Commuter Profile: Holland MacFallister

Here’s our latest profile, coming to you from the mean streets of Los Angeles, California. As always, if you’d like to be profiled on our site, please drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com or info[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.

Name: Holland MacFallister

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Well, I guess in my case that would be a scooter commuter. I got my first footbike about 4 ½ years ago and I’ve been rolling ever since.
Holland Macallister

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?
Up until recent budget cuts, I taught an adult ed evening class for our public school system here in Los Angeles and was a part time actor. Since the cuts, it’s acting all the way.
Holland Macallister

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is your commute?
My scooter is my exercise, my entertainment, and my car. It’s the only source of transportation I own and is almost always some part of my trip either alone or in consort with bus or subway – yes, L.A. does have a little subway system!
Holland Macallister
The last school I was teaching at was a hilly 3.5 miles away. I always rode to school, but if I was tired after a night of teaching, I would take it on the subway which left me with a relaxing downhill mile ride home from my subway stop.

My auditions are mostly in Hollywood, Santa Monica, or the San Fernando Valley. In Hollywood, footbike only; to Santa Monica, bus followed by footbike; to the Valley, scoot to the subway/ride the subway/scoot to final destination.

The last project I appeared in shot at three different locations in nearby Pasadena. The first day a friend drove me there in the morning, but it was a pain in the neck getting home. The next two days I took back my independence and did the scooter/train combo.


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

It’s been great for my health – the first time in my life I’ve found an exercise I don’t even think of as exercise and that has agreed with my body over a long period of time.

In terms of lifestyle, riding a scooter has given me freedom. I quit driving in ‘92 and I’m fond of saying the world is now a safer place for everyone. I spent most of the 90s in New York where driving is neither expected nor required, but when I returned to Los Angeles in 2001 I found myself at the mercy of public transportation. Long waits. Unreliable schedules. Lack of service at night. Sardine packed buses on Sundays. I enjoyed riding a bike for a while, but wasn’t confident on the streets, felt a little out of place on the sidewalks (although it is legal in most of Los Angeles city), and had recurring knee pain. When I read about scooters online, I was intrigued and decided to try one out for some short routes I traveled regularly. Before I knew it, it became my main source of transportation and the distances I was comfortable going continued to increase (and still does).
Holland Macfallister


What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have three scooters. My current ride is a beautiful purple Footbike Track (front tire 700C/rear tire 18″). My previous scooter was a Kickbike Freeride (20″ front/12.5″ rear) and my first scooter was a Mibo folder (12.5″/12.5″). I’ve loved them all but seem to be a serial monogamist when it comes to scooters and these days am exclusively on The Purple Beast.
Holland Macfallister

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

Riding a scooter is like pushing a baby stroller or having a dog – strangers talk to you. Examples: “I love your…your…your…thing! I don’t know what to call it!” “Look, Mommy! A scooterbike!” “Do you change legs?” “Where did you get it?” “How much do they cost?” “Where’s the motor?” I AM the motor!

Spending so much time out and about not in a car really strengthens my connection to my community. I recently had a night that pretty much sums up all that I love about scooting around town. I rode a few miles to have dinner with a couple of friends. On my way home, a movie is getting out, so I’m walking the bike and a guy coming out of the theatre says, “That’s a new scooter, isn’t it? That’s not the one you were riding before.” He stops to admire the scooter, figuring out how he’d add a suspension fork to make it more like his mountain bike (it could be done), lifts it, and expresses surprise at how light it is (it’s aluminum). About a mile later I’m waiting at a light and a bicyclist comes up behind me and says, “You’re serious about that thing, aren’t you?” I have no idea what he’s talking about. He says he saw me ahead of him and thought, “Well, I’m going to pass this guy in a moment,” but he was behind me for a couple of blocks and didn’t catch up till the light. Maybe I’m faster than I think! We chat for a bit and continue up the block together and pass another guy on a bike who calls for me to stop. It turns out we were in the same episode of a show and he recognized me even though we didn’t have any scenes together and had never met. Now if we had both been in cars instead of on a bike and a scooter, we would never have made the connection.

