Hi my name is Jolie Justus, I am 47 years old and my first bicycle was given to me by my Uncle Jeff. It was 1976 and he had just finished a cross-country bicycle ride and he wanted to share with the only grandchild in the family at the time the love of bicycling, so he gave me my first bike when I was five years old. So as an adult I rode bicycles on my college campus, the University of Missouri, and then frankly once I left Columbia, Missouri I just did not ride a bike again until about I’d say 15 years ago. I was asked to be the head or the chair or the honorary something or other for a charity bike ride and I said I’m happy to do it but I don’t ride bikes. They said, “we will get you back on one,” and I did it and never looked back after that.
It’s been interesting because once I started riding again, I still only started riding for fun and not for commuting or anything like that. When I am on a bicycle the same songs that would go through my head like when I was a kid. Just that feeling of everything is left behind and going as fast as I can, that was tremendous. But it was just really only doing bicycling on trails, weekends it was fun in doing it, but I think about nine months ago I got rid of my car and for the first time I started thinking about using a bicycle for transportation. And I have been terrified to ride my bike on the streets, and especially the streets of Kansas City, which until very recently have not had a lot of facilities for being able to ride bikes safely. But once you get rid of your car you start thinking about other ways to get around the city and the bus is very easy, the streetcar, my feet, I’m a privileged person who I chose my house so that it would be close to the bus and close to my jobs, but now I want to add bicycling into it and the fear of the streets thing was my barrier.
This is going to sound completely ridiculous but one of the things that has kind of gotten my fear to move away is these stupid scooters that are everywhere right now, because I wanted to just jump on one and see what it was like. I put my helmet on and I started riding them and now I’m using scooters to supplement my walking and my streetcar, and my busing and I now have some road confidence that I didn’t have before, so now I’m folding in bicycling as well. So it’s a weird way to get to where I am, but you know everybody’s journey is different. And that’s what I am thankful for: with the scooters and the electric assisted bicycles that are on the way, is that it’s getting people into the streets who hadn’t been there before and they are starting to understand the importance of slowing traffic down and the other precautions and measures that we’re taking as a city to make it more bike-friendly. My experience first as a pedestrian and then as a public transit user and now as someone who is commuting more on bicycles, it’s so much better than a car driver’s experience. You see so many cool things. The fact the I get to really experience my city, instead of just flying by it, my life is better because of it.