Bike Month Profile: Carly, Bicycle Friendly University Expert
Next up is Carly Sieff, Bicycle Friendly America Program Assistant.
Hi Carly, what do you like most about Bike Month?
Bike Month is a wonderful time to rediscover biking. Pull your bike out from under the dust in the garage, and join thousands of others around the country and right in your community who are anxious to embrace spring, beautiful weather and a summer of activity by getting out there on bicycles. It is a time to really feel the support that is there for bike commuters and to know what a positive impact you are making for yourself and the environment.
You work on the Bicycle Friendly University program. What’s the coolest thing a college is doing during Bike Month?
The University of Oregon has an inspiring series of events throughout the month of May. The highlight of the month is the Bike Music Fest which features pedal-powered musical and entertainment acts, a free repair station, a Live-on-Bike musical performance & bicycle ride, and a workshop about pedal-generated electricity.
And of course I can’t forget to mention the bicycle-shaped pancakes at the University of California Santa Barbara as a part of their Bike to School CycleMAYnia event.
Bike-shaped pancakes. Nice. OK, back to you. When and why do you ride your bike?
I ride my bike every day and almost everywhere—to work, friends’ houses, bars, trailheads, grocery shopping…
I find biking empowering, knowing that I can get myself wherever I need to be, completely human powered. It is also the most efficient means of travel, as I can come and go on my own time rather than the bus’ schedule, pass by vehicular traffic from the bike lane, and plentiful bike parking and a connected bike network allow me to run errands on my way home. Not only does biking efficiently get me to my destination, but it provides an interaction with the community, a lesson in sustainability and a healthy, active way to get around.
What’s the longest ride you’ve ever done?
I spent a summer biking 4,000 miles across the country. And that was probably my longest ride.
Do you have an all-time favorite route, trip, or experience you’d like to share?
I’ve gone on some great bike trips leaving from my own front door in DC—crossing through 3 states on a weekend ride to Harper’s Ferry, trying my wheels in urban exploration on a ride to Baltimore, and exploring Virginia view from the mountains of Shenandoah.
What tips do you have for new bike commuters?
Be careful, it’s addicting! It may take a few trips to get comfortable (for which I suggest riding with an experienced commuter who knows the good routes), but once you do, you’ll realize how much sense biking makes for your health, your wallet and the environment.
What do know now that you wish you knew before you started to ride frequently?
That it is worth investing in warm, dry gear for the winter and keeping my bike well-lit and safe. I spent too many rides my first winter commuting with numb fingers and toes, and thin tires slipping on ice. I calculated that with the money I save on the metro (about $80/ month), I can afford to invest in apparel and accessories that will last and make my rides safer and more enjoyable.
What do you typically wear to ride?
On my everyday commute, I wear exactly what I am wearing to work—skirt, dress, blouse, etc. It is only on my longer weekend rides that I break out the lycra.