My footbike has given me a chance to interact with so many great people. I get approached while riding, while waiting at stop lights, and even in grocery stores by folks who saw me on their way in. And, this is a first, tomorrow I’m going for a ride at the beach with out-of-towners I met – thanks to the Purple Beast – in the parking lot at Trader Joe’s! I don’t want to make it sound like something happens every time I leave the house. Most of the time, I just go to an audition or pick up some kale and a can of beans and come home and that’s that.

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

Well in Los Angeles people are just amazed that anyone gets around without a car period. People are particularly impressed when you ride when the temperature is above or below 72 degrees. I had a dentist appointment on a particularly hot day and he asked what I did about getting around in this brutal weather. I replied, “I get hot.”

Some are curious how I manage my grocery shopping. Well, I go to the store more frequently, I have a basket, and I bow before the man or woman who invented the bungee cord. With my basket piled high, I sometimes think I must look like a character straight out of Dr. Seuss!


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

Not currently, but hope to get back to it. I was a member of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition for a while and have ridden twice on their annual River Ride fund raiser – once on a bike and another year a shorter route on a scooter.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

People often ask why a scooter instead of a bike. First, let me state I love bicycles. I think they’re sleek, elegant, and extremely efficient and for going longer distances on human power, they can’t be beat. Actually, my enthusiasm for the footbike has fostered a deeper appreciation of all human powered modalities from bicycles to skateboards to rollerblades.

The appeal of a scooter for me is multi-faceted. It’s easier on my knees (when I have pain, recovery is pretty quick). As a full-body exercise, it’s helped my back a lot – every
time you kick, your body pushes forward and gives your lower back a nice little stretch. It’s the right speed for me. Slower than a bicycle, faster than walking. (I should mention there are competitive enthusiasts who kick these things at speeds for which I’d need bionic implants to achieve.) While more and more I ride on side streets and our increasing network of bike lines, I still do the majority of my riding on sidewalks and a scooter blends beautifully there. I can step on and off seamlessly to accommodate pedestrian traffic or just out of courtesy when I think I might make a frailer person uncomfortable. Alright, I have inadvertently surprised a few people on the sidewalk when I neglected to ring my bell or they didn’t hear it and I have had a couple of people who thought I didn’t belong there (I’m legal and by definition am considered “pedestrian”), but I do do my best to “share the walk.”
Holland Macfallister
I guess the bottom line for me with the footbike is the fun factor. It not only gets me where I need to go, it makes me happy. There’s something primitive and gleeful about lifting your leg high in the air and striking it down on the pavement. And gliding through space in an upright position is a bit heavenly – kind of like an angel in a low budget cartoon. Ultimately I think some people were born to pedal and some were born to kick and here’s to all of us!

Thanks, Holland, for sharing your story with us…inspiring words about building community, one scooter kick at a time!


23 Comments

  1. Ghost Rider August 22, 2012 4:39 am 

    Great stuff, Holland!

    I’m a wee bit embarrassed to admit this, but I sometimes watch Big Time Rush, and I saw the episode where you played the “tough guy”!!!!

  2. tricker August 22, 2012 10:41 am 

    How do you lock up a scooter bike? It looks like there is nowhere to truly secure the frame

  3. Jeff August 22, 2012 11:07 am 

    Alright. I will admit it too, I saw that Big Time Rush episode, but it was only because my kids pointed it out! I am also a footbike commuter–sort of! After getting on my first footbike I realized it was going to be more than my cross-trainer and (ultimately) my favorite punishment. It was becoming a perfect compliment to my cycling, but more specifically for quick errands of under 3 miles with light loads. Up to that point it was also too much of a challenge to pick the right bike out of my growing fleet of choices. Big cargo, little cargo, racer, mountain, cruiser, kid hauler, cycle-hacker, what would I choose for a quick run to the bank, or for a coffee, or a RedBox..? Sometimes I wonder if grabbing the scooter is the easy way to roll and I am not riding my bikes enough. Either way, it has been a great problem to have!

