Category: Commuter Profiles


Note: We’re pleased to offer an intro to Bruce Wright, one of the leading advocates for better bicycling facilities, policies, and education in the greater Washington, D.C. area (and specifically Fairfax County, VA). Bruce’s advocacy work on the board of WABA and as chairman of FABB is very nearly a full-time job at this point, so we appreciate him taking the time to answer some questions for us!


Bruce Wright. Photo by Shannon Ayres,

How long have you been a bike commuter?
I started commuting by bike on a regular basis in 1979 and have been doing so almost daily since then (34 years).

Why did you start riding your bike to work and how long is/was your commute?
There were several reasons why I started to bike to work. I understood the health, economic, and environmental benefits of biking and since I had a short, 3 mile commute, I decided to bike instead of buying a second car and driving. I could commute by bus when necessary, which was very rare, maybe 3 or 4 times a year.

How does Bike Commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?
Since I retired from working full time my bike commuting to work has transformed to using a bike for almost all other local trips. I’m 64 years old and have been able to maintain the same weight as when I was in high school. I take no prescription drugs other than for minor medical procedures and usually only visit the doctor once a year for a physical. I think I’m a happier, more well-adjusted person because I get regular exercise by riding. My wife and I enjoy riding together as well. One caveat; I now use sunscreen whenever I go outside. Bike commuters are exposed to the sun more than others and we need to protect ourselves from the harmful effects of UV rays.

What do you do for a living and in what city/town do you bike commute?
When I worked full time I was a geographer with the U.S. Geological Survey in Reston, VA. Since I left the Survey in 1999 I’ve worked part time in several different jobs: as a legislative aide to a local politician, as a bike shop employee (at bikes@vienna), as a bicycle skills teacher, and now as the head of a local bicycle advocacy non-profit (volunteer). I’ve made a conscious decision to work in places where I can easily bike.

Bruce (3rd from left) with other FABB members at Bike to Work Day 2013















What kind(s) of bike do you have?

Lately I’ve been mostly using a Brompton folding bike. It has six gears, fenders and a rack and a front carrier block that holds a large bag. The bike is great for taking on Metrorail and bus and is a fun way to get around. For longer commutes or trips where I need to haul more stuff I use a Bruce Gordon touring bike outfitted with fenders, front (occasionally) and rear rack, and large panniers. I used that bike to travel cross country in 1999. I also own a recumbent tandem that I ride with my wife, a beater bike for parking at Metro, and a short wheelbase recumbent that doesn’t get much use these days.

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
I’ve helped many motorists who have car problems. When traveling on a bike it’s harder to pass by someone in need.

Bruce at the 2012 Fairfax Bike Summit

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
Most people have never tried riding a bike to work so the concept is foreign to them. I tell them that it’s easier than they think and that they should try it one day. It takes a little planning but most people can easily ride farther than they think. Bike to Work Day is a great time to encourage co-workers to try biking. I know many people who rode for the first time on Bike to Work Day and have continued to bike commute at least some of the time since then.

How about bicycling advocacy? Are you active in any local or regional advocacy groups?
I’m on the Board of Directors of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and chair of their advocacy committee. I’m also one of the founders and now chairman of Fairfax Advocates for Better Bicycling (FABB), a local volunteer non-profit advocating for better bike conditions and policies in Fairfax County, VA. I’m also a member of the League of American Bicyclists and a League Cycling Instructor.

Anything else that you want to share with us?
The world would be a healthier, happier place if more people took short trips by bike.


Hey Bike Commuters! Mir.I.Am here to share a super commuter profile with you for your after-turkey-afterglow enjoyment. Say “hello” to Emily Shellabarger, a Bay Area train and bike commuting gal on the go.  Although the Bike Commuter staff guys may argue that we indiscriminately love ALL commuter profiles, I’ve gotta say: I personally love when Cycle Ladies rep the commute because women on bikes are just plain hot!   Alright, enough hype-man shiz, introducing… Miss Emily Shellabarger!

Emily is a hipster

Emily S., posing as a hipster!

