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Pullman gets physical commuting to work

PULLMAN – Pullman ranked in the top 10 pedestrian-oriented communities in the nation, according to a recent poll.
The poll came from the Bikes at Work database from The site uses census numbers to show how
many people walk to their jobs in cities, towns and villages across the U.S.
(Steven Russell, Don Matteson, Jeanne Mchale, and Judith Ashworth put their best foot forward, representing the many walker/bikers in Pullman. Photo by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Services)
It seems that local residents are not surprised by the findings. In fact, many community members said the commuter friendly atmosphere is one of the greatest advantages that Pullman has to offer.
Jeffrey N. Bryan, assistant professor of oncology in Veterinary Clinical Sciences, is a seasonal biker. For the past 22 years, he’s bicycled the six miles to work, approximately four days a week. Bryan said he bicycles for exercise and to decrease gas consumption.
“I’m happy to minimize the profits the oil companies take from my family,” he said. “I also have five children who will inherit the earth we leave behind.  I want to minimize the long-term impact my activities have on the environment.”
Paula Marley, principal assistant with Pharmaceutical Sciences, said her early morning ride from Moscow to Pullman is not only environmentally friendly, but invigorating. Marley and her husband leisurely ride the 10 miles to work two to three days a week.
“My husband, with two artificial knees and one artificial hip, and I, with one bad ankle and a knee, have found that we can ride a comfort bicycle without too much pain,” she said. “We enjoy riding together and getting what exercise we can.”
Steven Russell, DVM with the Office of the Campus Veterinarian, has also caught the biking bug. For the last three years, he’s ridden 4 to 5 days per week, weather dependent. Doing something that is healthy, saves money and is environmentally friendly just makes sense, he said. Much more than these benefits, Russell said his biking experiences are too vast to describe.
“Like the time I almost hit a porcupine in the dark, or the time that the deer almost hit me,” he said. “Or maybe describing the briskness of the morning air, the beauty of the Palouse and the pleasure of muscular exertion? It’s all there.”
(Photo at left by Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services)
The results of the poll indicate the following:
Highest walk-to-work locations for towns with more than 20,000 residents (Population / Percentage Walking)
Ithaca City, N.Y. 29006 / 43.33%
Athens city, Ohio 21192 / 42.39%
State College, Pa. 38420 / 41.8%
North Chicago, Ill. 36001 / 29.06%
Oxford city, Ohio 22087 / 28.86%
Fort Bragg, N.C. 29246 / 26.13%
Cambridge, Mass. 101355 / 25.76%
Fort Hood, Texas 33595 / 23.87%
College Park, Md. 24590 / 23.28%
Pullman City, Wash. 24740 / 22.53%
According to a subsequent online poll taken of faculty and staff by WSU Today, respondent results indicate that per monthly average:
64% walk or ride 0 times per month
7% walk or ride 1-4 times per month
4% walk or ride 5-9 times per month
8% walk or ride 10-14 times per month
17% walk or ride 15 or more times per month
Judith Ashworth, with Libraries/Serials and Electronic Resources, has walked to work for more than 27 years. Ashworth said once walking gets into your blood, you’re stuck with it.
“I walk come rain, shine, snow or wind,” she said. “In fact, if a day or two goes by without any walking, my mind gets fuzzy and I get cranky — not to mention creaky. Far from simply being a means of getting from one point to another, walking enhances each one of my days.”
Sandi Klingler, administrative program manager with WSU Children’s Center, agrees that walking is a lifestyle. She walks, rollerblades, bikes, and occasionally cross-country skis to work as much as possible. She said she hopes to reduce carbon emissions, lessen oil dependence and keep her environmental footprint as small as possible.
“I always encourage people to start thinking about alternate ways to get around,” she said. “Dust off the old 10-speed bicycle in the garage and revisit how fun it is to get out on a gorgeous spring morning. Let’s get back to being in touch with our senses and our earth.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s for the exercise, environment or pocketbooks. Or even for pure and simple relaxation. Regardless of the motive, one thing’s for sure, WSU is doing it. Walking and biking to and from work, and changing the way the community defines and participates in its transportation.

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