Bicycle Commuter Profile: Pete Olson

Bicycle Commuter Profile

Name: Pete Olson
Location: Ladysmith, Wisconsin
Started bike commuting: I increased my commuting and utility riding in 2008
Commute distance (one way): This summer it is .8 miles.

Describe your commute: My wife and I are teaching biking classes for elementary and middle school students this summer. We have a short ride to the log cabin/environmental ed classroom that is our base. Although our commute is short, we end up with about 75 miles a week counting the riding during the classes. I am now retired but I do work part time as a school psychologist in rural school districts. The distances are too far for me to bike the whole way but I do some combinations of driving part way and then riding.

Describe your bike and accessories: My utility bike is a repainted 1992 Bridgestone MB-2 with a Softride stem. I use a BOB trailer for hauling tools and supplies to the cabin.

What bit of advice would you like to share with new bike commuters?: Especially if you’re older, keep the time and distances sustainable.

[Visit our Bicycle Commuter Profiles page to add your profile to the collection. —ed.]

8 Responses to “Bicycle Commuter Profile: Pete Olson”

  • KrisAnne says:

    Hi Pete! I spent a lot of time in Ladysmith last summer doing an opera and wished I’d had my bike with me!

  • voyage says:

    What I like most about this post: “My wife and I are teaching biking classes for elementary and middle school students this summer.”

    I suspect there is a lot more of this bikey teaching and learning in schools than gets reported. And there should be more of this activity (hint, hint…)

    Oh, and the bike is nice!

  • Molnar says:

    What I like most about this post is the point that you can substitute a bicycle for a car on a portion of the commute even if you don’t do the whole thing. Every bit helps.

  • Pete Olson says:

    KrisAnne- We saw the opera and enjoyed it greatly. It was fun to hear professionally trained singers and local people, who I know, performing together.

  • Cullen Carter says:

    Peter,

    Hello from Appleton, WI!

    Are those biking classes a new thing that school’s are offering? Are you actually teaching this through a school?

    What are they like? What sorts of things do you normally teach?

  • Pete Olson says:

    Callen-
    This class has been offered for a few years but is the first year for Anney and me teaching it. It was through the local public school system summer school in June and early July, so we have finished it. It was billed as “Bicycling Adventures” and was basically a recreational course (my wife is a health, phys ed, and adaptive PE teacher). We had a 4 hour day plus 1/2 hour prep with two class sections of 11 students each, who will be in grades 4-7 next fall. We had activities revolving around riding and we taught by doing rather than following a bicycling curriculum. For example we have biked to and then geocached on hiking trails, we biked to a farm to see bison, we did a community historical scavenger hunt, we biked to a grocery store to buy ingredients for and then made trail bars, etc. While I am almost always a vehicularist in my own cycling, we didn’t always follow John Forester rules strictly with the students. For example we rode on the sidewalk but yielding to pedestrians for a narrow U.S. Highway bridge and I would have the group stop and cross high traffic roads as pedestrians in crosswalks (our Wisconsin law is for cars to yield). We emphasized predictability and signaling intentions clearly. An observation reinforced this summer is that this is a squirrelly age to work with. We had one of our boys just swerve and end up in a ditch for no particular reason and a girl who doesn’t seem impulsive at all run into a rural mail box (ours actually). We had nothing more serious than a bruise or a scrape needing a band-aid but it does make you really worry about avoiding cars.l

  • Cullen Carter says:

    Pete,

    Thanks for your quick reply. Although, you say the course was primarily recreational, it sounds like the kids learned a lot!

    The bicycle will inevitably become our main method of transportation. So, it’s important for people to get used to dealing with them.

    These kids have a head start on that!

    Is the class pretty popular.

    What school did you teach this through? Does the class have a webpage?

  • Pete Olson says:

    Cullen-
    I like to think we will see an increased biking ride share in small towns like mine. It is certainly feasible as none of my errand rides are farther than about 5 miles one-way. As for the class, it was through ladysmith school district but there isn’t any information at the ladysmith.k12.wi.us website. All the summer school classes regardless of grade level were held at the Ladysmith High School and our cabin was in the 30 acre woods just east of there. We could use the HS building for running water and internet connection (like checking weather radar). I was happy with out student numbers which made for manageable groups for two adults. One of us could stay with a student having mechanical problems or just having trouble with the pace that day. While we haven’t done anything with a website, my wife Anney and I have worked with student groups (high schoolers) in publishing local guide brochures describing mostly hiking but some biking routes in the area.

 
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