Commuter Profile: Dottie White from “Let’s Go Ride A Bike”

Today we’re proud to present Dottie White, one of the dynamic duo responsible for the excellent blog “Let’s Go Ride a Bike“. Dottie really knows how to blend style and function — and she and her blogging partner really make the rest of us look like bums!


How long have you been a bike commuter?

A year this May. I’ve cycled nearly every day since I started.

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

My commute is usually 14 miles roundtrip on the lakefront bike path, 11 miles if I take city streets the whole way. I started riding because it seemed like fun! I saw a lot of people riding in Chicago, plus Trisha (great friend and now co-blogger) had recently started commuting to work. At the same time, the el train stations were under a lot of construction, making my commute twice as long. And the weather was perfect! There’s no way I would have known where to start during Chicago’s arctic winter.


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

Freedom -The bike does wonders for a woman’s freedom and safety in the city. Freedom from waiting around for or packing into crowded trains and buses. I have been groped while waiting at a bus stop and I was not happy. Freedom to venture out alone at night without being so vulnerable. I used to drive my car to my night yoga classes even though the studio’s only a mile away because I did not feel safe walking by myself. Now I feel perfectly safe being in the street (away from people, bushes, alleys, etc.) and going fast.

Economics – My husband and I recently sold our only car, a Prius (he’s also a bike commuter). We’re now saving money that would otherwise have gone toward monthly payments, insurance, and taxes, plus we can make a small profit renting out our garage. I also save $80 a month not buying a transit pass. Most of my colleagues pay nearly $300 a month to park their cars in our office building downtown!

Health – I feel much healthier and happier now that I ride everyday. A guaranteed 1.5 – 2 hours of exercise daily is a big deal. I also do yoga, but mostly gave up running and pilates when I started biking and I’m in even better shape now. I have a huge sweet tooth (and deep dish pizza tooth, and red wine tooth, and Thai tooth, and Guinness tooth…) so it’s great that I can partake in these pleasures early and often while staying healthy.

Relationships – Half the fun of going on dates to the theatre or dinner with my husband is getting there and back on our bikes. I only wish we had more time to ride together.


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

I’m an attorney working at a law firm in downtown Chicago. I commute from the north side, near Wrigley Field. Chicago is a great city to cycle in (comparatively) and I make use of the lakefront bike trail and the many bike lanes all around town. While at work I park my bike in the city’s secure bike garage (complete with showers and lockers, though I don’t use them) across from my building. Being a lawyer means wearing a suit every day. I could wear suits on my bike but they’re not very comfortable and dry cleaning is expensive, so I took over an empty office across from the ladies’ room and keep all my suits and shoes in there – a nice walk-in closet. As a junior associate, my work days are always 10-12 hours. Sometimes colleagues ask if I ever get too tired to deal with bike commuting. Yeah, I get tired – of sitting around all day! I’m never too tired to ride my bike.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

Currently I have two bikes: an Azor Oma purchased from Dutch Bike Chicago and a vintage 1970’s Bridgestone Kabuki that someone threw out as trash. I had a Jamis Commuter, tragically stolen. I’m on the hunt for a third bike to use when I want to go faster or take really long rides.



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

The best is the day I rode into a Johnny Depp movie set for Public Enemies on my way home! I was about one mile from my condo, on my street, when I came upon a road closure. The police officer looked at me and said, “Oh you’ll be fine, go on through.? I thought maybe there had been a car collision. As I cycled on I saw a bunch of old-timey cars and then I saw Johnny Depp about ten yards away. He looked right at me, probably because I had on a neon pink shirt and a bunch of blinky lights. I stood there for a minute with a few other onlookers, and then took a detour through an alley to get home. Those are the days I wish I always had my camera!

Another noteworthy commute, which is funny in hindsight, is the morning I fell on ice. Before I purchased studded tires (and the reason I purchased studded tires!) I was riding on the lakefront trail and hit black ice. My bike completely slipped out from under me with no warning, going sideways to the left. With my seat suddenly gone, I imagine I hung in mid-air for a millisecond before hitting the ground on my butt. I was not injured and my first instinct was to look around and see if anyone had witnessed my embarrassing moment (no one had). I’m grateful that my bike did not slide right into Lake Michigan.