  4. Jeff August 22, 2012 11:10 am 

    Tricker. Right behind the deck is a fork stay and enough space to secure my cable lock. Front wheel off, secure rear wheel and frame as needed. I think I could weave a U-lock through there as well, never tried it.

  5. BluesCat August 22, 2012 12:07 pm 

    I think scooter bikes are pretty neat, but I tried one once and discovered I simply couldn’t use it.

    One of the reasons I no longer backpack and no longer run or jog for exercise is plantar faciitis. The stress of pounding on that associated heel spur is so painful … I hobble around for days until I heal.

    The same thing happened when I tried a scooter bike and a “modern” skate board.

    Doesn’t happen on the bicycle, of course.

  6. Ghost Rider August 22, 2012 12:28 pm 

    Um…Jeff? Don’t you work for Footbike USA?

    For Holland, if you’re reading this: DO you “switch legs” as one of your passersby asked?

  7. Maggie August 22, 2012 1:15 pm 

    Nice profile!

    Ghost Rider, I think Holland does switch legs. Look at the first two photos.

  8. Eileen August 22, 2012 2:25 pm 

    Love your write up! Great job! Nice to see someone in LA get around without a car!

  9. Holland August 22, 2012 2:53 pm 

    Ghost Writer — thanks so much! And I love that you happened to see my episode of Big Time Rush…and are man enough to admit it!

  10. Holland August 22, 2012 3:54 pm 

    tricker — Jeff’s method is correct for total security. I lock and unlock so frequently, I keep it simple and am not as thorough. When I’m parking someplace that is well lit and visible and I’m not going to be that long, I just put my cable through the front wheel and wrap it around the frame above the water bottle and lock it up. The back wheel is vulnerable, but I don’t think an 18″ tire is that big a target. If I’m leaving it someplace like outside the subway and I’m going to be gone for a while, I do as above and reinforce with a U lock around the frame and front tire. It’s a little redundant, but it looks better.

  11. Holland August 22, 2012 3:58 pm 

    Good eyes, Maggie! She’s correct, Ghost Rider, I switch legs frequently. Interestingly, it’s not the kicking leg that gets tired, it’s the leg you’re standing on.

  12. Peter R August 22, 2012 4:16 pm 

    This is one of the most interesting “commuter profiles” I’ve read. I’d never really understood how you use a scooter bike, now I have a really good idea. I’m tempted to try one out.

    Thanks

  13. Cheryl H August 22, 2012 5:04 pm 

    Hey Holland, what a terrific write up and what great comments you made. I learned a lot and my already great admiration for you (from college acting classes of the past) went up another notch! Not only is it economical, cool, green, etc. etc. but best of all it makes you happy. Here’s to THAT!

  14. Ghost Rider August 22, 2012 7:22 pm 

    Funny…I have a burning desire to try out one of these scooter bikes now, too!

    I guess I should have looked more closely at the photos so that I could have anwsered my own question. But thanks for entertaining my query, Holland!

  15. Holland August 22, 2012 11:54 pm 

    @BluesCat — I hear you! Over the years, there have been so many exercises I’ve liked that I couldn’t stick with due to one physical thing or another. I’m glad that bicycling works for you, it’s both a great sport and a great way of getting around!

  16. Holland August 23, 2012 12:51 am 

    @Eileen and Cheryl — Thank you both for your really kind words!
    @Peter — I’m so pleased this was useful to you and appreciate your taking the time to comment. I hope you have a chance to try one soon! (I’m a three scooter family and there’s only one of me, so if you’re ever in the area…)
    @Ghost Rider — I’m glad you asked because a lot of people do wonder. I want a report if you give in to that burning desire!

  17. Jeff August 23, 2012 3:21 pm 

    @Ghost. I have earned the privilege of racing for Team Footbike Racing, and I get to grunt around the warehouse when new gear rolls in. I can’t say that I work there because nobody has offered to pay me yet!

