Category: Commuter Profiles

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!

Please help us welcome the newest Associate Writer for BikeCommuters.com, Hermes Pagulayan. We first featured Hermes in a Commuter Profile about a year ago and he’s even contributed a guest article.
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As BikeCommuters.com continues to grow, we found the need for another staffer to help us with spreading the good news of bike commuting. I actually know Hermes through church and he’s is probably THE ONLY person I know who lives in Orange County, Ca. who doesn’t own a car. That’s a pretty big deal since SoCal is such a car-centric part of the country. When I learned that he used a bicycle to get to and from his clients, dates, and church, I was thoroughly impressed. We look forward to seeing what Hermes has to offer the BikeCommuters.com readership.

Okay kiddies,

Since we’ve been BEGGING for your commuter profiles and only get a slim response back after you have been emailed the template of questions, all we really want to see is some pictures of HOT Commuter Bikes!  So, lacking an enormous response from our readers… maybe a little “You show me yours, then I’ll show you mine” is in order.  For the record, here are the commuter profiles of all of our Bike Commuters staff writers, and our very own Bike Lust Eyecandy to tide you over until the day comes for our next Commuter Profile from readers like YOU!  If you are interested in submitting and proclaiming ultimate love for your commuter city, your lovely two-wheeled steed, and your awesome bikey sauceness – please email mir{at}bikecommuters{dawt}com.  It’s so easy, even Danny can do it.  We send you the q’s, you send us the response and hi-res photos of your bike, custom add-ons and ghetto-hacks, your scenic/treacherous commute, and your beautiful face.  We edit, publish, and make you an internet icon!

Let’s see if you loyal readers can guess which bike belongs to which rider-writer! Elizabeth, Mir.I.Am, RL, Ghost Rider, or Matt?  Click the photos to find the answers.

Commuter A:

Redline MTB

Rugged Redline MTB – who rides this BEAST in the streets?!

Commuter B:

Eggplant and Bumblebee bikes

Which writer rides the Bumblebee (right) with their friend, Eggplant (left)?

Commuter C:

Toro and Po Campo

An all-season rider, this staff writer's commuter bike was recently stolen! sad face for Toro.

Commuter D:

Redline 925

No official profile on this Bike Commuters staff writer… maybe it's time to get into it!

Commuter E:

Fixed Gear Machine

Whose get'er done is this? – a fixed gear machine!

Bring on the Commuter Profiles!

So what do you say, velomonsters, can you tell a lot about a rider from their bike?

Here’s a special treat for you…a commuter profile of the mastermind behind the really cool website BikeHacks.com. Matt has been serving up funky, cheap and downright crazy DIY solutions for cyclists for several years, and BikeHacks is a longtime friend of ours. Let’s see what Matt can tell us about his commute…read on!

Name: Matt, only my Mom calls me Matthew.

BHProfile_Pic

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I guess you could say I became a “hardcore” commuter in 2004 shortly after moving to New York City. I grew up on the west coast and did ride my bike to work occasionally when living in Oregon and California, but you could say I was a “fair weather” commuter. I used to participate in lots of recreational road rides in the spring and summer and to stay in shape I would commute to work occasionally in order to get in mileage.

How long is your commute?

My commute right now is about 5 miles one way. It’s a decent distance, enough to get a workout at 10 miles per day but not enough to really be considered an extreme workout. A friend of mine once lived 20 miles from work and would commute 2 or 3 days a week – I would call that extreme commuting, or something.

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

I travel a lot and really notice how much commuting by bike is part of my life when it is missing from my daily routine. Riding my bike helps me to relax and it is nice to have a workout built in to my day. Many people I work with schedule time in the day to go the gym and often don’t make it, but my gym is my bike and I don’t need to worry about scheduling a time to work out.

I also listen to podcasts in one ear while I ride (shout out to One Good Earbud – http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/2011/11/one-good-earbud-post-2-magic-carpet-ride.html) and am able to stay up on news I like to follow. I am constantly amazed at the social aspect of commuting as well. For example, the other day I stopped to get a bagel and a guy saw me in my helmet/gear and started to talk to me. He said he used to commute by bike all the time but got a job that was too far away to allow him to ride. He said he really missed it.