Name: Emily Shellabarger

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I’ve been bike commuting since I was a wee lass in the jump seat on the back of my dad’s 1983 silver Peugeot. He pedaled me all over the streets of Eugene, Oregon–including the hilly commute to daycare. And, even though I have to do all the work these days, my love for biking and two-wheeled commuting endures. I’ve been regularly bike commuting for the last five years––two years in Sacramento and three years in San Francisco.


The wee lass in her bike commuter beginnings in Eugene, Oregon.

Emily & Roy 1

And the grown-up Emily, bike commuting in Norcal!

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

I started riding my bike to work in Sacramento because it was faster than driving. I lived less than two-miles from the office. And let me tell you, that was an easy bike commute. Downtown Sacramento has all of one hill––actually, calling it a “hill” is generous, I’ll go with “incline”––and it was not on my route. Just the right kind of ride for me and my creaky old Schwinn, Stallion.

Boy, was I spoiled. After the company I work for relocated from the sunny flats of Sacramento to the Bay Area, I moved to San Francisco. My current commute includes 4-miles of biking + 30-miles of train riding + 2 more miles of biking. All told, it takes me just under an hour each way and beats the pants off of sitting in traffic on Highway 101.



Beating the pants off sitting in craptastic traffic on Highway 101.

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

Bike commuting in the Bay Area keeps me sane. Nothing puts me in a bad mood like sitting in stop-and-go traffic. I’d much rather start the day whooshing down hills as the sun rises and pedaling my way to the train station. Plus, thanks to those San Francisco hills, I don’t have to invest in a gym membership and my money can be saved for more important things like happy hour.


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

I manage consumer marketing and social media for a renewable fuel company in Redwood City, California. I live in San Francisco, so my bike commute spans the Peninsula of Silicon Valley. When feeling ambitious, I’ve been known to bike the entire 34-mile route, especially on Bike-to-Work Day (and not just because six-miles from my office, Oracle hosts the most amazing free breakfast buffet for cyclists).

Emily & Roy on the way to RWC

Whoa! Catch that sunset on the long way home from Redwood City. Emily on Roy the Road Bike.

B2W 2012 Orcale Breakfast w Commuters

Oracle free breakfast reward – from 2012 Bike to Work Week


More Bike to Work Week 2012

What kinds of bikes do you have?

My trusty steed, Stallion, a big Schwinn cruiser from the 80’s. And my daily commuter, a 2007 Raleigh Cadent affectionately dubbed, Roy the Road Bike.

Emily & Stallion Sacramento

Emily and “Stallion” cruising in Sacramento, CA.


“Roy” the Raleigh roadie, hiding in the back of the rack at work.


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

After moving to San Francisco I was anxious to dial in my bike route. I hunted online for the safest, flattest route and poured over my handy San Francisco Bike Routes map. I wrote out a turn-by-turn directions list. I had screenshots of the street route on my phone. I clicked through all the turns on Google street view, so I’d be fully prepared for visual queues. And I was still a bit nervous to venture out on the rowdy city streets, so I ended up bribing my roommate with coffee to accompany me on my first ride to the train station. Sometimes all you really  need is a bike buddy to help get you out on the streets!


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

When folks find out I bike/train commute from San Francisco to Redwood City, most people are impressed that I make the effort––or are slightly horrified.


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

I’d love to be more active in bike advocacy, especially since there is such a strong cycling community in San Francisco. Currently, I’m most active with, participating in their San Mateo County Bike-to-Work activities and clean commute challenges.

Larry & Em in Calistoga

Bike Buddy Advocacy – Emily on a ride in Calistoga

Moonlighting as  bike mechanic

Or moonlighting as a bike mechanic – just in time for Movember Moustaches!

Emily Shellabarger (oh man – such a good “two-name” name, who can resist holding back that Shellabarger?!), thanks for sharing your commuter profile and a little bit of west coast sunshine with Bike Commuters!  I am personally jealous of your sweet commute with that killer sunset.   Want to show us your ride and plaster your fantastic commute all over the internet?  Then send an email and we’ll hook you up with a Commuter Profile questionnaire. Email Mir.I.Am for details.

