In his own words: Dan on earning a bike

By Britt Appleton, Social Media Specialist

On December 12, 2010, Dan earned a bicycle through a Create a Commuter workshop at Central City Concern. Since then he started working at Salvation Army, and became an avid bike commuter. Dan takes a lot of pride in his bike. He bought a trip meter so that he could keep up with his mileage, a pannier, and a new bike pump. He is also very proactive with bike maintenance. In his own words, Dan explains what bike commuting means to him:

“I want to bike to work. I like it. It’s faster than the bus. It doesn’t cost you any money. It almost killed me when I first started. I was out of shape. I would show up way early so I had time to cool down before my shift. But it doesn’t take very long to get into it. Pretty soon I was down from a 30-35 minute ride to 18 minutes. The only time I don’t ride my bike is on Sunday because I don’t want helmet head, which I deal with the rest of the week.

Eventually maybe I would have gotten [a bike] on my own, but probably not. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it because of the Schwinn frame. Everyone’s like, “Ooh, a Schwinn! Old school.” I’ve passed on some of the information that I’ve learned from the workshop, some of the safety stuff. At church we have the Adventure Core; it’s like Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. One of the badges they were working for was kind of a safety thing, with signs, cars, and bikes, that sort of thing. One of the days that we met we [talked] about bikes so I kind of took over that one. Kalani is one of the Core officers and he was going by his book and I was like, ‘It doesn’t have everything that should be there, so let me throw this in, and this in.’ I was able to pass on a little of what you guys have taught me.

Dan at the Create a Commuter Workshop in 2010

Health wise, there’s a big benefit to it. I lost weight. It’s a big part of my life now. There have been a couple of times I left it at work, for one reason or another, and then had to bus it the next day, and I just felt bad about not being able to ride. I ride it enough just for commuting where I don’t go out and joyride. That’s something I really want to do. I told myself last summer I was going to try to get that done. I do like to do that Oaks Park thing and back, on the esplanade. I’ve gotten myself a map for [Forest Park], but I’m not sure about doing that with this bike or not. But there are some easy trails. It’s not all mountain bike trails. I’d like to try to make it up there, get some more pleasure riding in.

You do notice a lot more. It’s the same walking or taking the bus. If you’re not driving, you pay a lot more attention to what’s out there. You see the little shops and stuff. ‘Well hey, I’m going to stop there some day. I’ve never seen that before.’ And it’s been there for years. You just see more. It’s like taking time out to smell the roses. You’re not in a car, or on a bus staying on the main drags all the time. You can cut through neighborhoods, see the beauty of things, and smell the flowers, the fresh cut grass, or whatever.

I look at it this way. I don’t know how [bike commuting] works for everybody, but I think one thing that really helped me when I first got a job, I was capable of getting to work and back, without having any funds for bus money. When I was looking for work, it opened up places I could work. I could bus it part way, and bike the other part. On Swan Island you could still be a couple miles from a warehouse, but that’s no big deal on a bike. But walking? You’re going to add a lot of extra commute time, or, you get to these places that the buses don’t run at certain hours. It really opened doors about where I could put applications in.

I really like your organization. I really appreciate what you’ve done for me, and what you’ve done for other people. For one, it’s saved me a lot of money. I’m sure if I was going to tell the doctor about it he’d be thanking you, too – heart and lungs, and the weight has come off. There are a lot of health benefits to it.”

Thank you so much to Dan for sharing his story with us. We shared Juan’s story last month, which you can read here.
To learn more about our Create a Commuter program, click here.
To help others earn a bike through Create a Commuter, make a gift here.

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