A few days later a guy saw me parking my bike at night and I have tons of lights and he stopped and started to talk to me about how cool he thought the lights were. Random conversations associated with commuting are cool.

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

I just moved to Boston after living in New York City for 8 years. Moving to New York was liberating in many ways, one of which was being able to live comfortably without car ownership. I hope to be able to go without owning a car in Boston, but I did get a Zipcar membership recently which offers the benefit of being able to drive when necessary but not having to own.

As far as what I do, I am a lucky guy – I have basically never left school my whole life.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?

I currently have two bikes. I purchased a used Cannondale R900 road bike back in 1996 and I actually got a free bike from Specialized a few years ago. I run a blog, bikehacks.com (http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/),and rather than running a bunch of ads promoting some new bikes, Specialized decided to give bikes to a bunch of bloggers and have them write about their experience for a few months.

I had an awesome time reviewing the bike. One main theme of bikehacks.com is to personalize your bike and a new bike was a blank canvas. I wrote close to 30 posts and documented the transformation. It was funny actually because many people said that I ruined the bike. You can judge for yourself from this recent photo.

IMAG0404

When I entered the contest to win the right to get the bike I said the first thing I would do was to give the bike a healthy scratch. Yes I want a bike that performs well, but I also don’t want to obsess over keeping a bike in pristine condition.

I kept my promise and used a key to put a healthy sized scratch on the seat post tube when I picked it up. The guy at the bike shop looked at me like I was crazy and I just smiled. Over time I did things like paint the fenders bright orange, cover the frame in stickers, and hang a discarded air freshener that I found on the street from my seat.

One bummer is that bikehacks.com got hacked and all of the posts documenting what I did to my bike are locked up in a WordPress archive file right now. Eventually I hope to post them all again but the transfer to Typepad did not go as smoothly as I had hoped.

Riding in New York City definitely changed my attitude toward the appearance of my bike. Part of the game in NYC is making your bike less appealing for people to steal. Thus much of the “hacking” was aesthetic (uglifying) but there are also lots of little security hacks I deployed as well. My Cannondale was “factory” when I moved to NYC, but now you can see the appearance is far from what it looked like when I got it. Once I started hacking I simply could not stop.

Cannondale

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

One funny thing happened a few years ago. I was riding on a bike path in NYC and came upon a pannier that someone had dropped. How it fell off without the rider knowing was a mystery to me but I picked it up and took it with me. When I got home I opened the bag and found a receipt with a guy’s full name on it – no email, phone, or physical address, but a full name. The pannier was filled with some pretty specialized tools and a bottle of top flight alcohol and I know that if I lost what was in the bag I would want it back.

Back then I had a personal blog so on a whim I posted an entry with the guy’s full name and noted that I found a pannier and thought that perhaps someone would stumble upon the post that knew the guy. Funny enough, about a month and a half later I open my email one morning and there is a message from the owner of the bag. He said his Mom had Googled his name and stumbled upon my post. As it turns out he lived in Connecticut but had been in the city riding. We ended up meeting for breakfast a few weeks later and I was able to return the bag, sans the bottle of alcohol that was in the bag – it was just too tempting to pass up and its consumption was the finder’s fee =)

Another thing I love about bike commuting is some of the cool stuff you run into and get to see. One example is the graffiti shot from earlier in the post (taken in Harlem). Riding on a bike gives you the opportunity to see things you might not see in a car, and if you did see it in a car, you might not be able to stop. For example, check this picture out –

gotcha

One morning while riding to work I saw something swoop out of the sky and land in a tree. I jammed on my brakes and looked up and got to see that Red Tailed Hawk consume a rat for breakfast. Who would have thought that a scene from Wild Kingdom would play out on a bike commute in New York City?

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

It’s safe to say that most people I work with in Boston and used to work with in New York City react to the fact that I commute year-round with bewilderment and incredulity. The first reason is pretty typical – most people can’t fathom riding in what they consider to be extreme weather conditions. The other reason is the simple danger of riding in an urban environment with so many vehicles to contend with.