Lookout, cycle gators: it’s commuter profile season again! This bike commuter is one of my original bike heroes, and good, good friend, CPK. Not California Pizza Kitchen, I’m talkin’ Christian P. Kittelson, yo. Hailing from Seattle, where riding a bike to work is what all the cool kids do… Kittels makes pale look good!


On the bike path leading towards the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle – sweet commute captured by a sweet photographer! (Okay… that was Mir behind the lens, not even looking in the direction of travel.)


Christian Kittelson

How long have you been a bike commuter? 

13 years

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

I started commuting when I was in college in San Luis Obispo, California.  I continued when I moved to Seattle because I was tired of being dry and warm.  I quickly learned the importance of fenders with mud-flaps.  My commute is 4 miles each way, and I ride year round in all weather.


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

Biking helps me afford good beer so I don’t have to drink cheap, crappy, PBR.

kittelson pano

Yachts along the bike path towards Belltown in the Emerald City

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

I am architect in the Emerald City, Seattle.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I have 6 bikes:

  1. Red Bike – built for commuting
  2. Blue Bike – built for looks
  3. Black Bike – built for distance
  4. White Bike – built for speed
  5. Chrome Bike – built for hipness
  6. Mini Bike – built for travel

Red Bike – Commuting with Skis… why not?


Blue bike is perfect for picnics


Black Bike kills it for team riding!


White Bike for intense Mountain Climbing adventures


The vintage folder – travel friendly and guest bike

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

My commute home is a major bike path that goes along the rail-yards.  In the winter when its dark, there tends to be a few rats that hang out on or along the path in the bushes.  Its not uncommon to see one from time to time, but a lot of times I don’t see the glow of their eye until it is under my wheel.  I have started to add a tick mark to the chainstay of my bike for each rat I hit, and have subsequently coined it “the exterminator”.


Watch out rats, you’re about to get EXTERMINATER’d!

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

I usually don’t bring it up, but most people can usually tell because I am always wearing Velcro shoes with my jeans rolled up to the knee.  Sometimes I will walk around the office all day like this not realizing it until someone laughs at me and asks me where I am going.

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

As part of bike to work month each May I organize teams for my office for the Cascade Bike Club Commute Challenge here in Seattle.  We track miles to encourage people to ride more.  It’s been so popular I have started organizing the “Pineapple Challenge” in November.  Similar to the commute challenge, we have teams that log mileage, but November is the rainiest month in Seattle so its intended to reward pain and suffering my multiplying the total mileage times a ‘misery factor’ for the day.  The misery factor is based on daily rainfall amounts.  It’s epic.

Editor’s note: Here’s a plug for Christian’s fledgling bike blog: BikeCascadia.Blogspot

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Rock Flannel:  Not only is it comfortable and fashion forward, it also makes the best bike wear for the Northwest.

I luff it.  (P.S. – did you see the Mir.I.Am making a cameo face in that commute?) Arigato for sharing your bike love with the world of Bike Commuters, CPK – I’m gonna check that red bike next time for the latest “Exterminator” stats. So kiddies, if any of you cycle ladies and gents want to show your ride to the world, hook it up with an email to Mir and we’ll plaster your bike goodies all over the webby-web! 

Here’s an interesting item that popped up in today’s Google News feed: a Colorado-based documentary filmmaker and his project “A Winter of Cyclists”.

“A Winter of Cyclists,” from amateur filmmaker and Erie resident Mike Prendergast, tells the story of a group of commuters from Erie, Lafayette, Louisville, and Boulder who emerge on mountain bikes from warm homes in the predawn darkness, endure frigid temperatures and ice-slicked streets on the way to work, and then suit up again — after putting in eight hours at the office — for the post-dusk ride back home.

Their mission: commute to work and back home on a bicycle at least 52 times between the beginning of October and the end of March. It is known as the Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge and last winter was its inaugural run.

Read the full article by visiting the Daily Camera page here, and check out the trailer on Vimeo (full-length available for paid download):

Trailer: A Winter of Cyclists from ChainRing Films on Vimeo.

Winter’s coming…and while we’ve written extensively on various winter-commuting tactics, it’s fun and inspiring to see others get out there and roll through the ice and snow.

