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Woman says riding bike gives her independence, helps environment

It’s never too late to do a little bit to save our planet.

That’s Spring Valley resident Janet Snyder’s philosophy. The 70-year-old “Army widow” rides her bicycle everywhere.

“It’s a lifestyle choice that isn’t for everyone,” she said. “But it makes me happy. I do it for me. I do it to try and do my part for the environment, too, but I also like being independent, and staying in shape lends itself to that goal.”

Snyder said she has been an avid cyclist for most of her adult life, enjoying quiet and fun-filled bike rides with her husband Tom, who died in October.

“Those are some of my best memories,” she said.

The Snyders traveled across the country for more than 10 years in a recreational vehicle, hauling their twin bikes behind them.

“Most people haul cars,” she said. “We had our bikes in tow, always.”

Snyder said she has always enjoyed being outside in the fresh air and encourages children to take up what she describes as a healthy habit.

Not owning a car is a choice and one she is very happy with, she added.

“I ride my bike to get groceries, to see friends and anyplace else I may need to go,” she said.

Snyder said one of the challenges she faces while using her preferred mode of transportation is dealing with surly pedestrians and motorists.

“There are people who don’t want you riding on the sidewalk; then there are those who don’t want you riding in the street,” she said. “Some are more vocal than others. I ride on the sidewalk when possible because I don’t like the idea of being run over by a car.”

Snyder said she has been environmentally conscious since the 1970s, when Tom was stationed in Germany, and the pair rode a tandem bicycle to formal parties just to make a statement.

“Those were good times,” she said.

Snyder said that even carpooling puts pollution into the air.

“Take a bike once or twice per week,” she said. “Start small, but start. That’s the important thing.”

Bike riding occasionally can be a dangerous pastime, according to Snyder, who said she was once hit by a car when a woman making a right turn on South Jones Boulevard didn’t see her in the crosswalk.

“I wasn’t injured, but that goes to show how disconnected we are,” she said. “Motorists don’t even take the time to make sure crosswalks are clear before they make a turn.”

Snyder said for now her health is holding up, for which she credits her love for cycling .

“I don’t ever want to be one of those old people in scooters if I can help it,” she said. “I understand there’s a point where you can’t. But I want to maintain this as long as I can.”

Snyder said a lot of people over 55 don’t believe they can start something new and may be afraid to take on something like cycling.

“I always tell people that it is never too late to start doing your part,” she said. “You’re not just helping the environment, but you’re helping your own survival. You will feel better and look better because you are building your own stamina and health, which leads to independence. For senior citizens, that’s a big thing. It should be for anyone.”

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Llewellyn at allewellyn@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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