A little more than a year ago, commuting to work by bike seemed like a really great, healthy, money-saving, green idea-for other people, that is. But me actually biking downtown? That sounded, well, terrifying.
A year later, I now bike almost every day, to almost everywhere I go. I’m never quite sure which reason to name first when I’m asked why I bike -because it’s fun and fast, because I like to get out my door and go, because I automatically get my exercise in, because it’s free, etc. – but getting to this point was no small step for me.
Part of that feat was personally overcoming my fears, but there were some really helpful external factors too. Here at UWMC, I’ve enjoyed the support of my co-workers, and the thumbs-up and way-to-go’s gave me a lot of encouragement, especially when I first got started. UWMC’s involvement last year in the Bike Commuter Challenge provided space for me to learn more about biking to work, and connect with other like-minded folks-both the regular and the tentative/occasional bike-commuters. In fact, it was during the Bike Commuter Challenge week that I biked 5 workdays in a row for the first time-including a UW event in the Loop itself. I’d strolled around neighborhoods and I’d made it to our former office on the edge of the Loop, but heading into the heart of the Loop was my final biking frontier. (And now my fear hasn’t vanished just because of habit and skill– with more protected lanes in the Loop, it’s become way more bike-friendly!) And once I realized I could do it and felt good about it€¦ why stop?
Riding my bike, I feel healthier, and I’ve gotten to know my community in new and wonderful ways. I want to spread that great feeling, and I’m excited that UWMC is again participating in the Bike Commuter Challenge this year (June 8-14). Whether it’s one trek to work or a daily routine, get out on those two wheels and enjoy the Chicago summer!
Submitted on behalf of Shira Saliman, Manager of Community Investment Operations and Evaluation at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago.