By Eric Villanueva ’11
On any day, three to five teachers’ bikes are parked in the bike racks below Eller.
These days climate change and rising gas prices entice many Brophy employees to bike or ride mass transit to school.
Forty-three Brophy teachers and employees currently participate in the alternative transportation program, according to Mr. John Buchanan, Brophy security director.
“If I can do it, I should do it,” said Mr. John Damaso ’97, who jointly bikes and rides the Light Rail to school.
According to Mr. Damaso, he switched from his car to his bike to set an example for students to follow after last year’s Summit on climate change and renewable energies.
Mr. Damaso said his Summit goal had been to reduce his gas consumption to only one tank per semester, but he succeeded in lowering his consumption to only a half tank of gas.
Plus, Mr. Damaso said biking is good for his mental and physical health and he feels good outdoors.
He estimated he bikes and rides the Light Rail 17 or 18 days out of a 20 school days in a month, and does not plan to change in the near future.
“Like any lifestyle change, once you set it in motion and commit, it doesn’t become a chore, but becomes part of who you are,” Mr. Damaso said.
Like Mr. Damaso, Mr. Fred Garner participates in the Trip Reduction Program at Brophy. He bikes to school riding in bike lanes and along the canal between Brophy and Central High School.
When he and his family first moved from Chicago six years ago, he said he and his wife purposely bought a house within biking distance of Brophy.
Mr. Garner said he has no reason not to bike to school everyday, rain or shine.
In the past six years, he has been rained on only 20 times and carries a rain coat on his bike, Mr. Garner said.
Mr. Garner said the cost of a second car and gas is a personal incentive for biking to school, but cited the environment as equally motivating.
Beside personal motivation, faculty and staff at Brophy who use alternative transportation also receive monetary incentive from the school and county.
Every business in Maricopa County with more than 50 employees are required to offer an incentive program subsidized by the county, according to Mr. Buchanan, who helps Dean Mr. Jim Bopp organize the Trip Reduction Program.
According to Mr. Buchanan, participants in Brophy’s Trip Reduction Program are entered into monthly drawings for $50 value prizes, while the program also covers 50 percent, or $17, for a monthly bus pass.
Mr. Garner won the $50 prize in February, while Ms. Sherri Stephens won last month’s prize, according to Mr. Buchanan.
With the school’s “Guaranteed Ride Home” program that makes sure no employee is stranded on campus, users are assured transportation for unexpected emergencies.
Forty preferred parking spaces are available for faculty and staff carpools in the south parking lot, while bike racks, showers and lockers are available for teachers and employees who bike or walk to Brophy.
Mr. Damaso said he equates the money he spends on the Valley Metro transit pass from Brophy to what he would spend on a tank of gas.
“The ‘Good Citizen’ thing to do is to put it (the money) into public transit instead of the oil companies,” he said.
“I just want to be with the people in the city,” he added. “That’s what Phoenix needs: more camaraderie among citizens and commuters.”
Drivers respect him, give him the right of way as a cyclist and say “Hello” to him as he bikes through the south parking lot in the morning, Mr. Damaso said.
In some commutes though, there is little friendliness between driver and cyclist.
“I don’t expect anyone’s ever going to respect me on a bike,” Mr. Garner said. “I have to be a defensive cyclist.”
“While I do have a right as a cyclist on the road, once a month I’ll have somebody who buzzes me real close, lays on the horn and says, ‘Get off the road,’” he added.
But Mr. Damaso said that soon could change.
“At least in this city, the way it’s structured you still need a car at this moment, but it’s steadily changing and becoming more centralized,” he said.