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A bicycle commute

Driving around Cortland lately can be challenging, with the ongoing road construction on Clinton Avenue. Between the road work and the rare sunny days in between the rainy ones, you may want to consider taking advantage of the nicer weather to walk or ride your bike instead of driving.

Opting for a more active lifestyle has always been the choice one local bicycle commuter has made. Ron Irish, who's the Finance Director at Catholic Charities, has always preferred two wheels to four.

Weather permitting, Irish can be seen pedaling to work most days on his ten-speed Kent road bike, wearing reflective gear.

Ron Irish pedals along Madison Street on a recent sunny afternoon. Bicycling is his preferred method of getting to work.

Irish doesn't have a long commute, it's about a 3-mile loop from his Cortland home near St. Mary's church to visit his mother at the Friendship House on Leon Avenue, then on over to his office on Kennedy Parkway. But the short distance is just enough to give Irish a bit of exercise which he finds more and more important as he gets older.

And Irish is riding the same bike he rode over 30 years ago when he also commuted via bike to his then job at Smith Corona; so to say it's served him well is an understatement.

Dual benefits

Irish finds that the short commute to work keeps him active and healthy, it's a needed dose of exercise, he says.

"And a part of me says I'm doing something good for the climate and environment," he says.

A sticker on his bike says "I'm fighting global warming".

A sticker on Irish's bicycle is a nod to the that fact small lifestyle choices can make a difference.

Construction woes

Recently, with the Clinton Avenue construction underway, Irish finds his shortcut through the P&C Plaza is much more heavily trafficked.

The work is more than just paving, explains City of Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin-it's an infrastructure overhaul. The wastewater, water and gas lines are all being replaced along the nearly 1-mile stretch of road, so it's a complete rebuild which will last all year.

Most traffic is rerouted down Port Watson Street, said Tobin, who added that people should also start expecting the conversion of Main Street to a two-way street, work which will begin next year.

Roads need to be routinely paved, said Tobin, so while these setbacks may cause temporary disruption in habits, it's always worth it in the end.

“The only thing worse than paving roads, is not paving roads,” he said.

Stay safe, stay seen

Irish has had a couple of close calls with traffic (cars not paying attention to his turn signals from Homer Avenue onto Main Street, for example) and he always wears reflective gear and practices riding defensively.

He advises riders to follow these precautions to stay safe and seen.

Irish stands with his Kent bicycle on Madison Street in Cortland.

Put to the test

Sometimes a trip is even faster on bike. A bicycle can more easily navigate back roads and shortcuts than a car, alternate routes that are much more in demand now that so many streets are being worked on.

To test it out, Mobility Manager Catherine Wilde did an experiment. She drove her car from 10 Kennedy Parkway to the Cortland Free Library on a recent weekday, clocking it at about 7 minutes 30 seconds given traffic backups and other delays. That same trip on bicycle (a mountain bike not built for speed) took 7 minutes 28 seconds.

So before you hop in a car to run that errand you may want to ask yourself-is there another way to make this trip?


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