Good To Go Commuter Profile: Rachel Shively

Michael McCurdy

Registration will open soon for the 2012 Good To Go Commuter Challenge, May 12-18. The Challenge is a friendly competition between individuals, teams and workplaces. During the week-long challenge, participants track and report their sustainable commutes online; anything counts except driving alone. Learn more about the Challenge. Thanks to Danny Hajek and photographer Karen Hanrahan for making this series of interviews with sustainable commuters possible.

Rachel Shively getting ready to head out for a recent work commute.

Prior to this year’s Challenge, the Good To Go Blog is bringing you a series of interviews with commuters who choose to get around sustainably year round. With rising gas prices we hope that you join them for at least the week of the Challenge to save a few bucks and we hope you’ll find it’s not as hard as you might think.  In the third interview in this series, GLT’s Danny Hajek spoke with Rachel Shively, Assistant Professor of Spanish and Applied Linguistics at Illinois State University.

Danny Hajek:  When did you start riding your bike?

Rachel Shively:  Since I was an undergraduate back in 1995.  I just really love biking and I go about three-and-a-half miles commute each way to come to ISU.  About two miles of that is on the Constitution Trail so that’s just a really enjoyable way to come to work.  I honestly really enjoy that much more than driving.

DH:  You’re able to ride your bike all year-round, but are there certain weather conditions you’d rather not ride in?

RS:  The only time that I don’t ride is when it’s raining a lot.  And that’s primarily because it really can mess up your hair and you don’t want to change your work clothes and take a shower once you get to work.  It can get a little bit dicey in those regards.  But for winter biking, a couple pieces of equipment can be useful.  I think some people would feel, “Oh it takes too long,” or “I get to sweaty or dirty.”  I don’t find those things to be very problematic.

DH:  How do you pack everything up in the morning before work?  Do you wear a backpack while you ride?

RS:  I have two panniers which are little baskets that go on the back rack of my bike. I don’t actually like to carry my backpack or my briefcase on my person so I put it back there and that makes it a lot more comfortable to ride.

DH:  And it only takes a couple of minutes to get all of your winter gear on?

RS:  Yes, I get my gloves, ski mask, helmet, putting those things around your ankles for your pants to keep your pants in line but I mean really, it’s a couple of extra minutes in that regard.  And then I’m off.  I go down Grove Street for about a mile and I catch the Constitution Trail going north.  Twenty-minutes later, I’m on campus.  I grab my panniers, bring them upstairs to my office and I’m at work.

A hemet is just one part of Rachel's gear.DH:  You get exercise, you save money and you don’t have to worry about parking.  Is this an ideal mode of transportation?

RS:  I think so!  my car.  I do have a car that I use sometimes, but I only fill it up every six weeks.  I’m not spending the money on gas and I’m not polluting the air.  It’s an enjoyable, healthy, and earth friendly way to commute.

Rachel Shively is an Assistant Professor at Illinois State University. Join Rachel on the Constitution Trail or choose the sustainable commute that works best for you and participate in the 2012 Good To Go Commuter Challenge, May 12-18.  Learn more and register for the challenge at

The Good To Go Blog is administered by Mike McCurdy, WGLT Program Director and co-coordinator of the sustainable transportation project Good To Go. The Commuter Challenge is May 12-18.  Danny Hajek and photographer Karen Hanrahan helped make this series of  sustainable commuter interviews possible. Hear an audio version and see a schedule of upcoming interviews at the WGLT website.

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