I don’t mind riding in different weather conditions and although if I had a choice I would much rather not ride around motor vehicles, I have to be honest and say that I find it kind of exciting. I don’t skitch (http://www.instructables.com/id/How-To-Skitch-on-a-Bicycle-Grab-onto-a-moving-Car/) or anything crazy, but there is a certain adrenaline rush I get at times when riding with/in traffic.

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

When I first moved to New York City a friend invited me a Critical Mass ride. For a few months Critical Mass was a total blast. The cops were non-confrontational and even assisted with the rides. It was not that the cops planned to help or were connected to the rides, but once the rides got going it was not unusual for a few cops on scooters or in cars to spontaneously ride/drive along and help with traffic and just hang out as the ride went along. It was freaking awesome and very chill.

Then the proverbial crap hit the fan when the Republican National Convention came to town and just happened to coincide with the last Friday of the month – the day Critical Mass happens. As the mass went by Madison Square Garden all hell broke loose and the cops arrested people in mass and tossed them in a warehouse overnight. I was out of town the week it happened and missed it, but several friends got caught up in it. From that point forward the city declared war on Critical Mass and as many might know, there have been many court battles fought over whether cyclists can ride in mass in NYC.

For me Critical Mass was fun at first, but after the crack downs started I did notice that a lot of people I knew that did not ride began to associate me with the image in the media of an “outlaw” cyclist hell bent on disrupting traffic and causing the police grief. I was far from an outlaw; I just liked riding my bike to work and did not want to get into trouble for doing so.

I supported some friends that engaged in a legal battle with the city about their arrests and seizure of their bikes for riding in Critical Mass, but I was dissuaded from further participation because of all of the negative attention the rides were getting. You could say that I do not oppose Critical Mass, but I also think there are possibly better ways to draw attention to cycling as an alternative form of transportation.

For now, you could call running bikehacks.com my own little piece of the bicycle advocacy pie.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

Part of the fun of running bikehacks.com is definitely the people I get to meet and interact with. For example, when I first started the site I contacted the Bicycle Tutor and asked him if he was interested in an interview. He agreed (http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/2011/10/interview-the-bicycle-tutor.html) and sometime down the line business took me to Vancouver, B.C. where he lives and we got together and had a beer. It was a cool to get to know someone in that somewhat random way.

We get reader submissions from all over the world and if readers of this post are interested in submitting ideas for mass consumption on the site, our email box is always open (http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/submit-your-hack.html). And if you don’t take yourself too seriously, you might enjoy our Dictionary of Bike Commuter Slang (http://www.bikehacks.com/bikehacks/2010/03/dictionary-of-bike-commuter-slang.html). I started it a few years ago as a lighthearted look at those on two wheels and most people that have run into it have enjoyed it and in many cases contributed to it. Others seem to be a bit to serious and call me/the site out for ridiculing others. I currently or previously fit many of the descriptions and am willing to laugh at myself – others not so much.

Other than that, ride safe and hack that whip!

We’d like to thank Matt for sharing his words and photos. For the rest of you, there’s still time to submit yourself to the glory of minor Internet stardom. Drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com and we’ll send you the details about sending in your own profile!

This week’s commuter profile comes from Jed Reynolds, longtime reader of our humble site. Jed’s got lots of stuff to share, so let’s get started!

Name: Jed Reynolds

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How long have you been a bike commuter?

I took bicycling casually about 15 years ago while in college–I got around using a mountain bike and transit. I eventually took being a software contractor pretty seriously, bought a car, and lost the bike. Eight years ago, I moved to Bellingham, and I bought a bike to get to my first job here, but I still occasionally drove to work. In the last three years I have “figured it out”…my knees don’t bug me, and I thoroughly got bit by the cycling bug. I’ve been a full time bike commuter for approaching two years and I’m busy cycling through my second winter in the pacific northwest!

