Freedom, play or a more practical commute — bicycling is experiencing a boom.

By Mary-Margaret Dwyer ’20

Sometimes finding joy is as simple as riding a bike. A sense of independence can come from exploring on two wheels, or an endor-phin rush from cruising down a steep hill.

That joy is exactly what Shana Lydon ’98 needs. “Being able to get out on your bike, pedal and have that sense of freedom is what I like the most,” says Lydon, an avid street and off-road bicyclist. “You can go so many different places and get a different perspective, and it’s just fun.”

Lydon fell in love with biking after she purchased a bike at Rochester’s Full Moon Vista in 2005. She has since become part-owner and manager of the full-service sales and bicycle repair shop. Biking has been popular for transportation — and play — since the 1890s. Susan B. Anthony wrote about how bicycles gave women new freedoms, before many women drove cars and before they could vote. She penned: “I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat.”

Bicycles have boomed again recently, as people look for outdoor activities or new methods of commuting during the coronavirus pandemic. San Francisco and other cities closed some streets to cars, allowing bicycles only. Bike sales soared, including at Full Moon, says Lydon. Customers are older, younger, enthusiasts, commuters and everyone in between.

“It was a refreshing, positive effect of a negative situation,” says Lydon. “The pandemic was the nudge that a lot of people needed to say, ‘Let’s get out our bikes.’”

Stuart Strickland ’81 has chosen two wheels —  and sometimes one — for decades. During his student years, he was known around campus for riding a unicycle. Later, he commuted by bicycle for some 17 miles one-way to his job at PNC Bank in Pittsburgh, where he worked as an application developer. Now working remotely, he has rekindled his love for unicycle riding. One- and two-wheeled traveling, Strickland says, “has kept me young. I’m 61, and I keep getting mistaken for being a lot younger than I am.”

Students are keeping the tradition of bikes on campus — and enjoying zooming down the affectionately called “cardiac hill” from Blake Hall to Mary Jemison Dining Hall.

Biking is the go-to method of getting around for Jovahn Roumell ’22. But for him, it’s also more than that. “Why wait on a bus when I know I can get back at my own pace?” he says. “Biking is an extension of myself and will.”

Learn more about the bike boom and choosing one for you: