LCI Spotlight: Michelle Cook
The League certifies hundreds of League Cycling Instructors every year and there are thousands of LCIs around the country leading bike education efforts in their communities. In our LCI spotlight series, we are sharing the stories of League Cycling Instructors doing what they do every day: educating, mentoring, empowering. You don’t have to be an extraordinary athlete or overachieving student to be a stellar LCI, all you need is the conviction that life is better for everyone when more people ride bikes.
A League Cycling Instructor who’s a model for her community AND a bike model for Boston Blue Bikes — we love to see it! Meet Michelle Cook, our LCI in the spotlight this month. Find our earlier LCI Spotlights in our blog archives.
“What inspires me the most about Michelle is she truly cares. Her main focus is to educate those who are not familiar with biking and want to learn,” said Shavel’le Olivier, who nominated Michelle for the LCI Spotlight. “Her rides are just the right amount of time and distance. As I learn more about the biking world, Michelle has been there. She has provided her expertise with a major youth-led cycling event called Mattapan on Wheels, she was a guest participant when my youth were creating their first bike repair workshops and give feedback to support them, we collaborated together on a successful series of talks called talks Transportation Talks. All of these things she supported me with, were for free and that truly means a lot. It means she cares deeply about making sure black and brown individuals of all shapes and sizes are able to benefit from bike education. As a woman of colour, there are not many people I could turn to in this space that are similar to me and I truly appreciate Michelle for being that person.”
As an educator in Dorchester, Massachusetts, Michelle has touched the lives of many Bostonians learning to embrace the bicycle. Between leading group rides like a Roxbury historical tour and leading a bike camping program with third graders, Michelle loves spending her free time ensuring everyone has a space in the bicycling community. Read Michelle’s thoughts on being an LCI below.
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND WHY YOU ENJOY TEACHING OTHERS TO BIKE.
I am known in the community as The Bikenista. I have been biking as an adult for at least 10 years and rode as a young person. My biking style is a bit different as I teach not only biking but that you can bike “as you are”. This means no matter what size you are, you can bike. You do not need to wear anything fancy to bike. In fact, I promote being fashionable while biking! I love teaching others about bike education particularly to young people and women. I love to see the joy in their faces when they learn to ride, when they get to see their communities from outside of a car or a bus. I get joy in empowering the folks I teach to ride to go out and use biking as another option of traveling and to ENJOY it!
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST REWARD IN TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
My greatest reward is when I see someone who told me they couldn’t ride a bike for various reasons, now biking. That makes my heart full.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PIECE OF ADVICE FOR AN LCI WHO WANTS TO TEACH A CLASS BUT ISN’T SURE HOW TO GET STARTED?
Talk to other LCI’s. Volunteer to assist other LCI’s during their events. Get involved in your biking community. Most importantly, DON’T GIVE UP!
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU THINK THAT ALL LCIS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT TEACHING BIKE EDUCATION?
Bike education is not one cookie-cutter curriculum. You must have the capability to adapt and learn from your students. You have to be able to be creative and willing to go that extra mile.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT BEING ON A BIKE?
My favorite thing about being on a bike is the freedom that I feel. Even on my worst days, when I get on my bike, it changes everything.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY FROM BEING ON A BIKE?
I have 2 memories. As a child, I wanted to learn to bike, so my sister decided to teach me by letting go of the bike. I went flying into bushes, but I got up and kept going! My second memory is as an adult when I’m biking and someone yells, I see you Bikenista! That is the best feeling!
Know an LCI who should be featured next? Nominate a stellar bike educator here!