Bike commute: Steve Sanders, Arden Hills to University of Minnesota East Bank, 9 miles each way

  • Article by: BILL MCAULIFFE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 27, 2014 - 2:53 PM

Steve Sanders has been riding to work year-round for 18 years, through sun, snow, ice, rain and sleet.

Steve Sanders

Photo: Courtesy of Steve Sanders,

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Steve Sanders has been riding to work year-round for 18 years, through sun, snow, ice, rain and sleet.

He also rode through a year of chemotherapy 13 years ago, sometimes stopping every 1,000 feet just to gather strength.

“The doctor said if it made me feel good, do it,” said Sanders, 59. “It was a way to kind of fight back, too. Not riding my bike would have been like giving in. I just wasn’t going to give in.

“It makes me happy to be out on my bicycle, and to see the world from the seat of my bicycle. You see things you don’t see when you’re going fast in your car. You notice things, just being out in the morning, when the world is waking up, and you’re out there on your bike.

“I go through the [state] fairgrounds, and it’s lovely. It’s like going through a deserted town. I feel so much more a part of the natural world when I’m out there on my bike. It’s an unmediated experience. You’re out there in the elements, and you’re not protected by a vehicle.

“I own a car. I’m not anti-car. But just being on a bicycle is an experience you can’..t replicate in any other way. When the snow is falling and your tires are whispering through a light snow, there’s just nothing like it.”

Sanders is the alternative transportation manager at the U, but bike commuting isn’t a way for him to practice what he preaches, necessarily. He points out that he’s been bike commuting since he was a parking supervisor.

By not paying to park a vehicle himself, he saves more than $1,200 each year. “And the health benefits are obvious to anybody,” he added.

Sanders said he’s convinced that a single ride to work would convert anyone who has resisted. He has studded tires for his rides in the winter but says that otherwise he has no need for special clothing or equipment. The bike he uses most of the year is 40 years old.

But isn’t it just easier to drive, like most people?

“For me personally, there’s just something magical about having the health and ability to ride my bike, and a pleasant way to do it,” Sanders said. “All those factors together make it that much more appealing than just driving my car.”

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