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Student finds new mode of transportation

Contributor

Published: Monday, May 7, 2012

Updated: Monday, May 7, 2012 11:05

The last time Jolene Holland rode a bike was when she was a child. When she outgrew bike riding, her bike got buried away in the garage.

            Four years ago, Holland, 21, moved to Chicago for school and reunited with biking.

            “It was really flat and there were some bikers, so it just seemed like a fun thing to do,” Holland said. “I loved it so much. I just carried it over.”

            After two years in Chicago, Holland moved back to Omaha and biking has become more than just a hobby. It’s her main mode of transportation. Holland, a senior sociology majorat UNO, rides to class and to her job at Greenstreet Cycles.

            “I’m kind of impatient and the best thing about biking is you literally just jump on your bike and go exactly where you want to go,” Holland said.

            Holland found that biking in Chicago was different than biking in Omaha.

            “Geography plays a huge part of it,” Holland said.

            Omaha isn’t as dense as Chicago, which makes it more challenging to go from place to place. Holland found that made biking in Chicago a bit easier.

            Traffic proved to be a challenge in Chicago. Holland thinks Omaha is more bike-friendly than Chicago because of the lack of traffic.

            “There’s a lot more traffic and I almost died every day,” Holland said.

            Another challenge to biking in Chicago is theft.

            “Knock on wood every time I say this, but Omaha doesn’t have that bad of a bike theft problem yet,” Holland said.

            Holland once had a bike stolen in Chicago. Another time, Holland went out to her bike to find its back wheel missing.

            “I swear people would go around with baskets in Chicago and be like, ‘Oh, I’ll take that off of that bike and that off that bike,’” Holland said.

            Holland has found many benefits to biking. One is saving money, not just on gas but also on car insurance.

Biking offers many physical health benefits but Holland has found that it also offers her mental health benefits.

“It’s so awesome to get on the bike in the morning and start your day like that and then also end your day like that,” Holland said. “It’s just kind of a nice quiet time.”

Holland rides in nearly all kinds of weather, although it takes a lot to motivate Holland to ride in hot summer weather. Holland even rides in the rain. The one time she opts to find a ride is when it’s icy out.

“I just get worried about the other drivers, to tell you the truth,” she said.

Holland rides her bike in the street as opposed to the sidewalks. She rides in the street in part because sidewalks aren’t always in good condition but also because of safety issues.

“You’re actually more visible on the street than you are on the sidewalk. Most bike accidents that happen are usually on sidewalks,” Holland said. “But if you’re ever uncomfortable, ride on the sidewalk because you’re probably going to be safer since you’re not as confident.”

When Holland rides she always wears a helmet.

“It’s like a seatbelt,” she said. “You can choose not to wear it if you really don’t want to but since it’s there, you might as well.”

She has read articles that debate the safety of wearing bike helmets. She found some that say drivers will get closer to you and be more aggressive if you’re wearing a helmet because you look safer. But until biking gets safer, Holland will continue to wear a helmet.

“I will just in case,” Holland said. “There’s that possible pothole I might hit.”

Occasionally, Holland has to deal with angry drivers. As she can never avoid traffic, she’s had to deal with annoyed drivers who honk or yell.

“People are worse with guy riders,” Holland said. “I try to make myself as visibly a girl as possible just so I don’t get heckled as much.”

Parking is a problem for many students but it’s one that Holland rarely has to worry about. By making biking a bigger priority on campus would help the parking situation, Holland said.

“People forget that parking is a supply and demand kind of thing., Holland said. “If you put more parking lots, there’s going to be more people parking. It’s never going to end.”

Eliminating cars isn’t the answer, Holland said. Making all options on campus just as viable as driving would help.

While not everyone may pick up a bike, it’s an option.

Holland goes back to the mission of Greenstreet Cycles, which is to simply get people on bikes.

“I don’t really even know everything about bikes but I just like getting other people on bikes,” Holland said. “I got excited about biking and I think everybody could.”

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