PedNet Pinch Hitters ride bikes to promote active forms of transportation

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 | 6:48 p.m. CDT; updated 11:42 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Cia Johnson of the Pinch Hitters Softball Team finishes chaining up her bike after riding to Cosmo Park for a game on Tuesday night. The team likes to use alternate forms of transportation to get around Columbia.

COLUMBIA — On Tuesday evenings, the Rainbow Fields at Cosmopolitan Park are filled with co-ed slow pitch softball teams. All the teams appear mostly the same, however, along the fence of one of the dugouts are about a dozen bikes, all of which make the PedNet Pinch Hitters standout.

The team is made up of men and women who work for the PedNet Coalition, GetAbout Columbia and Cycle Extreme bike shop. Both the PedNet Coalition and GetAbout Columbia encourage people to walk or bike instead of driving cars as transportation.

Ian Thomas, the team captain, was one of the founding members of the PedNet Coalition in April 2000. At the time, he was working as a volunteer to help get PedNet started, but for the past four years it has been his career.

Thomas said he wanted the team to provide an example of an active form of transportation by riding bikes to every game.

“We want to show that it’s not as difficult as people often think it is,” Thomas said.

He said several of the players on the team don’t use cars often, including himself.

“I don’t use a car anymore,” Thomas said. “I haven’t actually used a car for over a month.”

He said most of the players come to the games from the downtown area and around campus. They all agreed to either walk or ride their bikes wherever they go. Some of the players do not even own a car anymore.

Robert Johnson, another player on the team, works for PedNet as an education coordinator for the GetAbout Columbia Project teaching courses on how to ride a bike as a part of traffic. Johnson said for the past year he has not owned a car.

“We were only driving a few times a year,” Johnson said. “And when you’re only driving a few times a year, it’s much cheaper to just rent a car.”

He said he doesn’t really care about driving and that he bikes about 5,000 miles a year. If he wants to go somewhere on a weekend he just rents a car for about $30.

“I just get personal satisfaction with doing something out of my own power rather than just driving somewhere,” Johnson said.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Web site says regular physical activity can help decrease the chance for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, breast cancer and osteoporosis. Furthermore, daily physical activity can promote proper weight and healthy bones, muscles and joints.

There are many programs available through PedNet Coalition that help people make a transition from driving to participating in biking and walking more as transportation. For more information on the PedNet Coalition, please go to their Web site at

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