Berkeley Lab

NERSC’s Annette Greiner Cycles for Her Love of the Bike

May is National Bike Month, a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to give biking a try. We’ll be highlighting Berkeley Lab employees who bike to work this month, sharing their perspectives and advice.

— By Keri Troutman

For Annette Greiner, who has biked to work in Ann Arbor, Chicago, San Francisco, and Berkeley and crossed the continent on two wheels, part of her daily commute is getting into a driver’s mindset. “I’m always thinking ahead about a driver’s point of view and how visible I am to them,” she says.

Years of cycling has made this mode of thinking second nature to Greiner. Still, Greiner says her number-one reason for cycling to work every day is that it’s fun. “Any day that I bicycle I feel like I can look back at my morning and think ‘I’ve already done something more interesting than just getting in my car,’” says Greiner.

It helps that Greiner, a Web Application Developer at NERSC, loves her bike a lot more than her car, but regardless she sees cycling as a low-stress, high payoff commute. Greiner likes to mix up her route from her West Berkeley home up to Wang Hall. Some days she bikes to campus first (Greiner is a faculty member at UC Berkeley’s School of Information); other days she puts her bike on a Lab shuttle; but more often she does her “morning biathlon”—she bikes up to UC Berkeley’s Cory Hall, parks her bike, and then walks up the stairs to the Lab.

When cycling around the Lab, Greiner admits that the temptation to speed down the hills is difficult to resist. But she says she realizes it’s also one of the more dangerous features of the Berkeley Lab and Berkeley hills cycling terrain. Greiner advises any cyclist going down a big downhill for the first time to try at least one run at a very slow speed. “Then you get a chance to see where potholes and road imperfections are, which are not things you notice with enough time to react when you’re just zooming down,” she adds.

Stop signs and intersections are Greiner’s other top cycling hazard zones. The temptation to run through stop signs gets a lot of cyclists into dangerous situations, she says. And she notes intersections can be really tricky, especially when not everyone understands one another’s intentions.

“At intersections in Berkeley especially, I’ve noticed that drivers will often stop for me when I don’t have the right of way, which can actually create problems for me as a cyclist. Often there are vehicles in other lanes that I have to wait for anyway. I end up wondering when it’s safe to go, since the stopped driver might change their mind any time.—I think it’s so much easier and safer when everyone just follows the rules.”