Meet Gabriel Tinnaro of St. Petersburg, Florida…where they’re really turning up the heat on making the city bicycle-friendly:
How long have you been a bike commuter?
I’ve commuted by bike (and occasionally by skateboard) on and off since 1989 to various jobs, but I’ve only been a 5-day-a-week guy for the last two years. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to use the skateboard.
Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
Have bike, love bike, ride when I can. I’m very proud that it helps the environment, I’m glad that it saves us money, but I’d be a liar if I said that my primary motivation was more than just “I love it”. Since the ride to work is a comically short 2.7 miles, I put on more miles on the way home.
How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?
Well, it enabled us to sell one of our two cars, so that’s something. But the big thing is that it lifts my spirits – I get a little time to play outside every day, and that’s a big deal for me. The next step is to ride more places, for more utilitarian trips.
What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?
I’m a “Swiss Army Web Nerd” (Web Development/Design/Marketing) at our local children’s hospital in my hometown, sunny St. Petersburg, FL. No, really, an IT guy Bike Commuter. Seriously.
What kind(s) of bike do you have?
A Specialized Sirrus Sport Aluminum, with Disc Brakes and my beloved Banjo Brothers Panniers. It’s a hoss. I love it, but I just bought an ancient GT Palomar in my desire to get back to off-roading. We really can’t call it “Mountain Biking” in Florida, but there are some wicked trails here.
Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
I do get lectured by the occasional driver who doesn’t think I deserve the right-of-way — I even got yelled at by the dude driving “The Friendly Carpet Cleaner” van for having the hubris to ride through a green light. But my favorite is this one: I had a lady scare the pants off of me by using the parking lane to fly past me on the right the other day, and then apologize while chatting on her phone. When I rolled up to her at the light and knocked on her window, she was very defensive and pissed- “I ALREADY SAID I’M SORRY!!”
Being sure to be as contrite as possible, I told her “I’m not mad – I just wanted to let you know that you really scared the hell out of me. That’s really really dangerous. Please don’t do that.” I hope it made an impact, and that I wasn’t taken as condescending. But I want drivers to see PEOPLE on the road when they see bikes, not just obstacles.
What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
Mostly I get people asking “What do you do when it rains?” because here in Florida we get wild, torrential rains. My usual reply is “I get wet.”
I keep a clean towel in my office, and when it rains on the way IN to work, I end up cleaner than when it doesn’t!
How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?
I try to attend events when I can, but other priorities compete, and I’m not often there. There are alot of great groups in the area that I should participate in!
Anything else that you want to share with us?
I’m hoping to convert my 5, 7, and 3 year olds to 5-day bike commuters – my wife frequently takes them to school all on bikes already last year. Easy for ME to say,since I don’t have to DO it. For such a lovely and rideable town, there aren’t many kids riding to school, and I remember how much I loved it when I was in elementary school.
Also, MAJOR props to you folks for helping to build a bicycle commuter COMMUNITY online. I love the blog. It helps something that feels like a beloved but solitary action feel like a part of something much bigger.
We’d like to thank Gabriel for the kind words and for sharing his profile and photos with us. We’re proud to be able to help build a community of fellow bike commuters — after all, we’re all in this together, right?