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Meet the Staff: Teri

Name: Teri
Occupation: Assistant Coordinator
Employer: Downtown On the Go
Gets around by: Riding my bike, taking a bus, or walking

Where do you live and where do you work?
I live in South Tacoma near Gray Middle School. I work in Downtown Tacoma. I  help out with the Walk, Bike, Transit and Live Downtown programs at Downtown On the Go.

How do you get there?
My commute always involves my trusty bicycle!

Sometimes I bike all the way. If I’m in a hurry, I go down South Tacoma Way; there are bike lanes for part of the way, but they end at each intersection; you have to merge back into car traffic every few blocks, which is a pain. If I want a more leisurely ride, I bike north on Tyler St. (bike lane the whole way!), east on the Scott Pierson Trail, then through Hilltop.

Being a new mother, I don’t find much time to read at home, so sometimes I take Pierce Transit Route 3 most of the way to work which gives me time to relax.

I leave my bike in one of the bike cages downtown if I’m going to keep it parked all day. If I know I’ll be running errands for work, I just lock it on the sidewalk outside of my building.

I like to change up my commute all the time to keep it interesting!

How does it all add up? How much money and time do you save?
My family doesn’t own a car at all, so we save a lot of money. We invest money into our bicycles to make sure they are reliable and we have a Zipcar membership.
 Not owning a car also means that exercise is built into every trip we take- no failed New Year’s resolutions to visit the gym everyday. We are healthier today and it’s also an investment in our future health.

My employer pays for my ORCA card (bus pass) and secure bike parking. Talk to your employer and see what benefits they can offer to you!

What’s in it for you?
I really need all the outside time I can get. Even when it’s rainy or overcast, nothing beats fresh air and natural light. Even if I initially feel tired in the morning, I always feel more awake and productive after a walk or a bike ride. It’s a great way to start and end my work day.

I also like how recognizable a person is when walking or biking. People recognize me, and I easily recognize my friends and neighbors when I see them walking or biking. It helps create community and always puts a smile on my face when I can wave “hello” to someone I recognize on the street.

Do you have any tips for people who might be trying this mode for the first time?
If you’re new to biking, first try out biking around your neighborhood or to the store, then take longer and longer rides til you feel comfortable getting all the way to work. Try out the route at a time that isn’t rush hour, so you can get familiar with it. If you’re a lady, you could check out VeloFemmes, a group of ladies in Tacoma who like to bike. (We’re a women-focused group, but everyone is welcome to come!) Here’s the Facebook & Website.

As for the bus, get an ORCA card. It makes it easier to pay your fare, and you can add a monthly pass to it, if you ride the bus frequently. It automatically gives you a transfer for 2 hours. Some employers offer free or subsidized bus passes- you should ask the H.R. person at your work! It might seem obvious but- carry a bus book! The Pierce Transit trip planner and One Bus Away smart phone app are also helpful. Bus drivers, Pierce Transit security guards, and other people taking the bus are all good resources too! If you’re ever unsure of where your stop is, just tell the bus driver. I love when a person asks me a question about a bus route that I can answer!

For walking, just relax and remember that it won’t be as fast as other modes of transportation, but that’s part of the fun!  You’ll have plenty of time to look around and take in your surroundings. Take slightly different routes or walk down staircases and alleyways that you might not otherwise use. If you’re new to walking downtown, you can take an audio tour using your smart phone at TourPup.

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