"Elizabeth Kiker, 36 years old, Vice President of League of American Bicyclists, car-lite, Arlington, Va."
When did you start using a bicycle for transportation and what effect has it had on your life?
"I started riding my bike to school in fifth grade, started again in college, and started as an adult in 2003. I was working at an association in Fairfax, Va. I’m a terrible driver, so I took the train and bus to work every day. I noticed that my entire commute had a bike trail that I could easily see out of the train and bus windows. One day, I decided to use it. I was riding an old mountain bike, and it took me a LONG time, but I loved it. I became obsessed, encouraging colleagues to ride, meeting them at their houses in the early a.m. to show them how to ride in, and riding all year round. When I saw the job opening at the League of American Bicyclists, I wrote an impassioned letter they still tease me about. The gist was: You MUST hire me! And they did."
Please describe a typical day in your cycling life?
"With two children under two, I don’t do a lot of recreational riding anymore. I do ride 7 miles each way to work, four to five days a week, all year round (excepting the blizzards this past February!) "
In your opinion, what’s the best part about cycling for transportation?
"The mind boggles! There are so many answers. The sunshine is my favorite one. The freedom. The views! (I live in Arlington and commute to DC via Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Monument, and the White House …) The way it helps me lose my baby weight. The cost!"
What’s the worst?
"… pause … snow!"
Do you have a favorite car-free/car-lite story? (Something that really makes you smile or could possibly encourage others to use a bike instead of a car for transportation?)
"I have so many! Some are from when I went out of my way to ride … like riding to Baltimore to meet friends for lunch (50 miles each way) or riding 10 miles out of the way to meet a colleague and show him how easy it was to ride to work. I do love every commute in the summer—I always try to stop and offer help to cyclists in need. Last week I saw a guy pushing a bike and offered him a tube or air. He said no thanks, that he was close to his hotel, and I rode on. The next day, at the same place (almost) I saw another guy pushing a bike. I stopped to help and he said, “Didn’t I talk to you yesterday?” It was the same guy! He was a tourist in town and had been low on air the previous day and then had a blow-out the next day. Both days he declined my offer of help, but it was fun to chat."
What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone starting/ considering commuting by bike?
- "You can do it!"
- "Have someone show you a good way to get to work by bicycle --- it most likely won’t be the way you drive. "
- "Don’t worry about all the gear --- just ride the bike you have and use a backpack, and then buy stuff later."
What changes regarding transportation would you like to see in the United States?
"More bicycle friendliness! More complete streets, more transit options, many, many fewer short car trips, and a lot more design for bicyclists."
Do you recommend cycling to friends/family members/youth or others? Have any taken you up on it?
"My dad commutes to work every day in Houston, Texas and my mom commuted before she retired. I’ve inspired at least 10 friends to start bicycle commuting, and my husband is even more dedicated to it than I am. I love spreading the word about riding to work!"
Anything else you would like to add?
"I love learning more about what bicycle advocates—people just like me, all across the country—are doing to transform their communities for bicyclists. My favorite League program is Bicycle Friendly America, where we certify communities, states, and businesses that are leading the way in bicycle friendliness. Find out more at http://www.bikeleague.org/!"
League of American Bicyclists are fighting for the rights of cyclists and the education cyclists and those interested in cycling. These are the people promoting cycling on a national level. I would encourage you to take a look at their site and see all the great things they are doing for us.
Their mission: "To promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America."