Jasmine Greene is an amazing kindergarten teacher at Ocean Beach Elementary that all my kids were lucky enough to have as their teacher 15 years ago. After years of not seeing her as much, our lives have come back together as she has found the joys of riding a bike in San Diego. Here is her story of why she started riding and how she has become a new fan of the bike and all the benefits it offers.
When and why did you start biking in 2020?
For the past year on most weekends two of my good friends, Anna and Leanne, and I had taken on the 52 Hike Challenge. When the trails closed due to COVID, Anna suggested biking instead. I didn’t own a bike and had not been on one for 30 years, so I was a bit nervous about it. We met in University Heights and took our first ride to Seaport Village in April 2020. From that day on I was hooked. I discovered the joy of bike riding at age 54!
Where do you currently ride and where is your favorite place to ride in San Diego?
I ride from Kensington to Ocean Beach to get to work, twice a week. I sometimes do this with Leanne, but am also comfortable riding on my own now. The one hour ride to and from work is the perfect way to begin and end each day. It clears my head and exercises my body. After riding I feel like I’ve had some time for myself, and am more focused and relaxed. It is something I want to do more often.
My favorite rides are along the coast with friends. Any destination ride is fun to me. I am now ready to tackle any hill! Slow and steady wins the race.
Did you think it was possible to commute by bike from your house to your work?
Never in a million years would I have thought it was possible for me to ride a bike from Kensington to Ocean Beach. First of all, it just seemed too far and complicated with all the neighborhoods to go through. I had no knowledge of any of the biking routes and the hills seemed ominous.
What are some of your favorite things about riding a bike?
Taking off on the bike feels so freeing. I love the idea of using my own body to move through time and space. I’m out there alone in the world and yet right smack in the middle of it all. I see so much more than I do driving my car. I have run into many friends along the way. While on my bike I get the enjoyment of seeing lots of dogs, ducks, birds, and even flying fish! I notice what is happening in neighborhoods more intimately; I see store fronts, people exercising and life happening all around me. There is a great feeling of simply being alive and in the midst of it all. Biking has become a type of mediation for me.
What have you learned about your neighborhood, and our city, while riding a bike?
I had no idea there were so many bike routes. I still feel like a novice in this area. I am unsure of how to get from one place to another by bike in San Diego. This is an area I still struggle with.
Biking has made me very aware of the gravity of San Diego’s homeless population and how far-reaching the issue is. Cyclists are much more confronted with this up close than motorists.
What are some of your challenges of riding a bike in San Diego?
I have had one minor accident and it woke me up a lot. I’m much more cautious now. One of the biggest challenges are the potholes and road conditions. I ride up Presidio Park to get home from work and the side of the road is full of potholes. The road itself is very narrow, without a dedicated bike lane, so that is always a challenge.
Cars are another major concern. I am fully aware of the fact that in a crash they will win. I am very cognizant of cars while riding, but I can’t always be sure that drivers notice me.
Riding on Adams Avenue and University Avenue regularly, the hazards include people in parked cars opening their doors, cars pulling out abruptly or making illegal u-turns. The buses are sometimes unsettling too.
As your experiences evolve you as a new rider, how do you envision your riding to be different in 2021?
While I love my hand-me-down bike, I have decided to upgrade and am having a custom bike built with Velofix. This is a local company and one I know I can trust. Having a bike that fits me well is something I am looking forward to. I now consider bike riding a part of my weekly routine. Interestingly, I find myself craving it. I will look for more opportunities to ride socially in 2021.
Do you have any big requests for our new Mayor to make your riding more comfortable and to encourage others to give it a try?
Help drivers become more aware of bicyclists’ rights. Improve biking infrastructure by creating more designated bike paths so that commuting is safer and viable. Please fix the potholes and other road hazards such as open grates, especially in bike lanes. Increase police presence on more isolated bike paths, such as the Flood Control Channel and the San Diego River Trail.
What would you say to someone that is interested but concerned to ride a bike?
The most important thing is to be aware of your surroundings. Start by riding with a friend or a group. Learn how to use your gears! Join BIKE SD to track your miles and hear from other cyclists. Give biking a try. I have always been a very active person: running, swimming, hiking, and practicing yoga. Biking was never part of my activity list. It didn’t speak to me until I gave it a try. Then it shouted out loud and clear!