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Get your bike on

Businessmen on their way to work, dressed up in suits, briefcases in tow. The Charlottesville Transit Service hopes to add a new twist to this familiar scenario by taking workers out of cars and onto bikes through Monday's Bike to Work Day.

Bike to Work Day comes as part of the city's employee traffic reduction policy, an effort to promote less traffic on Charlottesville's streets both before, after and during the work day.

"Biking is healthy not just for the environment but also for the rider," said Diane Taylor, marketing specialist for CTS and employee transportation coordinator for the city.

Biking to work instead of driving helps maintain healthy hearts without draining pocketbooks, Taylor said.

According to one study, driving a single-occupancy vehicle to work each day can cost commuters over $3,000 by the end of the year. Carpoolers, depending on the size of their group, can save between 25 and 75 percent, while those opting for city transit can reduce costs by nearly 90 percent.

City transit also provides a very environment-friendly way of traveling. A study from the Department of Energy revealed that just one 35 to 40 foot bus translates to six city blocks of single-occupancy vehicles.

Evidently, a number of commuters have already made the switch to city transportation, as use of the CTS busline has increased 20 percent in the past year. CTS Express, a new shuttle service, allows city workers to park in local Park and Ride lots for free and then take the shuttle Downtown. The new buses come complete with bike racks so bikers can take a short break before hitting the office.

Taylor and Mayor Blake Caravati hope next week's event will inspire residents to think of alternatives to automobiles. To help sway potential bikers, CTS will provide free breakfast, information and bicycling accessories donated from area merchants during the morning commute.

This first-annual biking extravaganza comes at an especially traffic-congested time for Charlottesville roads. The combination of the start of the school year for University and area students, coupled with the beginning of the football season has packed the streets to capacity.

"During the football season, the community faces many problems with traffic and parking," Taylor said.

Compiled by Stephanie Batten

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