Louisville, Kentucky has long been known for its famous Louisville Sluggers, the historic Kentucky Derby, dominant college basketball teams, and smooth bourbon. Lesser known is the fact that the city is emerging as a cycling hotbed. Louisville has hosted the U.S. Road Cycling Nationals, a stop on the USGP cyclocross series, and this year, the Cyclocross World Championships! Planet Bike’s first SUPERCOMMUTER of 2013, Mary Beth Brown, has thrived in Historic Old Louisville for ten years, the past three living in a car-free household.
Prior to December 2009, Mary Beth only occasionally commuted by bike. It wasn’t until her car died that fateful month that a daily bicycle commuter was born.
For the past 3 years, Mary Beth has been pedaling herself around the Derby City and has also invested her energies into making bicycling safer, more popular and more fun for the citizens of her community. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bicycling advocate with a more down-to-earth outlook than Mary Beth. She served on Bicycling for Louisville’s Board for a number of years. Now she plans rides that bridge the gap between hardcore commuters and people who are interested but too intimidated. Every year she leads a small ride to Churchill Downs during the lead up to the Kentucky Derby. Riders dress up in fancy attire and focus on just enjoying the ride. Mary Beth says, “Even though I’m no longer officially with any group in particular, I am dedicated to bicycling as a legitimate means of transportation, and will talk about it to anyone I meet.”
The key to success in bike commuting can be as simple as a positive experience, and a positive experience is much more likely when one is prepared. Mary Beth’s advice to new commuters is to talk to your local advocacy organization and find a community of like-minded individuals. “It was really helpful to have the wisdom and encouragement of members of Bicycling for Louisville and our local “Car Free Happy Hour” to reduce the learning curve,” said Mary Beth. “This group informed me about gear that allowed me to become more independent and confident on my bike.”
Mary Beth’s 2,000 plus miles spent pedaling to work each year are more than just transport from point A to B. “Commuting by bicycle has really put me in touch with my community,” she says, “I love seeing the same people on my way to work – kids waiting for the bus, older folks having a cup of coffee on the porch. I love it.” Bike commuting really does open your eyes to another point of view. As Mary Beth puts it, “You can’t roll your windows up on a bike.”