In Our August, 2017 Issue:

Pedal pushers: Benefits of biking to campus

by
Professor Allen Bellas commutes by bicycle year-round to the Minneapolis campus from his home in Edina. He teaches economics courses including ECON 311 Economics of the Environment and ECON 635 Economics of Social Issues.

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.