks, said biking is one of his “personal favorite activities.”
“It’s something I strongly believe in — developing bike trails and paths is what people are looking for when they’re looking for a place to live,” Quirk said.
“It’s sustainable and better for the environment, good for health and it increases our property values,” he said.
“I’m convinced that our property values increase when there are more ways to get around,” Quirk said.