Go green and get healthy with Commuter Challenge

National Bike to Work Day gets underway on Friday, May 20, and Joy Cannon, a researcher at Penn’s Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine, is inviting fellow bicyclists to sign up for this year’s Commuter Challenge.

Sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Challenge is a free and friendly three-month competition that encourages people to bike or walk to work. 

Cannon, who works in the school’s Division of Hematology/Oncology, has signed on to serve as captain of a team she’s dubbed the Penn Pedalers. Employees can join other University teams, too, such as the Penn Family Care team or Granato Lab at Penn.

“I usually take SEPTA, but I just bought a bike and the weather’s so nice, I thought it would be good exercise,” Cannon says. “I think it will actually shorten my commute.”

The rules for the Challenge are fairly easy. Participants simply sign up and log their miles. Each workplace team will compete against teams of similar size, and the teams with the highest percentage of biking days commuted will be the monthly winners in their individual categories. Additional information, including a list of teams to join, is available at www.commutebetter.com.

“Like a lot of people, I spend much of my work and recreational time seated,” Cannon says. “Even though I do other exercise, I’m hoping biking will help in the battle against the weight creep.”

Suzanne Smith, health promotion and project administrator in Penn’s Division of Human Resources, says biking or walking to work is great for your body and mind.

“Morning exercise can energize you for the day ahead, while evening exercise allows you to work off the stress you’ve accumulated over the course of the day,” she says. “Plus, you’ll know that you’ve made an impact on pollution and congestion—it’s a ‘win-win’ activity.”

Improving bicycle and pedestrian environments plays an important part in reducing emissions for Penn’s Climate Action Plan. “Every effort should be made to embrace sustainable transportation to reduce emissions and congestion,” the Plan recommends. “Vehicle use has a significant effect on local environmental quality and on Penn’s livability.”

Commuter Challenge