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.
In advance of the week-long challenge this May, GLT is bringing you a series of interviews with commuters who choose to get around sustainably all year long. GLT’s Danny Hajek spoke with one of those commuters, Matt Hickman, the Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Life at the Mennonite Church of Normal.
Matt Hickman: I guess I’m multi-modal. I started using the bus, ride a bike, I also do quite an extensive amount of walking. We moved here, it’s going on four years ago when I took the job at the church and I started using public transit immediately. This was a novel thing for me to live in a town that had a bus system.
DH: So you took the B-NPTS Lime I bus to get to GLT today, and you brought your 5-year-old daughter Makyla. Is traveling around town sustainably something that your family enjoys doing together?
MH: It’s part of our entertainment budget. Just because it is so delightful to get out and see so many places in the community. You can just about get anywhere on foot or on a bike or on the bus. I would say that you can get places using those forms of transportation that cars don’t allow. The things that you would normally miss, little spots here, community garden tucked in here, a little swing set park here. There are just treasures to be found all over the place. But it takes some intentionality of going slow and paying attention.
DH: What would you say to those who are unsure of taking the bus because of any misconceptions?
MH: We have some of the cleanest buses and the most polite riders of any public transit I have ever been on. People are so friendly.
DH: Do you ever strike up conversations with other riders?
MH: Oh yeah! I mean, I’m sort of wired that way as a pastor. I’m a people person so I like to strike up conversations. I’m interested in stories that people carry. You meet a lot of people with a lot of stories on the bus.
DH: Does the Mennonite Church of Normal get involved in commuting too?
MH: We have a number of commuter and distance bike riders. We have a number of people in the congregation that regularly combine bike and bus to go to work and to get around town. It’s just sort of a culture of alternative transportation that is just embedded within the congregation. It’s a lot of fun.
DH: So what’s your favorite part about taking the bus or riding your bike?
MH: I think my favorite part is that you kind of slow down and you’re able to see textures in the community you wouldn’t see when you’re in that personal automobile bubble flying at speeds upwards of 35 miles-per-hour and having fits of anger at other people in cars. You can concentrate on actually enjoying the place where you live.
Matt Hickman is the Associate Pastor of Youth and Family Life at the Mennonite Church of Normal. Join Matt and his family on the bus during your commute, ride your bike, or walk along the Constitution Trail and participate in the 2012 Good To Go Commuter Challenge May 12-18. Everyone who logs at least one sustainable commute during the challenge is eligible to win a $200 Visa gift card. Learn more and register for the challenge today.
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.