DAY 15: Women who love their two-wheel commute

Molly and Libby prefer getting to work by bicycle. What about you?

It’s a great day to hear from women about what’s important to them. Molly and Libby are Houston moms who would rather bike than drive to work.

Molly changed jobs and has an easier commute

Molly started commuting by bike last year.

A year ago, Molly worked for an interior designer in the Heights. The drive there wasn’t bad, but she also had to drive as part of her job. “I was going sometimes the whole day in my car, and I didn’t want to repeat that,” she said. “The traffic has changed dramatically in the last three years.”

She now works two jobs closer to her home. She bikes to her job a mile away at St. Thomas University and walks to a job five blocks away at Brazos Bookstore. Molly knows that a lot of customers ride to the bookstore. In her neighborhood, she passes women riding to the grocery store and to exercise classes. Sometimes she sees entire families from her daughter’s school riding bikes.

Style is important to Molly. Her new cruiser-style commuter bike gets lots of compliments.

Safety is Molly’s biggest concern. “I feel safe, but I really have to map out a path,” she said. She prefers a route on wide neighborhood streets rather than a more direct route on heavily traveled Bissonnet. Her biggest obstacle is crossing Richmond Avenue. “If I don’t feel safe, I’ll walk my bike across the street.”

Knowing that no bike lock is unbreakable, Molly brings her bike into the office at St. Thomas. “When I have my bike at the office, it’s a total talking point. People are so happy to see it. I have a cute bike,” she said. She also gets lots of comments from people who say they would like to ride to work but are scared to try.

Libby sold her car and doesn’t miss it

Libby commutes on this 1986 Bianchi. “I’m so comfortable on it. I just know it,” she said.

If Libby was ever scared about commuting by bike, that wore off long ago. The Heights resident has commuted by bicycle for 11 years. Last year she sold her car.

Five days a week she hauls her two-year-old son to daycare using a trailer equipped with adjustable suspension. Her son is a big reason that Libby rides, she said. “I don’t want him to start correlating going to the park with being in the car for 30 minutes. I want it to be like, ‘yay!’”

Three days a week, Libby rides 7-1/2 miles one way to help a friend who’s starting a business near Woodway and Bering. “People think that 7-1/2 miles is really far. I always find that kind of funny. It doesn’t cross my mind to go in the car.”

One reason may be the small time difference. Libby can cover the distance in 35 minutes on her bike, while traffic congestion makes it a 25-minute car trip.

Libby plans her rides using Google Maps. “I love, love, love it,” she said. Unlike Molly, Libby sometimes feels safer riding on a busy street than a neighborhood street. “People on side streets don’t pay attention. That’s where they’re looking at their phones while driving.”

Learn more about bicycle commuting at the League of American Bicyclists and BikeHouston.

Libby says she doesn’t see other women bike commuters on her route. Why don’t more women bike to work? “I think it has to do with appearance, that you have to show up to the workplace looking a certain way. I think it’s a vanity thing,” she explained. Typically, Libby rides in jeans and a shirt and doesn’t wear makeup. She wears her hair up. “I look presentable wherever I show up.”

She and her husband met riding bicycles. While he has a car, sometimes his job takes him—and the family wheels—away for several days. Being without a car isn’t a problem for Libby. Sometimes she and her son ride the bus.

When her son is old enough to attend nearby Harvard Elementary, Libby says she won’t think twice about letting him ride his bike. “I grew up in Clear Lake, and I remember riding my bike on the first day of kindergarten.”

Photo credits: evening ride by poisson lucas‘This one runs on fat & saves you money’ by Peter Drew of Adelaide by Carlton Reid