1. What made you want to join Bike Friendly Fort Worth?
I want to ease the tension that I perceive between drivers and cyclists. From what I’ve observed, the bad behavior goes both ways. I think there is a place for everyone on the road, and we all have the right to arrive at our destinations safely. BFFW’s mission and values are in line with what I think it would take to make that a reality rather than just a dream.
2. When and why did you start cycling?
I’ve been riding since I was five years old. My bicycle has always been an instrument of freedom. When I was a kid, it would carry me away from home. Now, it frees me from having to work a second job to pay for and maintain a car. Instead, I get to spend that time with those I love and doing the things I love. Selling my car four years ago was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I have met some amazing people while riding my bike. I appreciate how it forces you to slow down and see what is going on around you. It’s much easier to meet and chat with your neighbors when you’re not flying by in a giant metal box.
3. How have your riding habits changed since then?
My riding habits haven’t really changed since I first started riding. I have become more cautious with age, but that is probably normal. I’m fortunate that my father was well trained in urban cycling as a child in Norway, and he taught me to ride the same way.
4. What’s your favorite cycling memory?
My favorite memories as a kid are riding my bike through neighborhoods and on the trails, in Salt Lake City and then in Fort Worth, with my younger brother and sister. I rode a blue 1980 Schwinn World Tourist three-speed with a step-through frame, complete with fenders, and a rear rack. Oh, how I loved that bicycle. Other kids had newer, faster bikes, but even then, I was more interested in cruising around and being able to carry stuff. Our father made sure we knew how to fix a flat, so we didn’t worry about venturing too far from home. I dreamed of exploring the world on my bicycle. The only limit was how far my legs could take me. We spent most of the summer on our bicycles, carrying backpacks stuffed with water bottles, peanut butter sandwiches, and apples. We would lunch in the woods and parks alongside the trails, climb trees, catch frogs in the creek, and occasionally ride our bikes through the culverts (shhh, don’t tell my mother). It was glorious.
5. What area of Fort Worth do you feel needs the most attention with bike infrastructure?
I would love to see more cycle tracks and bike lanes in addition to signage reminding drivers that cyclists have a place on the road even when there isn’t striping for them. There seems to be a lack of understanding, in general, as to what the rights and responsibilities of cyclists are.
In my dream world, there would also be a ban on cell phone use while driving. I realize this isn’t infrastructure per se, but distracted drivers undermine the safety of even the best-planned infrastructure.
6. What does a bike-friendly Fort Worth actually look like?
A bike-friendly Fort Worth would be a place where people could travel safely and un-harassed to and from their destinations, regardless of transit mode selected. Sometimes I feel like a need a sign on my back that says, “Please be kind. I’m trying to get home to my kids too.”
7. What’s the best advice you can give to someone that doesn’t bike but would like to start?
Start slow. Don’t expect to be able to or be comfortable with riding all over town without practice. Once you are comfortable riding five miles or so, on your own, find a group to join. There are many different kinds of cycling groups in Fort Worth. Besides being fun, you can learn a lot about routes and techniques by riding with other people.