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: