by Erica Hann, Americorps Community Programs Assistant
My AmeriCorps term: 10.5 months, 1700 hours
Miles ridden as a CBC AmeriCorps: 3,007 (yes, I kept track)
Number of helmet boxes lugged: ~77.8
Perspective broadening, crazy amounts of learning, sore (but strong) quads: priceless
I realize that was a bit corny, but as my AmeriCorps term at Cascade draws to a close, it is difficult to quantify all the ways I have benefitted from my time here. I began the 10 1/2-month service term last October as a stranger to bike commuting and a relative bike newbie in general — getting that bike chain grease tattoo on my calf was a pretty much daily occurrence!
Today, though I still have minimal mechanic chops and haven’t really improved my speed uphill (they really never get any easier!), I have gained a world of appreciation for the bicycle as a form of transportation, tool for community engagement, and fantastic de-stressor/conversation enhancer. I can’t count the number of times I struggled with a problem for hours at my desk, and had the solution magically descend as soon as I started the pedal home!
Through my work as the Community Programs Assistant, I’ve gotten to interact with all kinds of people through the lens of riding a bike. From motivating kids to ride to school during Bike Month, to explaining the importance of a well-fitting helmet, to mailing safety information as far away as Wales (there is a Give 3 feet sticker there somewhere), I’ve heard so many stories about why folks love to ride, why they want to start, or sometimes why they can’t or don’t. I’ve learned some of the best bike routes through Seattle through these conversations, and gained at least a slight understanding of why it is great/challenging/beautiful/healthy to ride a bike around Seattle and the surrounding area.
Ultimately, I will be leaving Cascade feeling like I have just scratched the surface of what bicycling can mean and do in the big picture. Along with these sentiments, though, I will take away a lifelong love for two-wheeled, human-powered transportation and a great admiration for all the incredible work that is being (and will be) done at Cascade. Thanks to everyone, both on staff and in the Seattle bike world, who has made my time here so transformative and fantastic. Keep on rollin!