Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2009 Commuter Profile #1: Linda Weaver

Linda and her Diamondback on a rainy trip to Portland
(Good thing the weather is better here in Olympia!)

What is your Age? I'm in my Fifties
Your Occupation? Information Technology Specialist (developer)
How many years have you been commuting by bike? Regularly 9; irregularly longer.
Describe your current average or usual commute: I ride about 5½ miles each way, it takes me between half an hour & 45 minutes, depending on how much I want to push myself, the route I take, whether I’m stopping for groceries, etc. My route has a mix of rural, including some nice bike trails, and urban-through the heart of downtown Olympia. The toughest part of my ride, getting started, was the hill up to West Olympia. I use 5th Ave, now, or Sherman St (the first right after the second roundabout going up Harrison from downtown), these are the two mildest routes, with Sherman being the easiest.
What got you started bike commuting? I have two kids and I am concerned about Global Warming and air quality. I felt that talking about these things wasn’t enough: to be a good role model, I needed to also walk the walk. I am grateful to my kids for providing this stimulus.
What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, etc)? Good rain gear—a waterproof coat!—and fenders, tires with a little tread, as well as visibility gear (bright clothing, front and rear flashing lights) are essential, including some kind of safety glasses (car & truck tires can throw rocks up in your face). Being able to feel dry—including keeping the rain out of your eyes—and safe makes bad weather much more pleasant to be out in. Also, I feel guilty wasting gas & polluting the air when I drive–-people who don’t walk & bike don’t understand how much smelly pollution a single car going by puts out. Also, I need the on-my-own thinking time. So I just feel better—all around—when I ride my bike.
How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)? I take all of these factors into account, but I’m really lucky that way. Most people don’t have as many choices. I certainly try to get to work & back home as quickly as possible, but I like being able to go on bike trails, where they’re available, and through neighborhoods whenever possible, versus sharing the road with cars, as it’s quieter, safer, and less stressful.
What style of bike do you ride to commute? It’s not my recommendation, but I ride a mountain bike. When I started out, all I wanted was a bike that could get me up the hill. So, my bike’s a bit heavy, but I’ve got a crate on the back and I can carry two full bags of groceries, plus my backpack (with my work essentials), on shopping days. Saddlebags or buckets are an even better solution for carrying stuff, as you are more balanced.
How many times have you participated in the Bicycle Commuter Contest?
Maybe 10 or 11 times. The Bicycle Commuter Contest is what got me started commuting by bike. I tried it for a month and found out it was doable. I commuted now & then for a couple of years before I committed to year-round riding.