In winter, when bitter winds howl across ice-crusted roads, most Minnesotans rely on the comforts of a car to get them safely to where they need to go. Professor Allen Bellas is an exception.
Regardless of the weather, Bellas continues to bike the 45-minutes from Edina to the Minneapolis campus where he teaches economics.
Many Minnesotans would consider this type of commitment to be borderline insanity. But, for Bellas, it is simply a way of life
Bellas chooses biking because it gives him a deeper sense of the community
“Biking puts you in touch with the world around you much more than driving does,” Bellas said. “I’ve watched an eagle hunt on Lake Calhoun once. I also hit a raccoon once, which was scary as hell late at night. You see a lot more and experience a lot more when you’re on a bike.”
He would like to see more Metro State students bike to class. Biking to campus can mean saving money and getting exercise. To get started, Bellas suggests getting a rudimentary bike and a helmet. A student cyclist shouldn’t need anything more than the basics, he said
Harsh winters aside, why don’t more students ride their bikes to campus? Bellas thinks the main reason is the mental barrier of getting on the bike. “Once you get rolling, it’s not bad,” he said. “But there is a certain mental hurdle to put forth the effort to bike ride rather than drive. That’s especially true when you go home at night after class. Usually after class, I’m completely exhausted and until I get on the bike the last thing I want to do is ride home. Once you’re out and rolling it’s nice, but just the thought of riding home after the last class is hard.
Associate Professor Minh Vo also bikes to campus daily. He encourages students to crunch the numbers. Actual savings from biking might not be that significant.
“If you only ride a bike during fall and spring and you drive your car during the winter, you don’t save that much money because you are still paying the same amount for insurance,” he said.
Vo, who teaches finance, said the real expense of owning a car is not the gas, but the insurance. Regardless of whether you bike or drive, the cost of insurance remains the same
Bellas cautioned that hygiene can become a problem for bikers.
“I tend not to bike on hot days, but on cooler days,” Bellas said. “As long as you don’t ride too hard, you can usually get there in pretty decent shape. Just bring along a fresh shirt and a pair of shorts to change into.
With all these things in mind, Bellas suggests that you simply give it a try to see if you like it.
“This doesn’t have to be a lifestyle. It can be something you do every once in awhile,” he said
“It doesn’t have to be a big deal,” Bellas said. “You don’t have to be one of those crazy people who’s out there in insane conditions and doing it all the time. If that’s not you, then that’s not you. It’s good for you, it’s good for the environment, and it’s good for the city.