Mercy Physician Shares Commuting Tips on Bike to Work Day

May 15, 2015

Dr. John Harkess arrives to work at Mercy

Dr. John Harkess

Dr. John Harkess, a Mercy infectious disease specialist, rides his bike to work many days, a round-trip commute of 36 miles.

“I really do enjoy it when you arrive at work having had a bike ride; you’re wide awake and feel great,” he said.

Harkess started biking to work to stay in shape and be more environmentally conscious. The daily ride serves the dual purpose of keeping him in shape and burning less oil. 

“I like it that I don’t use carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels to get to work. I use my own,” he said. “I just think the world would be a better place if more people rode bikes.”

Harkess emphasized that a potential bike commuter shouldn’t just set out on the road.

“Commuting to work is not something you just decide to do,” he said. “It takes a bit of planning. You don’t just do it on the spur of the moment.”

Although Harkess tries to avoid busy thoroughfares, his commute crosses several heavily trafficked roads and intersections. He often rides in the early morning, when the darkness makes him harder to see. However, he said, most drivers have been courteous and give him plenty of room. He doesn’t feel unsafe on his commute.

In the 15 years Harkess has commuted on a bike, he has learned some lessons about how to stay safe and be prepared when the work day begins.

  • Take a practice ride before commuting for real
  • Keep toiletries, a pair of shoes, clothes and other things you may need at the office
  • Whenever possible, leave a car at the office in case you can’t ride home
  • Maintain and check your bike regularly, and always carry flat-fixing materials
  • Leave a week’s worth of clothing at the office
  • Use a generator-powered light on your bike
  • Wear the right apparel for ride duration and weather
  • Always pay attention to drivers and what’s ahead of you

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Meredith Huggins
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