Bicycle Commuter Profile: Cecily Walker

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Cecily Walker
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Started bike commuting: Approximately 6 years ago part-time and fair weather, but a little over a year ago I made it a full-time thing.
Commute distance (one way): 3.3km (a little over 2 miles)

Describe your commute: I recently moved to a different part of town, in part because I wanted to live closer to work, but also because I wanted to live someplace that made for a flatter commute. My daily ride takes me around Vancouver’s seawall, and over to a busy four-lane thoroughfare that passes under Rogers Arena. When I’m on this stretch, the only thing separating me from traffic is a stripe of paint. After that stretch, I bike up a couple of gentle hills on downtown streets that have only minimal traffic (but no striping or other bike infrastructure). I know 3KM doesn’t seem like much to people who put in 15 miles or more a day, but I use my bike for everything: approximately 99% of my daily trips, whether it’s to work, to the store, or to meet with friends are made by bicycle.

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Describe your bike and accessories: Elfie (named after Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West) is a Batavus Fryslan, a Dutch bike made by Batavus for the North American market. The story of how I came to own her isn’t exactly a good one, but I’m happy to report everything worked out well in the end.

I swapped the Fryslan’s default hand brake/coaster brake combination for two hand brakes, and I upgraded from the stock 5-speed internal hub to a 7 speed to help with Vancouver’s hills. I also added a Brooks B67s (aged) saddle to give her a bit more style. Accessories include a Basil shopper bag that clips onto her rack, a Po Campo bag that also attaches to the rack (on days when I need to carry a smaller load), and a Nutcase helmet. As a Dutch bike, she came with a rack, lights, fenders, and a chain case, standard.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: If you’re feeling daunted by it, start small. Try small trips to the grocery store, or combine your commute with transit – that’s how I began 6 years ago when I was commuting to the University of British Columbia (7 KM from home, uphill, on the cheapest bike in the bike store). And you don’t have to be a perfect commuter to make riding a bike part of your lifestyle. The most important thing is that you enjoy it.

I’d also like to add that if you’re a heavier rider like I am, don’t be afraid to express your concerns to your local bike shop. If they don’t treat your concerns with respect, take your dollars elsewhere. Heavier riders have different concerns than our thinner counterparts, and it pays in comfort and safety to tackle these issues head on when choosing a bike.

[To add your profile to the collection, please visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page. —ed.]

14 Responses to “Bicycle Commuter Profile: Cecily Walker”

  • dweendaddy says:

    I really like what you said about heavy riders – not something most bike shops in the US know anything about. The people who work there are typically half my weight and never have to consider spoke count, strength of saddles, and other things that fail when you get a big fella like me on a bike.
    So I would repeat your advice: bring that issue up front: is this bike made for people as big as I am? Are the wheels strong enough?

  • JP Atkinson says:

    Nicely written. Beautifully photographed. Very inspirational. Thank you!

  • Jesse says:

    I second that! I’ve had a bear of a time finding a shop here in Seattle that sees where I’m coming from with my concerns about my size. I’m 6’0″ and currently running around 240 (on its way down slowly). For them to tell me that the saddle I have is perfect for everyone…just doesn’t cut it when I can tell them with certainty that it’s not friendly at all…

    Thanks for mentioning it here, the more people realize that everyone can ride/commute or even go carfree (me) the better off we’ll all be!

  • Christopher Cove says:

    A great post and pictures! Great advise as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • Bobbyjohn says:

    Agreed, great post and really lovely photography :-)

  • Dolan Halbrook says:

    Great profile Cecily. I would have figured Vancouver would have better infrastructure.

  • Cecily says:

    Dolan, the infrastructure in Vancouver is getting better. The Dunsmuir and Hornby bike lanes, plus the Burrard Street Bridge bike lanes have made it easier for people who have longer commutes to get into downtown, but there are still some gaps. I’m hoping that as the host city for the Velo-City Global Cycling Conference in 2012, we’ll see some of those gaps addressed leading up to the conference.

    FWIW, there was an interesting debate on The Urban Country blog recently about how Vancouver marketed itself to attract the Velo-City conference:

  • sygyzy says:

    This is one of the best commuter profiles I have seen. There’s enough detail to allow me to picture what her commute is like. I love that she gave details about her bike and her writing style is very professional and just flows. The beautiful photography doesn’t hurt either. Great job Ms. Walker.

  • Roland Tanglao says:

    go cecily go! great photos as always, i will be submitting my Vancouver commuter profile soon!

  • One Vignette, Two Views — an intermittent record says:

    […] completely unrelated news, my bicycle commuter profile is up over at EcoVelo. […]

  • PaddyAnne says:

    Great Post Cecily!

  • Don Bybee says:

    I second and third every one on what a great post and photos. I particularly like the portrait on the bicycle. Classic urban cycling chic. The photo says it all.
    Sacramento, California

  • grrlyrida says:

    How refreshing to see a Black female cyclist. It’s rare that I see that on any cycling blog online. Beautiful photographed and profiled. Thanks Cecily and Alan.

  • Samantha says:

    Great profile! What a lovely photo of you and your bike Cecily! Your description of your commute had the perfect details so that l I could imagine you riding along the seawall (looking awesome) as I read it.

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