STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Allison Aubrey takes us to a workplace where dozens of cyclists commute.
ALLISON AUBREY: The headquarters of National Geographic is in D.C., just a few blocks from the White House. And as I learned a few weeks ago, it is full of outdoorsy, adventure-seeking types who think nothing of biking busy city streets.
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M: We try to obey the traffic laws and stay, you know, on the right side of the streets.
AUBREY: That's John Fahey, the boss at the National Geographic Society, the CEO. He's an avid biker, and one of the ways you can get to know him - even if you have just an entry-level job - is to take him up on his lunchtime offer to ride.
M: Anyone else downstairs? Okay. So we ready to go, guys?
AUBREY: It's one of the last warm, sunny days of fall, and about 20 staffers have turned out. Some have racing bikes. One woman shows up on a banged-up 10- speed, trading high heels for sneakers. And then there's staffer Susan Straight.
M: I haven't ridden as much lately, and I'm on probably the slowest bike out here. I'm on my old mountain bike.
AUBREY: She won't break any records today, but that's not the point. John Fahey says he's just trying to encourage a little exercise, and he likes getting to know folks informally.
M: What happens is, I find out sort of what the scuttlebutt in the hallways is. And sometimes, it's totally ill-informed and sometimes, it's spot- on. But it's really good to know what people think.
AUBREY: Most of the writers here use their bikes to get to and from work every day. Photo editor Dan Westergren has been biking in for 19 years. He says he has noticed a biker boom in D.C.
M: Yeah, there's definitely a lot more people riding in.
AUBREY: His daily commute is about 12 miles a day, to and from home. And when he adds in a few lunchtime rides with the boss, Westergren says he doesn't need a gym membership to stay fit.
M: Really, to build it into your daily routine by commuting - for me has always just been the best thing. And when the kids were little, I never had time to go out and recreationally bike ride. And it was really important to bike ride, so commuting became the way that I just ride all the time.
AUBREY: It's always easy to skip the gym or an exercise class, but if your bike is your one way home, you don't have much of a choice, even if there are a few drawbacks, says Julia Yordanova.
M: In the winter, it's just gross, sometimes, with the ice.
AUBREY: Then you have to fit in a shower at the office, says Barbra Noe.
M: You're just trying to hide, like, the bike grease on your calf as you're sitting in a meeting or whatever. So...
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AUBREY: But hey, if the office culture tolerates a little sweat on the brow or grease on the calf, take it as a sign of good health. That's the way biking researcher John Pucher, of Rutgers, sees it.
INSKEEP: Most people understand that walking and cycling is healthy, but they don't think of this as something they could integrate into their daily lives.
AUBREY: Ready to go?
M: Fantastic. A beautiful day for a ride, and I couldn't ask for anything more.
M: The more fresh air we get, the happier we are. I mean, it's a no-brainer.
AUBREY: Allison Aubrey, NPR News.
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INSKEEP: It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News.
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