Editor’s note: Many of you may have seen Andrew Li’s excellent guest articles over the past couple months…well, we loved his work, and he loved doing it for us. So, we figured “why not add him to our staff?” So, welcome Andrew to the team; in our tradition, here is his commuter profile for your reading pleasure.

Name: Andrew Li

Andrew clownbike Figure 2

How long have you been a bike commuter?

Since about 2001, I have been commuting by bike. By no means am I car-independent. I would say that about 30% of my commuting distance during these last 10 years has been by bicycle.

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

I started pretty much out of necessity, in high-school. At that point, I did not have a car. So I carpooled, walked, or biked to school. By my senior year, I realized how fast a bicycle could be, and so I adopted cycling as my primary mode of transportation all throughout college and medical school.

Currently, my standard car-free commute is 20 miles, both directions combined. My longest car-free commute was about 32 miles, again, both directions combined.

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

Bike commuting allows me to:
1. Exercise (saves me a gym membership) and get somewhere I need to get to, all at the same time.
2. Saving me money not having to buy as much gas (check out the “commuter tools” tab on to see how much you can save by biking a few miles here and there).
3. Reduce my time sitting in traffic.
4. Slow down so I can more easily see and appreciate my surroundings and be more aware of the community through which I am cycling, both the good AND the bad. “An unexamined life is not worth living.”
a. I can’t tell you how many little shops and nooks I started noticing when I biked a route that I usually drove.
b. And since I was on a bike, I was more willing to stop and explore on foot.
5. Appreciate my car more, and as such, when I must drive, I don’t get as frustrated when stuck in traffic. Fascinating cycle: I bike to avoid driving, and in the end, it makes me a better driver.
6. Value the food I eat and view it not merely for pleasure but more for its properties as a source of energy and means of improving my performance and health. I was quick to learn that a bad diet easily manifested itself in a weak and weary ride.
7. Reduce your carbon footprint.
8. Cool topic of discussion at dinner parties.

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

I am a general surgery resident, and live with my wife in Long Beach, CA. I bike from Long Beach to Torrance for my current commute.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

My first commuter was an old Taiwanese road bike that my dad bought in the 80s at a garage sale for $20. It was my first love and a real beauty. I rode that bike for about 8 years, until it was stolen. In this photo, I am wearing a mask because Southern California during that year was having a bad firestorm, and so the smoke from the fire was pretty noticeable.

Andrew LA commute Figure 1

I had a beautiful Panasonic at one point, but we had to leave it when we moved away.

In college, a friend bequested an old Cannondale to me. However, the front wheel got stolen. So I rummaged through our engineering department and found a BMX wheel that no one needed, and the clownbike was born (see first picture above). I rode that thing for about 2 years all around campus and beyond. Amazingly good handling (small wheels mean tighter turns). It got a LOT of attention, pointing fingers, and great laughs. Riding it, you just could not help but smile and laugh. I also called it the “happy bike.” As tradition dictated, I bequested it to a friend when I graduated.

Currently I own an old Trek Antelope 830 with some simple personal modifications for my commute. Pretty robust so far.

trek commuter Figure 3

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

Some of the most interesting experiences for me were during my commute to one job I had in South Central Los Angeles (LA). The ride started in North Hollywood, and I saw the transitions from Valley suburbia, to decadent Hollywood Hills mansions, to the stark Business District and Downtown LA streets rushing with expensive cars, to South Central LA with its stretches of industrial compounds, schools with uniformed children laughing and playing behind high metal fences garnished with barbed wire, and the rattling homeless shopping carts.

One of the most powerful memories I had during that commute was biking by two homeless guys fighting over a shopping cart filled with empty soda cans and about 50 others trying to break it up. As I rode by, one of them overturned the cart, and the sound of a hundred empty soda cans crashing on concrete and my bike tires crunching over them was overwhelming.

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

They usually ask if I have ever gotten mugged before, as quite a few of my commutes have and currently go through rougher parts of town. Overall they are extremely supportive. I even converted one guy at my current work, and he is now a regular commuter.

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

I have been getting involved with We are trying to get RL’s mobile bike repair unit getting started in Long Beach.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I think I have gotten more tickets cycling than driving.