Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2015 Commuter Profile Number 5: Heather

I interviewed Heather at her workplace about her bike commuting history and habits:

Heather is in her late 30’s and is a Staff Member at the Olympia Food Coop. She is also the Captain of the Coop’s BCC team, and organizes efforts to encourage more people to ride their bikes to the Coop. (In May, if you are signed up for the BCC and you arrive at the coop by bike, you can get a treat! See a Coop Customer Service person for details).
Heather got started using her bike for transportation about 5 years ago while living in Shelton and working in Olympia, and sharing one car with her partner. She could hop the bus in Shelton and ride into Olympia with her bike, and then get where she needed to go within Olympia by bike. She now lives in Olympia and has about a 5-mile commute each way to work. Heather is still a “Multi-modal” commuter though.
Since she works at both Coop locations and has to go back and forth across town, Heather will sometimes take the bus part of the way (especially up the Harrison Hill), so she can avoid arriving to work sweaty from climbing the hill. With two dogs at home to walk every day and sometimes strenuous duties at work, having the bus as a back-up is also handy for budgeting the day’s energy. Heather did lament that the bus to her neighborhood only runs until 7:30pm, which sometimes deters her from going to evening events downtown. Biking home in the dark at night after a long day at work and being out for the evening can feel like too much.

Regarding the benefits of biking to work, Heather says that it’s really nourishing for her to have time outside year-round, especially in our Northwest climate. Most people just stay inside when it’s rainy out, but being out in any kind of weather boost Heather’s mood and she arrives to work feeling rejuvenated and ready to go. Biking home gives time to transition from work and leave the day’s stresses behind. Biking to work and other destinations is also built-in exercise for Heather. With a busy schedule, it’s great to get outdoors and exercise without having to carve out extra time for it.

Here are Heather’s answers to some of our other interview questions:

•    How many times have you been in the BCC?  This year is the first!
•    How did you hear about the Bicycle Commuter Contest? Through my workplace.
•    Where else do you ride besides work?  To visit friends.
•    What are some of the challenges you have experienced, and how have you overcome them? Wet feet, I wear BOGZ rain boots now.
•    What is it that keeps you going, especially when the going is tough (weather, darkness, inertia, etc)?  Breathable rain gear so that I stay cozy.  I love riding my bike and being outside, so as long as I am comfortable it's fun.
•    What’s your favorite thing about practical cycling and/or the BCC?  I like how being active is a part of my regular transportation and helps me stay physically healthy.  The BCC helps people get out of transportation ruts and explore what it's like to commute to work [by bike].
•    How have you adapted your habits to make practical cycling work for you? I allow a little extra time, mostly just to get my rain gear on and pack up my panniers. It’s all about having the right gear and knowing what to pack. It’s no fun biking in the rain without good rain gear, but once you have it, it’s a piece of cake!
•    How do you choose your route (most direct, least traffic, most scenic, etc)?  I mostly choose the direct route, but also like to avoid heavy traffic. I’ll take neighborhood streets and the bike path as an alternative to busy streets like Capitol Way, and Pacific Avenue.
•    What style of bike do you ride to commute? I have a Giant “Seek 3” city bike. I added cruiser handlebars, fenders and a rack and a women’s specific saddle with the cut-out in the middle, and it’s great! I have front and rear lights and a spoke light for side visibility, and Ortlieb waterproof panniers to carry my things.
•    Any words of wisdom for the beginning practical cyclist? Get good bike gear, especially rain gear and waterproof panniers. It is expensive, but worth it to spend the money once and get quality gear. If you can stay dry in all weather, and know that things in your bike bags will be dry and safe, biking is fun!

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