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Seacoast-area bicyclists work up an appetite for Friday's breakfasts, marking the conclusion of this year's Bike/Walk to Work Week in New Hampshire. (GRETYL MACALASTER/Union Leader Correspondent)

Tour de Breakfast

Alternative commuters celebrate end of Bike/Walk to Work Week

PORTSMOUTH - Bikers descended on breakfasts around the Seacoast on Friday morning at the conclusion of Bike/Walk to Work Week in New Hampshire.

About 100 alternative commuters attended Grill 28's inaugural breakfast at Pease International Tradeport early in the morning before splitting off to their respective jobs for the day.


A hearty handful participated in the Tour de Breakfast, stopping at five of 10 commuter breakfast locations by 9:30 a.m., starting at Independent Fabricators in the Newmarket Mills and ending at Popovers in Market Square in Portsmouth.


Arlon Chaffee of Newmarket is one of three cyclists who started the Tour de Breakfast about seven years ago when there were just three locations.

Josh Pierce, president of Seacoast Area Bicycle Routes, is happy to see Bike/Walk to Work Week participation growing, as it means more commuters are using their bikes instead of their vehicles to get to work, at least for one day each year. A national Bike to Work Week effort started about 50 years ago.


Dan Milewski of Exeter works at Lonza Biologics at Pease International Tradeport. He rode his bike into work on Monday and Tuesday, but bad weather on Wednesday and being "lazy" on Thursday led him back to the car. But on his day off on Friday, he again hopped on his bike and made the trip into Pease to enjoy the Grill 28 breakfast, although a bit later than the masses.


He said cycling into work provides a fresh start to the day. But he admits that logistics can be challenging, especially when lugging a laptop and an extra set of clothes to work.

SABR started the state Bike to Work week event 11 years ago with the Rockingham Planning Commission and the Strafford Regional Planning Commission, and it has spread to other communities, including Manchester, Keene and Concord, through Commute Green New Hampshire. Commute Green encourages commuters to choose an alternative to driving alone at least one day a week, whether biking, walking, taking the bus or carpooling.


SABR helps make the commute easier by offering a "Map Your Route" program on its website detailing a variety of bike routes around the Seacoast.


Easier commuting


Bike path improvements are coming with the opening of the new Memorial Bridge between Kittery, Maine, and Portsmouth this summer. Bike paths will be improved with the widening of shoulders on Route 108 between Durham and Newfields and plans for a multi-use path project at Pease that Scott Bogle, senior planning director with Rockingham Planning Commission, said will help cyclists navigate the tricky entrance of the Tradeport from Route 33.


Bogle helps organize Bike/Walk to Work Week on the Seacoast and said the goal is to try and get commuters thinking about alternatives while the weather is nice.


"In trying to promote biking to work, we are not suggesting somebody needs to be hard core about it and go out rain, snow, ice. We want people to give it a try," Bogle said. "By having the event, we give people a chance to give it a try, find out if they like it, have fun, exercise, save money and then maybe do it again."


Diane Gibbins of Dover plans to commute from her home in Dover to her job in Portsmouth more often now that the weather has warmed up, and said she always arrives at work more cheerful after a ride in the morning air.


About 466 cyclists and walkers signed in at the 10 Seacoast commuter breakfasts.


Award ceremony


A celebration event was held Friday evening at the Portsmouth Brewery, and handmade trophies featuring various bicycle gears were presented to businesses of various sizes in the Corporate Commuter Challenge, for having the most employees participate in Bike/Walk to Work Week.


The University of New Hampshire, the National Visa Center at Pease, IAPP, and Papa Wheelies all took top honors in their divisions.


Bogle said he hopes not only that next year's event is an even bigger success, but that more people on a regular basis consider alternative commuting as they head into work in the coming summer days.


gmacalaster@newstote.com



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