City of San Diego, CA

08/02/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/01/2020 21:14

Better By Bike - Rider Spotlight - Sylvie Froncek

Rider Spotlight

How long have you been bicycling and how did you get started?

I started riding bikes when I was 5. We lived in a pretty rough neighborhood in Chicago so I couldn't ride in the streets near my house. I used to just do tiny laps on my tricycle in a small gated courtyard. I started riding seriously when I was 13. I registered for an AIDS Ride for Life and rode 115 miles around Cayuga Lake in Ithaca, NY. A friend of mine encouraged me to raise money and do the ride and that got me hooked on biking to school, biking around town and using it as a way to get space, de-stress and feel free.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get started going by bike?

Getting into biking is hard. There are lots of barriers to entry that need to be acknowledged and worked through to make biking feel like a viable transportation option. With that said, there is a great community of people who ride bikes and finding the right community can give you access to many of the resources that are difficult to amass as one person. I heard a great story about how Mountain Biker Brooklyn Bell starting riding. She didn't even consider cycling until a customer at the coffee shop where she worked invited her to go for a ride and he offered to lend her a bike.

So for someone who is thinking about getting into biking, find your people first! They can give you advice on the kind of bike to get, places to ride, safety tips, commuter tricks. Part of getting into biking is about building the confidence to ride on the streets, or enter bike shops, or ask questions when things don't feel right. Social riding groups, or advocacy organizations are a great place to reach out to first if you're intrigued or overwhelmed.

How do protected bike lanes support your commute?

I personally choose my route based on the types of roads, the number of stops, the hills and the scenery, not the distance or the bike lanes. Sometimes the best roads are the ones that are out of the way - quiet side streets where you don't feel threatened by traffic. There are a few bike lanes that I like riding as part of my commute because they make me feel more visible to people in cars. I find that bike lanes are often on busier roads, but when the bike lanes abruptly end you find yourself in a much more dangerous space than you would be if you stuck to small side roads. University Avenue is an example of this. It's not a good route for getting for point A to B because the bike lanes just end at scary intersections and the side streets are not good alternatives.

Where are your favorite places to bike to in San Diego?

I don't really do recreational rides, I just ride for utility purposes. I used to take Meade Ave. as my route home from work and that's great because it's a really wide road without many stop signs and people don't drive too fast.

What makes San Diego a great place to bike?

The physical environment makes San Diego appear to be a great place for biking. The climate is good all year round, it's not too hilly, and there are lots of neighborhoods.

What's the one thing you think people should know about biking?

People should think about how the car culture mind set plays into their riding habits. Many people who start riding think like a driver. They look for the fastest or shortest routes. They pick places to go out of habit, not convenience or efficiency. They try to use their bike like a car. Instead we need to look at the city in a totally different way. Which trips could you take on a bike instead? What if you went to the grocery in your neighborhood and bought fewer items at one time so that you could transport them on your bike rack? What if you avoid the direct route, instead adding 10 minutes or another mile onto your route, but choose a scenic way around, through neighborhoods with safe streets?

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