Commuter Profile: Melissa Mitchell

We got a slew of Commuter Profiles in exchange for stickers, however, some profiles were incomplete (lack of pictures, one line answers, blank answers) and some of them were very good. Here’s the first one from Melissa Mitchell from New Orleans, Louisiana:

How long have you been a bike commuter?

I confess to being a fair-weather commuter. I have been riding to and from work on and off regularly for about 7 years, not counting the 15 months that I lived at my workplace following Hurricane Katrina. I don’t do a lot of riding in the winter. My weekday average is 3 days per week so far. Sometimes, I need my car for something work-related and sometimes I have errands to run that would not be practical to do with a bike (not yet anyway!).

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

I started riding to work (17.67 miles round trip) because it made me feel good. I like being able to get my workout over with early in the day (and in the evening) and I like doing stuff that no one else I know does.

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

Well, I don’t have to buy as much gasoline. I makes me feel better about myself health-wise and it’s good for my brain.

What do you do for a living and in what city do you bike commute?
I am in Safety & Emergency Preparedness at one of the only 3 hospitals to remain open during Hurricane Katrina. I live in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What kind(s) of bike do you have?
I have a 2007 Trek 7300. Candy apple red. Before Katrina I had a 1989 Trek 750. It was a great bike and stayed with me for thousands of miles. Unfortunately, it couldn’t swim.

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

Not really. Traffic is decent here now. Of course I leave my house at 5:30 am to get to work. Afternoons are a bit more traffic-y, but it’s mostly bike path and marked bike routes where I ride.

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

Most people just assume that I live within a mile or two of the hospital. When they find out where I ride from every day, they are amazed.

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

I have, in the past, participated in our local Bicycle group. They are working to improve biking around New Orleans and have made great progress. There are bike lanes and bike paths popping up all over the place here, several that I use to commute on.

Anything else that you want to share with us?

I am fortunate, in that I work for a very large hospital/clinic complex. We have our own fitness center, i.e., shower facilities, covered parking areas for bikes, motorcycles, and scooters, and a very health conscious administration. I counted 20 bikes on the bike racks here this week. As a bike commuter I’ve been one responsible for making sure there are enough bike racks around and that they are placed in convenient locations for the employees and guests. I tour the grounds occasionally to see if bikes are showing up chained to trees, handrails, sign posts, etc. Then I will purchase a bike rack to go near those locations. Most people just park their bikes in the parking garage where it’s covered though.

We thank Melissa for her time and profile, your stickers are on their way!


  1. Ghost Rider

    Great profile, Melissa — I imagine you’ve got a few harrowing Katrina stories, too.

    If you haven’t read Cycling’s Greatest Misadventures (review upcoming), there’s a heartrending story about a New Orleans native who tours the ruined city by bike, finding both devastation and hope in his home city.

  2. Mindy

    Lucky! I wish I had showers and lockers at my work. As it is, I’ve been taking the bus to work and biking home. I rode in a couple of times this summer (10 miles in 100+ temperatures) and never did really cool off, even after powder, deodorant, and fresh clothes.

    I’m so sorry about your losses during the storm, and I’m glad things are looking up for you.


  3. Melanie

    Way to go ,Melissa!!!! We all need to be as health conscious, and find ways to enjoy exercizing and save on gasoline!! I’m so proud of you!!

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