From gas pump to pedal power

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Tired of rising gas prices?

Follow the lead of Federal Way’s Marty and Debi Dopps and bike to work.

The Doppses regularly bike to work at their downtown Seattle offices during the months of April through October.

Although the pair bikes to work mainly for the exercise and the camaraderie with fellow bikers, saving money on gas is a nice perk, said Debi, who estimates she saves about $5 each day she commutes by bike.

The couple is putting extra emphasis on making the commutes this month because May is National Bike Month. Friday is National Bike to Work Day.

Marty, 51, is part of a team at Group Health that is competing with other businesses to see whose employees can log the most miles this month. Debi, 53, is part of a similar team at Boeing.

Marty regularly wakes before dawn and makes the 30-mile commute to his job at Group Health in Seattle. It takes him 90 minutes.

“I spend nothing on gas for work,” he said.

Twice a week, his wife commutes as well. Debi’s commute is 16 miles to the Boeing office in Seattle. When the pair bike together, they drive to Russell Road Park in Kent and ride from there so Debi doesn’t have to bicycle up the steep Reith Road hill on her way home.

Most of their commute is along the Green River Trail. After Marty drops off Debi, he heads down Airport Way and Alaskan the rest of the way to his office.

“Cars are the scariest part. And he has to deal with urban warfare to get into town,” Debi said.

Marty said drivers are, for the most part, very polite to him and other bikers. His only scary incident was when he and a friend were briefly trapped between an 18-wheel semi-truck and a guard rail. They had only about a foot of space to bike in. Marty also recently crashed on his bike and broke an arm, but he was undeterred from continuing his commutes after he healed.

His advice to drivers sharing the road with cyclists is to pass bikers on roadways when possible and to be aware of them.

“It’s really good to make eye contact with the cyclist to let them know that they see you,” Marty said.

Only pouring rain will stop the Doppses from making the commute. When they don’t bike, Marty rides the bus and Debi drives to work.

During biking season, both Marty and Debi keep a supply of clean work clothes at their offices. Both workplaces also offer employee showers.

“It’s so important to have that,” Debi said.

Marty recently lost 25 pounds through diet and exercise. Biking to work helps keep him in shape, he said. He wears a device that tracks the calories he burns throughout the day, and he estimates that he burns 600 calories each direction during his bicycle commute.

Debi prefers to run for exercise, but said that biking provides a nice alternative.

“I can’t do the treadmill. Boring. This is not boring,” she said. “The first couple times it’s a pain, but you get used to it. You get into a routine.”

Contact Margo Hoffman: or (253) 925-5565.

Biking to work can help you

save money and burn calories

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