    Yes, switch legs, please. The pro’s switch at around 20 kicks on the flats, 6-12 on the hills depending how steep. Like Holland said, the lactic acid builds in the standing leg, if you don’t switch in time, you may not be able too. Incidentally, in the 400m sprints we switch after about 75 kicks from the start at about the 300m mark.

    @BluesCat. Respectfully, I understand that Plantar Facitis is very painful. And with your description I have to say for the audience that if your HEAL is hitting the ground, or part of your kick motion, then that needs to be corrected. We contact with the front pad of our foot, and follow through to the end of the toes. If a footbiker is contacting heal first, they are never going to get anywhere.

  18. Jeff August 23, 2012 3:33 pm 

    Hey. I know this is bikeCOMMUTERS, but I thought you might like a peek at a video of a new 400m Sprint World record on a footbike.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SQ3xlgKI5L4

    My personal footbike COMMUTER utlizes a deconstructed Blackburn rear rack cobbled to the front, and two ancient panniers from BikPro USA, circa 1995. Love it!

  19. illiniwu August 24, 2012 9:45 pm 

    i’ve seen those elliptical looking bikes, tall bikes, even a penny farthing on the road, but i’ve never seen a footbike. plenty of razor scooters, but i imagine that this is much faster due to the large wheels. cool way of getting around!

  20. BluesCat August 25, 2012 7:42 pm 

    Jeff – Here’s the way plantar fasciitis and heel spurs work. The plantar fascia runs along the bottom of your foot, from your heel to your toes. Over time, as people walk and their weight stretches the plantar fascia, it pulls away from the heel, bleeds slightly, and forms a bony spur to keep it connected. Most adults have such bone spurs, but they only become painful if overuse from such activities as backpacking and running cause more damage to be done to the connective tissue and the body responds with inflammation. It is this constant stretching of the plantar fascia that causes the REAL damage and the pain, oftentimes aggravated by the heel striking the ground.
    The walking gait has the heel striking the ground first, and you are quite correct in saying that skateboarders, scooter riders and footbikers strike the ground with their forefoot first. However, this does NOT free them from the consequences of PF. Even if, at the beginning of a ride, the heel is not touching the ground, I can guarantee that as the rider tires when the foot hits the pavement the tired foot will collapse and the heel will strike the pavement.
    As a longtime PF sufferer, I can tell you that an episode of it begins with discomfort as I walk long distances during the day, and flames on if I’m doing something which causes my heel to even bounce ever so slightly off the pavement.

  21. Limbo August 27, 2012 1:22 pm 

    @Bluescat – Your scenario is very similar to mine so I thought I’d jump in to share my experience. I’m a long time bicyclist, PF sufferer for the last 10 years to varying degrees and I’ve been using a footbike seriously for the last couple of years. Without going into the mechanics of using the footbike too much, I will say it’s been a huge help to my PF and it’s almost completely unnoticable at this point. I’d estimate that I get about the same amount of heel pain from a 50 mile bike ride with lots of climbing while standing as I do from doing a 50 mile kick on my footbike. Anyway, I thought I would share my experience if interested.

  22. BluesCat August 27, 2012 2:14 pm 

    Limbo – That’s very interesting, and I’d be extremely interested in seeing a video of the technique/style that you use when riding your footbike. I will admit that my only, short experience with one ride on a footbike left me with that first-step-of-the-day, classic, stabbing pain from the heel for about a day after.

  23. Limbo August 27, 2012 2:44 pm 

    I may have started off incorporating some heel use early on, but as my speeds increased, it becomes increasingly more difficult to use anything other than a forefoot push. At my typical cruising speeds of 12-17mph, allowing the heel to make contact would produce a braking effect as far as I can figure. I don’t have any personal videos, but there’s a couple good sections in this video where you can see the technique up close (PF sufferers ignore the running parts!) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjHLiB6BPrU&feature=plcp
    I have lots of theories of what has helped me, one of which is the extra blood flow getting to my feet on the footbike has helped stimulate some healing when compared to my tight-ish fitting cycling shoes.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *