Commuter Profile: Paul Emerson

From Tempe AZ, Paul Emerson works in IT (surprised?) at ASU. Paul survived getting hit by a car, here’s his Bike Commuter Profile:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Seriously dedicated to commuting for about 15 years now.

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?

In my college years I was riding my bike to school, and then I was working at school. I really do not like to be anywhere without a bike, I feel trapped without the instant mobility. My current commute is only 6 miles round trip.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

With the money I save on parking and gas I could buy a new bike every year (that is what I tell the wife anyway). I enjoy the health benefits, two mini-workouts every day. The environmental and social aspects are also appealing. There is a little bragging now that gas prices are so high. My wife walks to work so we rarely fill up and I only drive on the weekends to take the family out and about.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?

I work in IT at Arizona State University. ASU is very bike friendly and there are nice bike lockers near my office. Tempe is a great place to commute as I can ride year round, although the heat in the summer is decidedly unpleasant. On the few days it does rain I love to ride because it is nice to experience something different than sunny, dry and hot.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I love steel bikes and the Surly brand. My main commuter is a SS/fixed Cross-Check. I have an old Surly 1×1 that is now a 9 speed 69er xtracycle, which is mostly for fun and occasional trips to the store, sometimes I take it to work if I need to haul anything. My mountain bike is a rigid SS Karate Monkey 29r. I am looking at getting a Surly Long Haul Trucker for commuting and longer rides.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?

An interesting but sad story is when I was hit by a car that ran a red light a few years ago. I broke my back and ruptured my spleen which was subsequently removed. Shattered the middle finger on my left hand that still has a plate and screws. Maybe a concussion, I don’t remember the details! I was at home recovering for weeks. I still ride through that intersection every day. Three lessons to be learned from that: 1) always let the cars enter the intersection first when the light turns green 2) always wear a helmet 3) avoid getting hit by uninsured, unemployed drivers!

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?

They say, “I wish I could do that, but I live so far away.” or “Isn’t that dangerous? You need to be careful.” Surprisingly, after 8 years of working with the same people they still say, “Oh, did you ride today?” or “Isn’t it too hot to ride?”

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?

I advocate bike commuting to everyone at work who lives within biking distance. I used to be on the City of Tempe Bicycle Committee that was then rolled into the Tempe Transportation Commission. It was a lesson in governmental procedure that was very interesting. Tempe really has its act together regarding bike lanes and transportation and I am proud to live here. We have the annual Tour de Tempe fun ride in October which shouldn’t be missed.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I would just hope all bikers remember that every time they take to the road they represent all of us, and should know and obey the rules of the road, even if the motorists seldom do. Also, keep the rubber side down!

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves! We are grateful to Paul for sharing his story and pictures. We are still receiving Commuter Profiles but we haven’t received an article for a while. If you have a rant, review or a How To, email it to us at:


  1. Ghost Rider

    Spleen-free commuters REPRESENT! It makes us lighter and faster, Paul!

    My, that is quite a collection of Surlys you’ve got there…very nice.

    If I had to get a plate installed in my middle finger, I think I’d have to ask the surgeon to permanently fuse it into the “one finger salute” mode…of course, that might make gripping the handlebars problematic. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks for the great profile. Tempe is “off the radar” in terms of its reputation as a bike-friendly community, but it sounds like they’ve got their act together.

  2. Lance

    This shows the steely resolve of bike commuters!

    Glad you made it through “alright” Paul. As a matter of fact 3/4 of my entire high school soccer team drove uninsured. Coincidentally(or not) they were all immigrants.

    LOTS of illegal immigrants/drivers in the Southern States. Careful out there everyone.

  3. The Punisher

    Hey Ghost Rider, lay of the “IT” cracks (i.e. “surprise”). We live sedentary lives so biking is especially appealing to us! ;-0

    Paul it was very interesting reading your story. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Iron Man

    Punisher, I believe the “surprise” was in reference to how many IT guys have contributed to profiles, not any slight to IT guys. Seeing how Paul looks more like a special ops soldier than your standard IT guy (OK that was a crack), I doubt Ghost would be trying to start something.

  5. Ghost Rider

    No crack…except if you’re one of those Firefox groupies ;)…then the gloves are OFF! By the way, I’m not really responsible for this particular article…our man Moe is the “surprise” editor of this one (and he, too, is in IT).

    It’s just funny that an overwhelming number of our commuter profiles are from folks in the IT sector (even myself, after a fashion — I sit in front of a computer all day helping other people navigate their way through the Intertubes).

  6. The Punisher

    LOL. BTW everyone Ghost Rider is my neighbor! Sorry Jack, I know how you love us IT/Bike commuters.

  7. Palm Beach Bike Tours

    IT people are perfect candidates for bike commuting: they are already ostracized freaks with personal hygiene problems so adding a bicycle to to mix could not possibly lower their social standing.

    (I am, of couse, kidding. Lower is always possible.)

    —Matt, IT Guy

  8. Quinn

    That’s the 2nd “Xtra Monkey” that I have seen in a week, kool idea!

  9. Paul

    My guess is people who subscribe to a feed about bikes might happen to know one or two thing about technology. Hence the IT slant here.

  10. Paul


    Apparently I do not know about typing and spell checking.

  11. Ghost Rider

    I like Matt’s reasoning better πŸ˜‰

  12. Iron Man

    IT guys are left brained numbers guys. Bike commuting is just practical and easy math, so they do it. The lack of athleticism as a youth is generally what holds them back in making the jump to bike commuter.

  13. Marrock

    Dunno about the whole IT thing…

    I used to work in a shop where we took the machines that go “ping” and make them go “ping” when they stopped going “ping”.

    Now I’m just professionally unemployed…

    I just can’t make myself lie when someone asks me for my honest opinion, even when it’s the shop’s owner.

  14. RL

    I’m the IT guy for my work. My official title is….ready for this….”IT GUY.” Yup the Prez has that for my title. But I also do the web marketing for them. Oh and I’m a Bike Commuter.

  15. RL

    Whoa…”ostracized freaks with personal hygiene problems” I resent that comment, Moe may resemble it…jk!

  16. Stuart M.

    I had one major accident on my bike while commuting, messed up my left rotator cuff and it still hurts after two years. What happened? I put my schoolbag on my rear rack with just that springloaded clamp thing to hold it in place. The bag had a tendency to fall off. I got paranoid and would often look back while riding to make sure it was still there. I did that one too many times and didn’t notice I had driven into a bus stop cut-out. By the time I looked forward again, it was too late, I fell sideways over the curb and the sidewalk came up to “greet” me. I thought I only had some bruises, but the shoulder problem developed within a few days. What did I learn from this experience. Stuart, stop being such a cheapskate and buy some $1.00 bungee tie ropes!

  17. Randy Kinkel

    Nice bikes! I have the same length Tempe Commute, but I work at Rio Salado College. I would be interested to know which intersection you had your accident in. sorry you got hit…glad you made it out relatively OK…

  18. Paul


    I was northbound on College ave. The driver was heading eastbound on Broadway.

  19. Randy Kinkel

    yikes. I ride along Broadway for a portion of my route. people drive crazy/fast on it.

  20. Pingback: Tempe Bicycle Action Group » Blog Archive » Tempe Bike Commuter Profiled

  21. Elizabeth

    I may be visiting Scottsdale, AZ, in September. Any suggestions for a place where I could rent a bike? Any good rides/routes? I usually enjoy longer invitational rides; it’d be fun to get out and enjoy the great AZ outdoors… hopefully not too steamy. πŸ˜‰

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