By Ashley Lodato
It was a form letter that started my neighbor Lucinda Bowers on her 10-week biking commute — a letter from Winthrop asking all business owners to park off the main street, in order to save parking for visitors.
“I thought I’d be a good citizen and business owner for the town,” says Lucinda, who co-owns Winthrop Motors with her husband, Tom. “So back in May I started riding my bike to work. But then I just kept riding.” Lucinda rode through rain and shine — mostly shine, including that relentless heat wave in late June and early July. “I left the house at 5:45 a.m. in order to get to the shop by 6 a.m.,” she says, “and the ride was just pristine. Not another car on the road. I said hello to the horses and the deer.”
Coming home was another story, however. After a nine- or 10-hour work day, Lucinda found — as would anyone else — the ride home in 100-degree heat pretty taxing.
Lucinda has ridden a bike for many years and says “I’m still riding an old clunker that weighs a million pounds,” but it has become a part of her routine. The goal changed from simply being a conscientious business owner to being healthy. She also gained a bit of a reputation.
“Once my customers found out I was riding to work,” says Lucinda, “they started joking about me being a green gas station owner. This wasn’t part of my original goal, but I later realized that I only used one tank of gas in three months once I started biking to work.”
In a reversal of typical worry patterns, Lucinda’s daughter, Liv, who just finished her first year of college, is concerned about her mother’s commute. It’s not her mom’s fitness that worries her — it’s the fact that a large portion of the commute doesn’t include any bike lanes or even shoulders, as well as the tendency of drivers on Twin Lakes Road to put the pedal to the metal. “After that rollover on the big corner,” says Lucinda of the accident from a couple of weeks ago, “Liv really started worrying about me.”
Liv joins a cadre of families who are concerned about excessive speeds on that section of road, especially given the number of bike riders, including young kids, who use the road to ride to town.
I asked Lucinda if her bike commute had inspired any other Winthrop business owners to leave their cars at home. She wasn’t sure about other businesses, but noted that one of her Winthrop Motors employees who lives near town now walks to work. One small step (or pedal) for man, one extra parking space for mankind.