As Charmaine Rupolt biked through last week's snow squall, she didn't think it was time to trade up to a car. She thought she'd just like to have some goggles.
"I'm a die-hard," said the 53-year-old legal secretary, who bikes seven miles from her Maryland home to work in D.C. every day. "If people can be out walking in it, I can probably be out riding in it."
Rupolt isn't the only die-hard out there. Bike commuting is on the rise in D.C. and the surrounding areas, supported by more and more trails, bike lanes, bike racks and employers who encourage biking with financial incentives and by providing bike storage and shower facilities in the workplace.
"I think bicycling is definitely on the rise," said Nicholas Ramfos, director of Commuter Connections for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
But it's still a small percentage -- only 2.17 percent of Washington-area residents bike to work, according to Census Bureau data.
"The car is still pretty much king," Ramfos said. "But that doesn't mean [biking] is not going to have potential. It definitely does. There's a lot of support behind it. There are a lot of elected officials and jurisdictions looking to do everything they can to promote bicycle and pedestrian activities."
In addition to the proliferation of bike lanes and other bike-friendly amenities offered by local governments, more private employers are hopping on the bike bandwagon.
"It's much more in the public mind now and in the mind of employers. We've seen an increase in the interest and participation [in biking incentive programs]," said Chris Eatough, manager of Arlington County's BikeArlington program.
Calvert Investments, a financial firm based in Bethesda, is one such employer. The company offers employees a one-time $500 subsidy toward the cost of a bike. It's part of the company's mission of sustainability, a spokeswoman said. Calvert also gives a 100 percent subsidy for employees who take public transit.
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