First-Time Bike Commuters: Mentors Available

ALEXANDRIA, VA -The shutdown of Alexandria’s Metro stations on May 25 has many Alexandrians searching for alternative ways to get to work. For those considering commuting by bike, the Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee has launched a bike mentor program to assist residents who are trying to bike commute for the first time.

“Biking to work can seem intimidating, but there are lots of easy, low stress and low traffic routes between Alexandria, Arlington, and DC,” according to Josephine Liu, the program’s coordinator, and a regular bike commuter between Alexandria and DC.

Participants will be matched with a mentor who will work individually with each mentee to help with their specific needs. Mentors can help with planning a stress-free route, riding safely and confidently in traffic, and showing up to the office looking neat after a bike commute. Mentors can also ride along with mentees to ensure a successful commute. Each bike mentor is an experienced rider who lives or works in Alexandria. Several of the mentors are certified to teach bike safety classes by the League of American Bicyclists.

One mentor, Carolyn Schroeder, worked with Faatimah Muhammed, an Alexandria resident who works in DC. Schroeder and Muhammed met up in Alexandria one evening after work and rode together to Muhammed’s office, to test out one possible route. After the ride, Schroeder noted, “It was Faatimah’s first time riding in a while, but she did great!”

Schroeder was also able to help troubleshoot general commuting issues and highlight alternative routes and nearby bike paths. As Schroeder observed, “Even if you’re an athlete who rides for exercise, it’s a different thing to commute.”

“We have a great group of mentors ready to help you meet your needs, whether you don’t know where to start or you need help figuring out just one part of bike commuting. Our mentors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, but each one is experienced in teaching bicycling in a way that will make you feel comfortable,” Liu said.

In addition to assisting individuals wishing to bike commute, the program can also assist those interested in riding recreationally or using their bike to run errands.

“There are a lot of great trails in Alexandria that we can help you discover by bike. Using a bike is also a great way to get to the library or the farmer’s market or down the street to grab a loaf of bread. We can help you figure out how to make short trips safely and carry things on your bike,” Liu said.

Individuals wishing to be matched with a mentor should visit http://bit.ly/BPACmentoring. For additional information, contact Josephine Liu at BPACmentoring@gmail.com.

The Alexandria Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is an all-volunteer organization that promotes walking, biking, and other active transportation, and advocates for infrastructure, policy, and cultural changes that create a safe, accessible, and livable city for all. For more information on BPAC, please visit http://bit.ly/AboutBPAC.

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