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

Not wanting to own a car was while I was in college was a start. Now it’s about getting exercise and avoiding buying gas are why I started biking to work. Once my office relocated closer to home to about six miles–that seemed much less daunting to me. My health has changed and getting regular exercise has become a necessity. I’ve gotten get used to biking about thirteen miles a day, or more if I have time to expand the route.

w-north-baker

How does bicycle commuting help you with your lifestyle (economics, health, relationships)?

I can’t claim to be the most frugal cyclist, but this year I did downgrade from two cars to one. If it weren’t so fun to upgrade my bikes, I’d actually save money. Using my cargo bike, I can go for about five weeks without touching the van. (My van is still very useful for family trips.) All my typical shopping I can fit in plastic storage boxes on my cargo bike. I also deliver my kids to school by bike, using a trailer or on the cargo bike. I haven’t calculated my savings, but the money wasn’t as important to me as the fun riding and the righteous feeling of minimizing my car use.

I’m feeling healthy and am now in better shape than when I was in high school! I realized recently that I really did need an hour or more of exercise a day. I didn’t lose 40lbs from just from cycling, however. The truth really is too serious: type II diabetes. I control my health with medication, diet and exercise. I have no excuse to live a sedate lifestyle now. Rather, I feel a responsibility to model an active lifestyle. (There are a million new cases of type II diabetes every year. Please take diet and exercise seriously. [Footnote: 1.6 million people in the United States aged 20 years or older are diagnosed with diabetes every year – http://www.dagc.org/diastatsus.asp ])

People from my past will find a new Jed. Previously I was a sloth-like asocial computer geek–never a fan of exercise and derisive of organized sports and loathed “jocks.” I’ve dropped all that attitude. Now I’m eager take my kids on bike tips in any weather, and I’m planning a summer of bike picnics and eventually bike camping.

I no longer talk only about computers–I can strike up a conversation about bicycling with almost anyone, and it actually feels much better. (Other people don’t like to talk about computers? Wow.). I’ve made friends in my neighborhood by offering bike tune ups. Just drawing a bicycle on my name tag at gathering invites conversations.

My inner childhood mechanic loves geeky DIY bike culture. I’ve been cutting up scraps of this and that to fashion light brackets and fender extensions. For my cargo bike I made a bright yellow rain tarp using reclaimed inner-tube as tie-downs. I’ve gone on my second tweed ride with my sons! (Tweed rides are almost as geeky as attending a Renassance Fair or being a larper [http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=LARP].)

2010-05-09-Bellingham-Tweedride-Gentlemen-small-sepia

My family relationships have been enriched in other ways. I have a brother in law who’s a professional bike mechanic and my sister has a 26 mile daily bike commute…so we always have something to talk about. As you can tell…I’m still waiting for this bicyclist thing to improve my relationships.

What do you do for a living and where do you live?

I’ve been a web application programmer and Linux system administrator for over a decade. Occasionally I hear that computer programmers tend to like bicycles, but it still seems uncommon. Conversely, Bellingham is very bike friendly and there’s a local software company that not only has its own bike shop, it keeps winning a pile of the bike to work month challenges. [http://blog.logos.com/archives/2009/05/bike_to_work_day.html] Editor’s note: we featured Logos and their bike commuter incentives back in 2009. Take a look at our original article by clicking here.

Bellingham has been recognized as a bike friendly town [http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bicyclefriendlyamerica/communities/bfc_bellingham.php] [http://www.bicyclepaper.com/articles/2010/8/league_of_american_bicyclists_2010_state_and_community_rankings]

What kind(s) of bike(s) do you have?

I have three bikes that I love to ride: a Trek 7200 that I installed fenders and trekking bars on, and a 58cm Novara Expresso XC I turned turned Xtracycle. I’ve also started learning to ride a recumbent and now I have a Rans Tailwind. I also pull a Burley Bee trailer for shopping and lugging kids in…sometimes I tow it behind my Xtracycle.

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I recently sold a Trek 3900 that I hybridized–taped the fenders up with yellow tape, and extended the fenders with milk jug panels, added toe clips and a rack. Good bike. I also sold a Trek 820 that I also made a rain commuter with yellow fenders. Now I just have one more Trek 820 to outfit with some yellow fenders on and sell.

trek820

Any funny/interesting commuting story you’d like to share?

