Bike Commute Challenged.

by | August 25, 2015 1 Ideas

Note: Next week, SERA Architects will join workplaces across the region for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance’s Bike Commute Challenge. A symbol of our dedication to sustainability, the challenge to bike to work every day is often a motivator for new and recreational cyclists to try commuting for the first time. For some, it’s the discovery of a new passion. 

Biking for me was an emotional roadblock.

When I was in high school, a dear friend of mine was killed in a hit-and-run accident while riding her bike. She was the poster child for safe bicycling – she had all the gear and knew all the laws. And yet coming home from school one day, she was hit from behind and died later that night.

I never felt safe on a bike after that; I simply felt too exposed.

I’ve always known that bicycling was an excellent means of transportation. You can’t live in Portland without feeling the integration of the bicycling community.

My husband and I were fortunate enough to find our home in Northwest Portland, so our commute by Streetcar, or just walking, was very easy for us. I have always loved the concept of biking and the obvious sustainability behind it. My husband used his bike on occasion to get to work as well, so I knew that it was actually faster than public transportation for a long time before I even considered biking myself. For me, the decision not to bike was still quite personal.

When I started working at SERA, I was quickly inundated with (friendly) peer pressure to start biking. After all, I lived so close to work and neither I nor my husband had owned a car for a couple of years. With a bike, he often reminded me, I could get around faster, transport groceries home more easily and get some quick exercise before and after work. Watching him bike around town, I also saw the obvious freedom he felt by riding his bicycle.

photo of Caitlin Kessi

Caitlin Kessi

My coworkers’ excitement for biking peaks during the Bike Commute Challenge. Last September, our office split up into groups to compete for the most miles biked during the month. I laugh thinking about it now, but I remember how my team members laid it on thick: just try it. Several of them even assured me that if I found a bike to ride that they’d meet me at my house, and ride with me while I got the hang of it.

Feeling more comfortable with the idea, my husband took me bike shopping “just to look,” and found a bike that I actually felt comfortable riding. His surprise to me was an early anniversary gift – a lovely Linus Dutchi in light blue. He carefully mapped a low-traffic route and rode with me several times before I finally did it on my own. As a show of support, a coworker even biked home with me one day, giving me some tips along the way.

I’m still quite grateful for both of them.

Since then, I’ve been enjoying my quick seven-minute commute to and from work nearly every day. I use my bike bell liberally and take every chance I can to educate drivers on the rights of bicyclists on the road (sometimes from the seat of my bike…). I think that getting more bicyclists on the road who respect the laws, and the more drivers who are mindful of them, the safer it will be to bike in our city.

There’s a strong comradery in the biking community here, and I’d like to see all vehicles feel a part of that.

For safety tips and advice for bike commuters new and old, visit BTA’s Commuter Resources

One Comment

  1. Shelby Schroeder says |

    Thanks for sharing your story, Caitlin!

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