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

In the spring and summer people are surprised and somewhat impressed, commenting either on the health benefits or on staying safe. In the winter people act like I’m crazy. They simply cannot grasp why I would – or how I could – ride in the freezing cold, snow, and darkness. I’m a pretty mild-mannered and quiet person, so I think it confuses people and they’re not sure what to make of me.

My favorite reaction: After having dinner with a group of former classmates from law school recently, we were all standing by the door putting on our coats, gloves, hats and scarves. One saw me take my helmet out of my bag and she exclaimed loudly (in a swanky restaurant): “DOROTHY, YOU ARE AN ANIMAL! I can’t believe you rode your BIKE today! You are a BEAST!” Funny how she said it, in a shocked but positive way.

el overhead

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

I am a member of the Active Transportation Alliance (formerly the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation) and participate in their big events like Winter Bike to Work Day and the upcoming Bike the Drive. When I have the time and inclination, I participate in Chicago’s Critical Mass rides, which are great fun and raise awareness. I subscribe to
Momentum Magazine even though I could pick it up for free at the bike garage – that must count for something. And then there’s the blog Trisha and I write, hopefully being a positive voice for women commuting. The best advocacy any cyclist does, though, is simply getting out there and riding responsibly.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Ride safe and have fun! And, if you’re feeling good, wear cute shoes while doing it.

We’d really like to thank Dottie for sharing her experiences with us…check out “Let’s Go Ride a Bike” for great articles and photos and exciting urban commuting tales. Also, please stay tuned when we present part two of our “Let’s Go Ride a Bike” profile…Dottie’s blogging partner and friend Trisha Ping (later this week).


  1. Stuart M. March 30, 2009 5:17 am 

    I once lived in Chicago and later in Northbrook. Back in those days bicycling was considered “recreational” and I went on some long rides mainly into the suburbs on the weekends. There are quite a few nice bicycle trails in the Chicagoland area. My hat’s off to Dottie for commuting by bike every day.

  2. Trisha March 30, 2009 6:48 am 

    Yay Dot! Great pictures and profile. Of course, I’m biased. :)

  3. Elisa M March 30, 2009 6:56 am 

    Dottie is so classy and stylish on a bike…I am so Jealous (note the capital J!). Yeah, Let’s go Ride a Bike!
    Keep the ladies commuter profile coming!!!

  4. Mike March 30, 2009 7:29 am 

    Dottie and hubby should SO invest in any kind of second hand tandem and give it a go!

  5. Ghost Rider March 30, 2009 8:52 am 

    Did every0ne see Dottie and her husband all gussied up for an elegant affair on their blog? I agree with Mike — a black and chrome tandem with leather appointments would have gone perfectly with classy evening attire!

  6. Iron Man March 30, 2009 9:01 am 

    I’ll be forwarding this to a male friend of mine that claims his suit wearing occupation keeps him from riding. Way to shatter his crutch Dottie!

    I imagine cruising along the waterfront in Chicago has to be a great start to every day.

  7. Elizabeth March 30, 2009 11:30 am 

    hey hey… welcome to the! See you on the roads… 😉

  8. RL March 30, 2009 3:32 pm 

    I really dig your blue Mixte…I LOVE that style. The older the better. I have 2 vintage Mixte’s in the garage and my daughter rides a late 70’s Free Spirit Brittany (Mixte).


  9. Doohickie March 30, 2009 4:42 pm 


    (Oh, and the bikes are nice, too. ;- )

  10. Dottie March 30, 2009 6:26 pm 

    Howdy and hello!

    This profile thing is quite fun. Been “meeting” lots of new commuter folks today. Thanks, Jack, for putting this together. :)

  11. Joey March 30, 2009 6:34 pm 

    I lived in Andersonville on the North side 10 years ago. I owned a car and never drove it, just rode my bike. If I was smart I would’ve sold it (the car) to purchase another bike. I miss Chicago; it’s certainly not So Cal.

  12. meligrosa March 30, 2009 7:35 pm 

    yeeaaaa! i<3 that blog, and the beautiful stylish riders, of course!
    xoxo/ meli

  13. spiderleggreen March 30, 2009 8:04 pm 

    You’re a Beast! With a great blog. Ride on!

