Business Center

Commuter Highlight: Biking to Work with Lily Lizarraga

By: Sydney Lund, Transportation Demand Management Intern

September 18, 2019

Here at the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), we are working to enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices. Many CDOT employees are serving as role models for their commitment to commuting to work by walking, biking, taking transit, or carpooling.

Lily is standing next to the public use bike racks and bike fix-it station located at the HQ/R1 building.

This week's commuter highlight is Lily Lizarrage!

Lily Lizarraga is the Office of Innovative Mobility’s Project Coordinator and works at CDOT’s Headquarters in Denver. She commutes to work by biking on the bike paths. Read below for an interview with Lily where she talks about her bike commute and gives some tips about commuting by bike.

How do you commute to work?

It depends on what I have to do during the day. Recently, I have been riding my bike. Sometimes, I will drive to work or take transit. I tend to bike the most because it is my prefered way to commute and biking is convenient for me.

How long does your commute usually take you?

If I am on my bicycle, the commute takes about 30 minutes to get to work, which is about the same time as driving. On the way back home, cycling takes about 45 minutes because it is a little bit more uphill. I do not take transit as much because it tends to be about an hour of travel time for me.

When it is raining or snowing, how do you commute to work?

When it is raining or snowing I would most likely drive. I will probably ride my bike until mid fall, because that is when it can be more dangerous to be biking on the road with ice.

The Bike fix-it station offers bike commuters an option to pump up their tires and use the bike tools free of charge.

Why do you prefer to commute by biking instead of driving?

I think biking is a good way to start off the day and it helps me clear my mind. I am not a big fan of driving. With driving you start your day kind of rushed, sit in traffic, and then come to work and sit. When you’re bicycling, you are exercising and you get to spend time outdoors. I take the Cherry Creek to the South Platte bike trails, which is very pretty and relaxing. When I bike, it gives me time to get myself ready for the day. My exercise is a part of my commute, which helps me unwind. While I am biking I am not doing anything else -- I am not on my phone or reading, I am just biking. I think having that time biking during my commute is good for my mental and physical health.

How did you decide on the path that you ride?

Being from Denver I already knew where the trail was located. When I was relocated to the CDOT HQ/R1 facility, I noticed that we were right by the path. I live about six or seven blocks from the path and then the path leads me right to work. That is really important for me because I do not do a lot of road biking anymore because I had an accident on my bike. Therefore, I am pretty cautious of other cars. It is important for me to be on a protected bike path.

What are some tips that you have to other employees regarding commuting by bike or public transit?

I think the great thing about the HQ/R1 location is that we are based right off of the South Platte bike trail. There are many ways to commute into work. I know some people who come in through Union Station and bring their bike on the bus. The South Platte and Cherry Creek trail goes through many of Denver’s neighborhoods, which makes biking the path more accessible.

I would suggest starting to commute by bike one or two days a week, especially if you are not an avid cyclist. You could also start with biking one day a week and then take transit another day, especially because we are conveniently located next to transit stations and we have our EcoPasses from CDOT. I would suggest starting slow because it is hard to change your lifestyle from one day to the next. Another option is to take your bike on the bus and bike halfway and bus the other half. People could even drive to the trail and bike from there.

What are some obstacles that you face when commuting to work by walking or light rail and how have you overcome these obstacles?

When it is raining or snowing it can be pretty hard to bike. One thing I learned last year was when it rains a lot, the path will tend to flood. I used to ride my bike in my work clothes. One time I remember the path had flooded which got me soaked while I was wearing my work clothes. I have learned to bring a change of clothes and I will change in the locker room.

When the weather gets bad, the train or bus can be a great option, if you time the train right. That way you are not putting yourself at risk driving a car on the highway or roads, which can be dangerous. Another obstacle with biking is that sometimes biking can take more time. However, I think that integrating exercise into your commute and daily life can help you to be more productive at work.

On the weekends, how do you get around?

One of my favorite things to do in Denver on the weekends is take the light rail to downtown and walk around. I am an urban planner, so I just love walking in the city. I also like riding my bicycle on the weekend too. I do also drive depending on where I need to go.

If you could be any mode of transportation, which would you be?

I like bicycles, but they are not accessible to everyone. So I would probably be a train because it is easily accessible by everyone. I think the cool thing about trains is that you get to see the scenery and different unknown places because trains go to different isolated areas.

I just went on a trip to California with my children and we took the Amtrak train. It took 26 hours from Denver, because we had to take a bus from here to New Mexico. We had seats and a room to sleep. It was a fun trip and my kids really enjoyed it.

Interested in commuting to work by walking, biking, or taking transit? Check out these biking and transit resources designed to help you commute to work.

Check out our past commuter highlight interviews here.

Do you commute to work by means other than driving alone? If so, we would like to highlight you! Send an email to Sydney Lund to be highlighted as a part of our commuter highlights series.