Commuter Spotlight wi Shannon O’Dell

1. How long have you been participating in CommuteSmart?  

I started a few years ago on the program, I used to carpool with a person that lasted about 3 or 4 months, and now I have been commuting by bicycle for the last 2 months. So contiguous months about 6 months.

 2.  How did you get started biking to work?

Up until recently I had been living a very sedate lifestyle. I lived in the suburbs in Hoover in a very nice neighborhood, but if I wanted to go anywhere, I had to drive to get there.  Shopping, the gym, cycling, going to the park, I loaded up the family into an SUV and we headed out. I had also gotten sick of driving. I was spending too much time in traffic stopped with my car idling paying $3.50 a gallon and running my air conditioning for anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour a day. After commuting that day, I didn’t want to go anywhere because I had just gotten done fighting traffic. (Fighting traffic is an apt name for it) At some point early this year I saw a picture on Facebook that had cars stuck in traffic at night that had the caption “Let’s have a moment of silence for all those who are stuck in traffic on their way to the gym to ride stationary bicycles.” That picture hit home. In July my family moved to Avondale which was a conscious decision that my wife and I made to try and have a healthier more active lifestyle. We live by Avondale Park and walk and ride a lot around the park and downtown.

 3.  What benefits have you seen from participating in the program?

My wallet is much heavier since I typically spent around $180 in gas just on my commute every month. I also am feeling healthier and more energetic.  I now am seeing how long I can go without having to refill my gas tank. I am at 6 weeks without refill right now. 

 4.  Are there any advantages to biking to work or taking an alternative commute?

 When I am biking I notice a lot more on my route. When I was in driving, my goal was to get to where I am going as fast as I can, now I look at really great architecture, some awesome graffiti, wave at pedestrians and other bikers. I change up my path depending on my need for exercise or leisure. I feel as if I am connected to the community I am occupying rather than feeling like someone just trying to get the commute over with so I can start my day. My day starts with a smile instead of a scowl now.

 5.  Would you recommend CommuteSmart to other people?

I already do. I am trying to get our friends to move closer to us and commute with me into downtown Birmingham.

 6.  If you have any additional comments or statements to make about CommuteSmart.

I have really enjoyed CommuteSmart’s community activities like Bike to Work Day and now that I am biking so much, I love seeing and using all the bike racks everywhere that CommuteSmart has sponsored in the city.



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