Pedalin professor weaned
himself from his wheels
By Dan Heuchert
day is Give Air a Brake Day for Leonard Schoppa.
those of us who drive otherwise-empty cars to work each day are
being invited to seek alternate ways to work on May 8, Schoppa,
a politics professor, will do what he always does: hop on his
bike and pedal the two miles from his home near Rugby Avenue to
his Cabell Hall office.
not what he has always done. Despite biking everywhere
in graduate school and being exposed to one of the worlds
great cycling societies while researching in Japan, his area of
scholarly interest, Schoppa admits he used to drive to work every
when he started pedal-pumping, he didnt quite commit to
doing it all the time. He clung to his parking permit for years.
What if it rained? Or was cold? How about those days when he had
to drop his daughter at preschool? Or had to fly out of town after
work? And that nasty Rugby Avenue hill?
you switch from driving to biking, its kind of like giving
up smoking, he said. Its hard to do cold turkey.
If you phase it down, its easier.
by one, the questions were answered. He rides a city bus in bad
weather. He bought a bike trailer for his daughter. An 18-speed
bike helps smooth the hilly terrain. And the days he really does
need a car are rare enough that they just dont justify the
expense of keeping the permit.
benefits went beyond not having to pay for gas and parking.
was just the attractiveness of being able to ride through such
pretty residential streets between my home and the office,
he said. It was also a way to make sure I get a certain
amount of exercise each day. And its good for the environment.
isnt for everyone, he admits. There are an increasing number
of bike lanes in town, but Schoppa says he would like to see even
more, perhaps along railroad tracks, which tend to be more level.
college towns that are really into biking tend to be flatter than
Charlottesville, he said.