Originally from northern England, Jonathan Miller, Director of the Olin Library at Rollins College, didn’t even have a driver’s license when he moved to the United States in the 1980’s. In England, he had ridden a bike his whole life and commuted when he worked in London in the 1980’s (ten miles each way).
Quickly he realized that to survive our car-oriented country, he’d need to learn to drive and get a license. Reluctantly, he did so before moving to Winter Park in 2006.
“In Pittsburgh, I had a 20-mile commute each way that took an hour by car,” he said. “I hated it. I was looking for a job and community that would enable me to live and work in the same community, where I could walk or bike to work.”
He found that in Winter Park where he bikes to Rollins most days of the week. “I love to ride”, said Jonathan. “In Orlando traffic it is quicker than driving and far more restful. I have a three-mile commute each way that takes me by the park, and the lakes and on quiet neighborhood streets. It’s just gorgeous. I also like to ride for fun. Recently a couple of my friends (old guys like me) rode to Titusville and back. It is a great way to see the beautiful Florida countryside.”
In addition to his work commute, Jonathan also performs many of his weekend errands via bicycle. He bikes to the Winter Park Farmers’ Market and to do grocery shopping. He also bikes to downtown Orlando for plays at the Mad Cow Theatre, and elsewhere. “Sometimes I hardly use my car for weeks,” he said
Benefits and Challenges of Biking
The benefits to biking? “Peace and quiet, low stress, and my car expenses are very low,” Jonathan said.
What are the challenges to riding in Winter Park? “It is pretty challenge free: no snow, any rain is warm and over very quickly, and of course it’s flat. The main challenge is car drivers who are not used to bike riders. Instead of treating me like any other vehicle on the road and following the rules of the road, they either don’t see me, or they treat me like I am a rolling unexploded bomb and everything comes to a halt.”
If you’re considering trying commuting…
Jonathan suggests trying your route out on a quiet weekend. He said, “Plan out an efficient route of bike paths, bike lanes, and quiet streets, and use sidewalks if necessary. Then take a week of riding each day to get used to it and give it a fair trial. Start out cold, because you will be warm by the time you get to work. In the summer I pack my work clothes (I wear a suit and tie at work) and ride in shorts and a t-shirt.”
As we’ve noted in previous stories, many employers are now adding showers when they build or remodel workplace facilities, recognizing that more people would ride if they could clean up at work.
When asked how the Florida Department of Transportation, city officials and planners are doing in making our community more bike-friendly, he said, “Keep up the good work of adding more bike paths, bike lanes, and safer streets. Find more ways to encourage more bike riders because car drivers will only learn to share the road once there is a critical mass of bike riders. Finally, plan to link bikes to all the other modes of transportation – Sunrail, Lynx, etc.”
Great advice from someone who knows – and who loves riding! Look for Jonathan and a large Rollins College contingent at our upcoming Bike to Work Day on March 9th.