  14. Steve March 30, 2009 8:48 pm 

    Thanks for the inspiration. I would like to share this to more people in Fort Collins where the town is just 15 square miles or so and very bicycle friendly. I commute every day as well but can’t bare to sell the car(s), maybe someday.

  15. anna March 30, 2009 11:04 pm 

    I love what you say about bike commuting and lifestyle. To me, cycling is much more freedom than sitting in a car. I think it’s also a good think to get to know the weather better. Nowadays I always find it funny if I see geared-up-for-a-thunderstorm cyclists in a light rain while I’m riding in a skirt and a normal jacket. But it takes a while to figure out what is (not) needed for bike commuting. You definitely picked that up pretty fast ;-). Always happy to read your blog.

  16. Stuart M. March 31, 2009 3:04 am 

    I’m depressed. Tomorrow I start a new job. It is only a 5 minute walk from my house. My last job required I go to many different locations throughout the city. The ones I couldn’t walk to, I rode my bicycle to. I will miss my daily bike/walking commute. I’ll probably get fat.

  17. dman March 31, 2009 8:30 am 

    Stuart – you’re lucky. I start a new job in two weeks that’s 42 miles away. I wont be commuting by bike anymore. I will however, be carpooling with two other guys.

  18. Ghost Rider March 31, 2009 9:43 am 

    Well, I hope that both of you will continue visiting our little site…or if not, that you can find “” and “” sites to while away your work hours!

  19. Nord March 31, 2009 12:31 pm 

    Give it up for lawyers on bikes! Oh yeah, and give it up for law firms with showers! Unless Dottie’s doesn’t have one, in which case, give it up for law firms that need to renovate!

  20. dman March 31, 2009 2:26 pm 

    Oh I will. I haven’t been on a bike commute in two months ’cause I’ve been traveling for work. Still check out the site, look forward to the day I can commute by bike again. The good thing about the new job – we work 4 10’s. Three day weekends FTW!! I’ll be spending LOTS of time on my mtn bike.

  21. Jacob March 31, 2009 3:36 pm 

    I bet the place where you hit black ice was just south of Fullerton, I have gone butt sledding there before, and nearly lost my bike to the arctic waters. As for a fast bike, you should get a classic geometry titanium (pre-1996) Merlin, Moots, or other well built beauty. They never rust, they are smooth like butter, and the naked matte titanium is beautiful. I would recommend either of the most common alloys, in a small frame I would probably choose the narrower tube diameter.

  22. Dottie March 31, 2009 6:22 pm 

    Jacob – Close, just south of Oak Street. I’ve purchased my third bike and it is on its way through UPS as we type: a Rivendell Betty Foy! Thanks for the tip though, the bike you describe sounds lovely.

  23. Jacob March 31, 2009 8:28 pm 

    Oak street is a death trap when the water washes up and freezes. I like the combination of timing the rush to get through without being swept off by a wave, and trying to keep perfect form and pedal stroke while riding on slanted smooth wet ice. Rivendell is legendary for sweetness as well. =) Enjoy your riding

  24. Stuart M. March 31, 2009 10:57 pm 

    Hey dman, good luck with the new job. Today was my first day on my new job. I thought they would have everything set up for me when I got there, you know passwords, copier cards, internet connection, etc. I wanted to hit the ground running! But no, none of these petty, but necessary things were ready. Instead I spent the whole day cleaning my filthy office. Oh well, the view is real nice. Oh no, I forgot to clean the windows! I guess that’s tomorrow’s project. I will still look into everyday though.

  25. Sharon October 12, 2009 10:31 am 

    I live in Chicago as well and have been commuting via bicycle for four years now from the Lakeview area! It is wonderful! However, I don’t ride in from about the middle of December through late March. It’s not the cold so much as ice/snow. During those months I go to a gym so I can keep in shape for the “season”.

  26. Nick December 28, 2009 7:35 pm 

    Thanks for the blog and for the inspiration. I communte from Edgewater to Wabash and Jackson, mostly on the lakefront.

    Jacob mentions Oak Street as a tough spot in the winter. Sometimes I have had to walk my bike for a bit when the “Oak Street elbow” is covered with ice.
    Stay healthy and keep on biking!

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  28. RL Policar March 1, 2013 8:14 am 


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