My route takes me up Northwest Avenue and under Interstate 5. That area until just recently has been a snarl with bad left turn traffic and then construction to redevelop the intersection with a roundabout. Going home months ago on my mountain bike, I was passing through this underpass and a contractors pickup rumbles by and I hear the tinkle of nails in his truck. Suddenly I cannot pedal and I’m skidding right into the middle off the offramp merge lane! Luckily, I land on my feet and still full of adrenaline I don’t skip a beat to drag my bike to the shoulder. The bike will not coast. I drug it to the sidewalk, unhooked the panniers, dug out my toolkit, and what did I discover but a five inch nickel-plated nail slammed through both sidewalls of the tire! The nail was wedged against the rear brake pads which explains my sudden skid. I had just taken the read wheel off when I look up to see on of my neighbors parked right next to me with his trunk open! “Need a ride?” I love living in a small city.

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What do people say when you’re a bike commuter?

While its common in Bellingham to compare bike commutes, I’ve met a variety of reactions. Generally-impressed is almost as common a reaction as nodding-approval. People in line at the grocery often ask how far I ride, and then they seem quite reflective and wish that I stay safe on the road. I enjoyed talking to a grocery bagger who was astounded that anyone could bike from Bellingham to Ferndale.

I get impressed looks from people when I clarify that I’m looking forward to another winter on the bike. Snow? Yes: studded tires! Rain can’t stop me, its part of the adventure (like camping). But I admit it–wind will stop me. Sustained winds over 25mph are not safe or enjoyable, and gusts beyond 35mph have pushed me to a standstill and into traffic. On those days, I’m fortunate that I can work from home.

People are often left with the impression that I’ve been biking and athletic my whole life. That’s not the case at all–overweight nerd programmer hated exercise, never played a sport and resents sports on TV even more.

How about bicycling advocacy? Groups?

I’ve recently met many of the local biking and transit advocates in Bellingham: Mary and Linda and Karen from Whatcom SmartTrips [https://www.whatcomsmarttrips.org/] and EverybodyBIKE [http://www.everybodybike.com/]. I’ve won some transit prizes from our SmartTrips program. This summer I attended a recognition ceremony at the farmers market with my younger son. We met the mayor Dan Pike and congressman Rick Larsen. Mayor Pike does his best to ride to work…and so have a many previous Bellingham mayors.

But its not really up to my congressman to model the behavior I expect. Like Ghandi said: you must be the change you wish to see in the world. When I bike, I feel like that change. When I talk about bicycling, I also feel like that change. After bragging how much I save on gas, I often ask people if they ever considered biking to work. I invite people to tell me why their commute wouldn’t work by bicycle.
People’s comfort zone is pretty obvious, but some people have provided other instructive answers:
• people live dozens of miles away
• people work early shift and have to leave the house at 3AM to be in my 4:30AM
• people work late shift and I don’t want to bike in the dark
• people run, don’t have time to bike
• people live X miles up a 50mph windy highway lacking bike lanes or any shoulder
• afraid of traffic
• that huge hill
• “that wife” put the bike behind the couch again

Bicycling is just bicycling, of course, it’s not superior for all people. I believe that advocacy has got to be fun. Bike parades, themed rides, and multi-economic angles need to play together. I believe in keeping the conversation going around parents with kids. I think that getting groceries while taking the kids with you – on a bicycle – is how we need to break our addiction to cars.

In Bellingham, there is an inspiring project providing disadvantaged youths bicycles and group rides called The Bike Shop [http://www.thebikeshop1.org/]. Families wanting bike come in and can buy a really cheap beat up bike…but they cannot leave with it until they’ve learned to fix it up. This helps build independence and removes the concept that bikes are a disposable appliance.

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Thank you, Jed, for sharing your words and stories with us. For the rest of you who would like to be featured in a future “commuter profile“, drop us a line at ghostrider[at]bikecommuters[dot]com.