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Getting Around on a Tricycle!

Updated: May 24

Recently, I met with Jen Quinlan who leads marketing efforts for the gesture recognition startup Rithmio. While Jen commutes by train to Chicago, she rides frequently when at home in Champaign, IL. Her "wheels" for getting around are most unusual -- a tricycle!

Why did you start riding?

I became interested in using a bicycle to get around town while living in Austin, TX. For barhopping or exploring neighborhoods, it seemed like a great way to get a workout and enjoy smaller quirks to neighborhoods that you'd miss while driving in a car.

Also over the past few years I've been trying to get back into working out more. I had started kettlebell weight training and I was looking for something fun to do that would help me burn some extra calories. Biking was the perfect fit.

Unfortunately I don't ride a bike to work every day, as I live in Champaign and commute back-and-forth to Chicago via Amtrak. Although, you can actually take your bike on Amtrak for those folks that are interested in exploring other areas of Illinois.

Tell us about your ride(s). What do you like/dislike?

My favorite thing to do is to ride my bike on the weekend with my husband around Champaign-Urbana. We bike to record stores, lunch spots, concerts, parks, to play tennis, going thrift store shopping / garage sales and hitting up pubs. There are lots of brick streets that are lined with 100 y.o. trees and lots of Victorian homes on certain streets in Champaign. I enjoy riding in the afternoon and looking at houses.

I feel anxious riding at night. I'm afraid of getting hit by a drunk driver or someone not paying attention while driving. I have lights on my bike and I keep a headlamp in my purse to wear when riding. I'm curious if down the road there will be cost effective and easy to put on / ball up reflective attire.

You have an unusual bike, can you tell us about it?

I do! For an anniversary, my husband got me a tricycle. I love it so much. It is a deep blue, has a bell with skull & crossbones, and a big basket on the back. I've fit all types of things in the back basket like a Pug (he jumped out very promptly), pizza box, growler of beer, vegetables - you name it.

While I technically have three gears, I rarely use them. The tricycle is perfect for Illinois as majority of places I go are flat. In Austin, TX neighborhoods are often quite hilly. I found I had to walk the tricycle uphill very often as it did' have the "grit" (or maybe I didn't) to tackle those hills on 100+ degree days.

One cool feature about the tricycle is that it folds. This made it easier to pack up when were moving,and in theory I think I can fit it in the back of my car.

Overall, tricycle is a blast to ride. I really enjoy it a ton.

What was it like riding in Austin?

If you visit Austin, TX check out the white "ghost" bicycles that are placed where bicyclists have died. They're beautiful and a good reminder to be safe.

I also was really impressed with cargo bikes in Austin - amazing what people built to carry a lot on a few wheels.

Also the pedi cab scene in Austin is fun. There were Game of Thrones pedi cabs and even a Darth Vader one! (see picture).

Any thoughts on what would encourage more women to bike commute?

Working at a startup, it is socially acceptable for both men and women to wear attire that is more casual. At past places I've worked, it was encouraged to be more dressed up - which in doing so, can make it tricky for women to align with the image of "professional" or "business casual" with matted hair, sweat, makeup dripping down your face, etc.

Thinking gender neutral, it would be helpful if more offices had showers at work and locker rooms for people to get ready to workout / change after working out (or commuting via bicycle). Also buildings investing in safe / easy bicycle parking areas would be useful too.

Your advice for fellow bike commuters?

I am merely a novice when it comes to getting around town via a bicycle. I've found my headlamp to come in very handy. I also like having 1-2 carabiners on my bicycle to use to strap bags or items purchased in place.

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