YMCA executive cherishes 'alone' time on bicycle commutes

'It is the one time of day that I can be alone with my thoughts.
A lot of my best ideas come out of that special time.' — Jim Everett

Exercise, saving money and helping the planet can be great reasons to trade gas and brake pedals for foot pedals, but don’t underestimate the value that a little “me” time offers to those that choose to commute by bicycle.

Jim Everett commutes by bicycle to his Boise office most days. The CEO of the Treasure Valley Family YMCA said he has many reasons for bicycle commuting.

First, there’s the time.

“We all have time crunches, but commuting by bicycle only adds 10 minutes to a route the normally takes 25 minutes to drive,” he said. “It’s a great way to gear up for work. We all need time away from technology and I really enjoy the ride.”

He added that riding his bicycle also saves money and is environmentally friendly. It provides a sense that, “I’m doing some part for the environment.”

Cycling five days per week for a total of 105 miles weekly most of the year, Everett is quick to say that he is not anti-car. “Bicycling is just my favorite form of exercise,” he said.

He said his commuting choice also is good for his mental health.

“It is the one time of day that I can be alone with my thoughts,” he explained. “A lot of my best ideas come out of that special time.”

Sometimes there are bicycle issues such as a flat tire, but Everett found that in the two instances he experienced serious problems, some friendly motorists picked him up and drove him home. They both happened to be cyclists who were driving that day.

He encouraged bicyclists new to commuting to think through their personal needs and plan ahead. “You learn to keep extra socks and other articles of clothing available for the workday,” he said. “Don’t let the little things become excuses for not cycling more.”

Everett said he is lucky to have a shower available to him, but added that more workplaces are providing shower facilities or a cleanup facility for their bicycle commuters. He also has a car available for use at his workplace if needed.

While he loves that Boise is recognized as a cycling-friendly community, high on Everett’s bicycle-commuting wish list are more defined bicycle lanes and that others look out for bicyclists.

“I may know all the rules, but it just takes one person who doesn’t to spoil a ride,” he said. “Too many people don’t understand cycling laws.”

Advice for someone just beginning to cycle regularly to work begins with making a list of things to plan for including identifying a safe route and carrying a cell phone for emergencies.

“Make sure you’re safe, with lights and are well seen,” he said. “Have a repair capability in case of a flat tire and give yourself a sufficient time cushion. Talk with others who may commute by bicycle and find out what works best for them, such as better gear.”

“Try starting small. Consider being driven or driving part of the way and ride the rest,” he said.

“Please, please wear a helmet. I know people whose lives have been saved by a helmet,” he said. “Helmets for bicyclists are like seat belts in cars.”

He reminded all who share the road that everybody on a bicycle is somebody’s loved one.

“You just need to be courteous,” he said. “Nobody wants to hit somebody.”

Published 5-18-2012