Commuter Profile: Gabriel Tinnaro

Meet Gabriel Tinnaro of St. Petersburg, Florida…where they’re really turning up the heat on making the city bicycle-friendly:

Gabriel

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.

crescent lake

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.

sirrus

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.

church

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!

commute

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?


11 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider September 21, 2008 7:08 pm 

    Gabriel, hopefully we’ll see you at the Bicycle Bash this year…not too far from where you work and live (Vinoy Park).

  2. Gabriel September 22, 2008 5:51 am 

    Yep, I look forward to being there!

  3. Ghost Rider September 22, 2008 7:19 am 

    I had a WordPress glitch on my end…it published a rough draft of this profile, so now we’ve got pictures and editor’s comments. Sorry about that, everyone.

  4. RL Policar September 22, 2008 7:25 am 

    Nice Bag!

    Thanks for the compliments!

  5. mjb September 22, 2008 10:12 am 

    Hmm..St. Pete is a bicycle friendly town? Maybe I should check it out…

  6. Iron Man September 22, 2008 10:38 am 

    The “love to ride” thing has to be the primary motivator. I can’t imagine there being any other reason for a person to continue to bike commute for more than six months (and that’s being generous IMO) unless that person really enjoys it. I have a newborn and a four year old. Bike commuting better be fun because I am getting home at 5:30 needing a shower and clothing change. I do get dinner with the family, but I get about an hour with the baby after and maybe two with the four year old before they go to bed. Driving would give me another hour to spend with my little guys.

    Reading that sounds like I’m in a bad mood. I’m not, but as the Fall approaches and Winter as well, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Just why am I riding if I didn’t enjoy it?

  7. Ghost Rider September 22, 2008 10:42 am 

    Hell yes it is…St. Pete rocks in terms of bike-friendliness (at least in Florida terms) — even recognized by the LAB for their efforts. The Pinellas Trail is awesome, bike lanes and city-wide infrastructure is growing rapidly, and the city sponsors quite a few great bike events (Share the Road Ride, Bicycle Bash by the Bay, etc.).

  8. Gabriel September 22, 2008 9:01 pm 

    RL – I noticed your fine taste in panniers, too. Those BBs are tough… and they carry a 12-pack with plenty of room to spare!

    St. pete has come a long way as a bike (and pedestrian) friendly town, and if the plans come to reality, eventually you’ll be able to ride a trail around the entire county.

    As far as the kids, Iron Man, I do feel your pain — I have 3 little ones and if I knocked off a few miles, I’d be home sooner. Sometimes I just cut straight home. But… when I get home, I’m usually happy, sweaty, I-just-rode-my-bike dad, which has a way of improving my disposition. Keep that in the equation, too!

  9. Iron Man September 23, 2008 6:09 am 

    Thanks for the encouragement Gabriel. I’m of the same mind as you and have been riding year round for a while now. So I guess I’ve managed to come to grips with the hassle. I feel all those things you mentioned, plus I think I’m setting an example for my kids that they should be active and not total couch potatoes.

  10. Ghost Rider September 23, 2008 8:11 am 

    Whatever extra hassle bike commuting requires (and really…it’s not a lot) totally pays off in peace of mind, health and money savings. I miss my son’s bedtime every night that I work, but I’d still miss it if I drove a car. When I do make it home early, he always marvels at how sweaty yet happy I am!

    And yes — do not discount the example you’re setting for your children: it IS possible to be car-free or car-lite, and it is important to share a love of physical activity so those kids don’t turn into video-game-playing zombies.

  11. Pages tagged "mountain bicycling" September 26, 2008 11:04 pm 

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