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.
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.]