Going into college at Ohio State, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I was going to study business, intern with some Columbus sports teams, then go back home to Philadelphia, where I would get a job with the Phillies. Somehow I would work my way from an entry level marketing position up to general manager and bring yearly World Series parades down Broad Street.
The only problem with this plan (yes, mhmm, there was only one problem) was that I didn’t really care for any of my business classes. After stumbling upon a Geography course to fulfill a Gen Ed requirement, I became much more interested in sustainability and how the built environment affects the natural environment and vice versa. Unfortunately, it was a bit too late to change majors without extending my time (and debt) in college, so I stuck with the business degree while trying to include as many sustainability related classes as I could.
During my senior year, while still trying to figure out what to do with my life, I had the chance to mix my degree with my real interests and take a sustainable business course which included a spring break trip to Denmark. While there, I was able to experience the phenomenon that is Danish cycling culture and something clicked. “Bikes!” “I need to work with bikes!”. Before this trip, bikes were just something that I used for sport and that college students used to get to class. Now I saw how whole cities could be built for bicycling and the positive effects that had on its’ people and the environment. There was very little congestion or pollution because less than half of the population regularly drove cars. Businesses thrived because people passed by slower and had an easier time stopping or parking than they would in a car. Most importantly, everyone was healthier because they were getting exercise everyday just by commuting to work or school, or running errands.
Returning to Ohio, it became painfully obvious how much US bike infrastructure left to be desired. While some of it was suitable for college students, or competitive cyclists, there was now a noticeable lack of kids, families, and just regular people out riding. Like most places in the US, Columbus was designed for people to drive to work, drive to the grocery store, and drive to the park. Not surprisingly, that’s what people did.
A few months later I graduated from OSU without much idea of what exactly to do, so, like most 20-somethings with a college degree, I moved back home to work in retail. The next year, after reading everything I could about bicycling and city planning I managed to land an internship with the Bicycle Coalition of Philadelphia. For the first time in my (admittedly short) working career, I was truly passionate about the organization I worked for. While mostly helping with donor management I did get a glimpse into the advocacy and education side of bicycling. By the end of summer the internship was coming to an end, and it was time to start looking for a full-time gig. After scouring the webs for everything and anything that looked interesting, I found what is probably the most awesome place ever to work, Kids on Bikes!
Since starting here, I’ve had the pleasure of leading bike education programs and rides all over the city. I’ve also been able to see huge leaps in Colorado Springs’ bike-ability. With the combination of continuously improving bike infrastructure and consistently expanding programs, I’m hopeful that we’ll soon have a city where most kids feel safe riding to school and can live healthier lives.