Professor bikes for life

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By Tom Riley, Contributor

For one 8-year-old Omaha girl, biking is the best form of transportation, and the best for the environment.  Meet Ella Eikenberry, daughter of Angela Eikenberry, a UNO associate professor in Public Administration.
Professor Eikenberry is passing down the idea of biking as the best way of transportation to her daughter.
“It’s so much simpler biking to campus.” Eikenberry said.
Eikenberry said she hopes her daughter enjoys biking as much as she does.
 “She understands that when you drive a car, and turn on electricity, you’re using energy and that there’s limited resources available,” she said.
For Eikenberry, her love of biking began more than 20 years ago as an undergraduate student at UNO. She could not afford to have a car, so she started biking and riding the bus to destinations. When she met the man who would become her future husband, they bonded over a love of biking.
“We kind of reinforce each other,” Eikenberry said.
The only time it wasn’t easy to bike everywhere was when Eikenberry had her daughter in 2004. As her daughter got older, Eikenberry started attaching a tag along to her bike. It allows her to be able to go longer distances with her daughter.
The Eikenberrys are a one-car family. Eikenberry bikes to campus every day she can. At times, her husband will need the car for a meeting, or maybe one of them takes Ella to school due to bad weather. It works for their family though. For the Eikenberrys, the car is not the number one form of transportation. It’s not just something the family does during warm months. Three years ago, Eikenberry began biking throughout the winter.
“It’s liberating,” Eikenberry said.
Eikenberry is happy to see Omaha becoming more bike friendly, pointing to the new biking lane on Leavenworth Street. Some Omaha biking enthusiasts would love to see Omaha become the Portland of the Midwest. Eikenberry said if biking is incorporated into our culture, it will become a more popular form of transportation. Investing in UNO is essential to make biking more popular, she said. She would like to see students develop behaviors that use less energy getting to and from campus.
For Eikenberry, biking gives her more than just exercise and a good feeling about helping the environment. When she bikes with her daughter, they have quality time.
“She’ll tell me things or say things if we weren’t together biking if there would have been time or a chance for her to tell me,” Eikenberry said
Biking is a great way for her family to bond with one another. She said more in depth conversations happen while biking as opposed to driving.
Eikenberry also said Omaha has a great biking community, but not everyone is necessarily a fanatic about it. A lot of people have a good time biking. Bike enthusiasts can choose to take part in several events such as, the Taco Ride, the Owl Ride, and even a Christmas Holiday Ride. Bikers who participate in these events help to reinforce each other.
Riding her bike is an integral part Professor Eikenberry’s lifestyle. There are times when even her daughter reminds her, “Do we really need to drive there?”

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