Cycling through snow: man rides bike regardless of weather

Some say he's crazy. Others just think it.

Anthony Lucio, a University of Iowa Ph.D candidate and avid cyclist, has come to expect the skeptical glances and looks of concern from passersby as he makes the 8.5-mile bike ride from North Liberty to campus in the subzero temperatures.

For Lucio, the harsh Iowa winters "aren't that bad."

Neither is the blistering heat. Nor the pouring rain.

"There was a professor walking by and I was carrying my bike and he's like, 'Do you know it's pouring rain out?' Lucio recalls. "I'm like, 'Yeah, that's not gonna stop me. This is the only way I have to get home.'"

Lucio is in his fifth year of a Ph.D program in chemistry. Until two years ago, he commuted on four wheels, making the hour-long drive from Muscatine.

Those questioning his sanity now, he says, should have seen him in the car.

"It really just kind of got to my nerves and I'm just like, 'I cannot wait until I'm in any situation where I'm close to campus and I can find another alternative to come into campus,'" Lucio said.

He moved to Coralville, and then North Liberty, and now rides his bicycle to campus nearly every day, only avoiding the two-tire commute when temperatures fall in the negative teens.

His choice to cycle is just that -- a choice.

Sure, he saves money -- an estimated $450 per year -- but his decision to ride his bike is largely a byproduct of his education and upbringing.

"I come from a science background, so I'm sustainability-minded," Lucio said. "I want to do what I can to help the environment, and I know one thing that I can do is to not drive in from North Liberty 18 miles every day."

Lucio said the health benefits are another influencing factor, as he can lean on his bicycle for physical activity on days he's too encumbered by his work schedule to make his fitness class or go for a run.

"On top of that, it's just convenient," Lucio said, pointing to parking as a major headache for four-wheeled vehicles. "If I'm going to have to park 15 minutes away and walk, I might as well just ride in."

Lucio may be one of the "crazier cyclists," but he's certainly not the only cyclist, as Iowa City boasts a growing community of cycling enthusiasts.

To keep up with the growth, the University of Iowa's Parking and Transportation Department has added seven bicycle repair stations throughout campus to assists riders in properly maintaining their bicycles.

Lucio, a member of the UI Office of Sustainability, emphasized the bike-related events the university hosts, including the fall bike check-up and the bike challenge.

Michelle Ribble, the commuter programs manager for the university, said the university is working to bring Bikeshare to campus, renting out bikes to students, staff, residents and visitors who wish to traverse town in an economic manner.

The efforts of the university "encourage people" to consider trading their Buick for a bicycle, said Lucio.

"The repair shops, the number of trails, everything," Lucio said. "This city has done a great job of promoting cycling."

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