We’ve all been there: You get in the car and begin driving your normal route, only to hit construction and be re-routed to another street, or traffic that forces you to creep along at a snail’s pace. In your annoyance, you glance out the window and spy a cyclist whizzing by and think, ‘Man, I need to get one of those.’
For Sean Lowery, commuting by bike is more than a summertime hobby - it’s a way of life. The 27-year-old Marine Villa resident has been commuting on two wheels for three years now, and has created a whole new transportation lifestyle for himself.
Lowery owns two bicycles – a 1973 fixed-gear Schwinn Varsity he uses for daily commuting and a 1983 Raleigh Olympian bicycle outfitted with fenders and front and rear racks for transporting groceries. He has a one-way, five mile commute that he takes year-round.
Six months ago, he became vehicle free when his truck was stolen from the driveway. He decided to savor the moment of being without four wheels and has yet to replace it.
“I called my mom and said, ‘Well hey look – a big weight has been lifted off my shoulders,'" Lowery said. "'I don’t have to worry about maintenance or gas or insurance.'”
Some excerpts from the interview:
Challenges: “The weather is a daily challenge. That’s something that maybe inhibits a lot of people from riding to work is that they think ‘Oh, I’m going to get all sweaty.’ Riding in the wintertime, riding in the rain, definitely it’s a learned skill. I drive maybe once every three weeks just to get dog food. I do still have a driver’s license.”
Pedestrian/driver relationship: “I feel like I see a lot of the same people every morning just because I’m there sometime between 7:30 a.m. and 8 a.m. every day, and they usually give me a pretty wide berth. I don’t really see it as a me vs. them – it’s an us -together-both-getting-there-safely type of thing. Despite what you might think, they don’t want to run you over – I would hope not, anyway.”
On bucking the hipster trend: “I think if you were to look at the general demographics of bikers in St. Louis, you would find a whole spectrum of people, whether there be middle aged men or young women, everybody can do it. We should just be happy that there are more bikes on the road.”
ShiftYourCommute.com – A Trailnet-sponsored site that allows users to track how often and far they ride – and calories burned. Includes a ‘Workplace Challenge’ for companies and organizations to win prizes for going car-free.
Great Rivers Greenway – A regional resource on commuting outdoors in multiple ways, including news updates and an on-street path and trail locator.
St. Louis Biking Reddit page – a community forum where riders can ask general bicycle questions, post about events, and invite other riders to meet up.
Follow Erin Williams on Twitter: @STLPR_Erin