Terry is a neighbor of mine who teaches english at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He and his wife both have Batavus Old Dutch bicycles. Terry’s is a black three speed coaster brake model that he bought from Williamson Cycle Works in Madison, WI. Rachael has a red one. Terry has upgraded his bike a bit with a few nice bits, like the Lepper saddle. Lepper is sort of the Brooks of Holland. His bike has most of the usual accessories that make a classic Dutch commuter: full chaincase, wheel lock, bell, dynamo powered lights, fenders, mudflap, heavy-duty rear rack and the evolution-approved upright riding position.
We chatted about bikes and attitudes as I pedaled along with Terry on his way to campus yesterday. “You know how long it takes me to drive to the university?” Terry asked suddenly “Thirty minutes … You know how long it takes me to bike? Thirty-five minutes,” he smiled.
“Riding a bike I get an hour of exercise each day and I don’t arrive at work angry. It’s not like I drive crazy, but I think that just getting behind the wheel of a car does something to people to make them stressed and get angry.” I have to agree with Terry on this one. Biking not only wakes me up in the morning, but at the same time it relaxes me. I’m not sure how the simple act of pedaling a bicycle can do both, but it does.
Terry has done his homework when it comes to the politics of transportation. Our conversation ranged from the quality of Milwaukee’s bicycle infrastructure compared to other cities to what it will take to get more people riding bikes for transportation. “You know it’s not you and me Dave,” he said.
I knew exactly what he was referring to. Until more women feel comfortable riding bicycles, we won’t get too much further. Terry has done some research on this topic as well. He told me about some studies in which women gave reasons why they don’t ride bikes. Many of the reasons were similar to those we discovered here in our previous posts on this issue. But one reason was new to me. Terry said his reading revealed that many women dislike exercising in public. I had not heard this before, but it may have to do with attracting unwanted attention from men.
In his course “College Writing and Research,” Terry chose commuting as the topic last semester. Many of his students choose to write about bicycle commuting for that class. Interesting how a Bicycle Spokesmodel can institutionalize advocacy no matter where he or she works.