In conversation with Cecily Walker


 

IS THE BICYCLE YOUR MAIN MODE OF TRANSPORTATION AND CAN YOU TELL US WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO LIVE A LIFESTYLE BY BIKE: I like to say my bike is my car, but I like my bike far more than I ever liked my car. I wish I could say I was inspired to make this change because of some great concern for the environment, but the main reason I made this change was because I got a job working Downtown after years of working in the suburbs, and riding my bike suddenly made more sense to me than driving or taking transit.  The great thing is I discovered just how much fun it was to ride a bike to work every day! It was such a pleasant surprise that it was just the push I needed to keep me riding.

In Conversation with Cecily and Le Velo Victoria

Image courtesy: David Phu Vancouver Cycle Chic Blog

TELL US ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH VANCOUVER CYCLE CHIC: When I was approached to appear in a Vancouver Cycle Chic film, I jumped at the chance. I’m normally a very introverted and shy person, but I felt a sense of duty or obligation to represent the average person who rides a bike. I’m not a young, thin male who bombs through the city - I’m a middle aged woman who lives with a chronic illness, and I still ride my bike.

Cecily // "Heart and Soul" // Vancouver Cycle Chic Films

from VANCOUVER CYCLE CHIC on Vimeo.

I wanted to stand as a symbol for the people we don’t typically see represented in lifestyle bike marketing in Vancouver; we don’t typically see visible minorities, and we absolutely don’t see someone who has a disability (even though mine is invisible, except on the days when I have to use a cane).  I wanted people to see me and think “If she can ride a bike, what’s my excuse?”

In Conversation with Cecily and Le Velo Victoria

Image courtesy of Cecily

SOME OF OUR READERS DRIVE CARS; CAN YOU GIVE ANY TIPS TO HELP OUR READERS TAKE THE LEAP TO DRIVING LESS AND CYCLING MORE: Honestly, I don’t have any tips for drivers. That’s not to suggest I don’t think about drivers, or have anything against them, I just don’t think that people who choose to drive are doing anything inherently wrong.

If I was still working for companies in Burnaby or Richmond, I probably would still be driving. I made the choice to take a job downtown, and I made a choice a few years ago to move a little closer to work. However I’m single and I don’t have any kids, so it was a relatively easy choice for me to make.  The only thing I would ask people to do is to shift their thinking away from thinking about us as “cyclists” and start to think of us as "people on bikes". When you put people first, when you see someone in regular clothes who is moving at a slower pace and is just trying to make her way to the market or to work just like you are, it’s a humanizing experience for everyone.  If you see me as a person, it may make you more inclined to think of any calls to improve bike infrastructure as a sharing of resources, rather than thinking of it as someone taking something away from you, or those “evil cyclists” encroaching on your territory. We all have a limited time on this planet. We are all just trying to do the best we can in the time we have left. 

Image courtesy of Vancouver Cycle Chic

Image courtesy: David Phu Vancouver Cycle Chic Blog

FAVOURITE PLACE TO RIDE YOUR BICYCLE: I’m fortunate in that I live right on the seawall, so riding there is a no-brainer, especially on beautiful sunny days (regardless of temperature). I get to see just how much the city has changed in the 13 years I’ve lived here, and I get to see such an amazing cross-section of the population. Even if I’m riding through minding my own business, it’s really easy to make eye contact with someone and share a smile, pay a compliment, or simply say hello to them.

I also really like riding on the Hornby bike lane through downtown Vancouver. I’ve had some really interesting interactions with pedestrians from that bike lane than I’ve ever had as a pedestrian or from behind the wheel of a car. 

DESCRIBE YOUR STREET STYLE: I’d have to say comfortable and classic with an urban preppy edge. :)  I wear leggings a lot because they’re super comfortable and they dry quickly on rainy days, and they don’t ride up or bunch uncomfortably on the saddle the way jeans can. I wear them with tunics and under dresses because they provide more coverage than tights do. Even if a gust of wind makes my dress fly up at the back while I’m riding, my assets are still covered. :) 

I like boyfriend jeans cuffed just show to show a flash of ankle, pointy oxford shoes with brogue detailing, or clunky European footwear like Dansko clogs. I dress in layers because they’re practical, and they’re easy enough to add or remove depending on the weather.

I had to finally give up riding in high heels because of rheumatoid arthritis, so I’m still in search of the perfect comfortable yet stylish flat shoe. In the meantime, I’ve practically lived in Blundstone boots all winter long.

 Image courtesy of Vancouver Cycle Chic for Le Vélo Victoria

Image courtesy: David Phu Vancouver Cycle Chic Blog

WHAT'S YOUR SECRET FOR CYCLING IN RAINY WEATHER AND KEEPING YOUR PERSONAL STREET STYLE: Layers, layers, layers! Because I’m fat, I can't find wool clothing in my size (wool is perfect for Vancouver’s lightly rainy days). Most other kinds of outerwear is lined, and that lining can get sticky if you tend to get a little sweaty on a ride, so layers keep me cool and comfortable. If it’s 5-15 degrees, you’ll see me in my ever-present denim jacket on top; the number of layers underneath will change depending on the temperature. I almost always have a scarf of some kind around my neck, and on really cold days I wear a knit cap that a friend crocheted for me.  If it’s colder than that, I wear a soft-shell jacket that matches the red accents on my bike.

In Conversation with Cecily Walker_Velo Joy Blog_ Le_Velo_Victoria

On rainy days, I wear the same layers, but I’ll usually wear a skirt, leggings, and knee-high boots to keep my lower legs dry. I’ll wear my cheap but trusty Lands’ End (unlined!) raincoat to keep my torso dry.

DO YOU HAVE ANY CYCLING TIPS FOR WOMEN WHO WANT TO START CYCLING, BUT HAVEN'T MADE IT ON TO TWO WHEELS YET: Find a bike buddy who is patient, knowledgeable, and will happily answer any questions you might have about buying, riding, and maintaining a bike. Go on a few rides with that bike buddy, making sure that you agree up front on duration and distance. If you enjoyed the ride and if you learned anything from your bike buddy, buy them a cup of coffee or a beer to thank them. :)

In Conversation with Cecily Walker_Le_Velo_Victoria

TELL US ABOUT YOUR BIKE, DOES SHE HAVE A STORY: She doesn’t really have a story yet as I’ve only owned her for 8 months, but I had my eye on this frame for years, so when the opportunity to finally buy one came my way, it was like a dream come true. I couldn’t pry the smile off my face when I went to pick up the frame in Point Roberts, WA. When the bike build was being completed, I posted pictures of the bike on Facebook much like proud parents post photos of newborn babies. When I picked up the finished bike from the bike shop, I actually squealed, bounced up and down, and clapped my hands with glee.

The bike is a Rivendell Betty Foy by Rivendell Bike Works of Walnut Creek, California. Though it seems natural to call her “Betty” because it’s part of the model name, I named her Rizzo, after the character in Grease. Rizzo — the character and my bike — is tough and steely, but lovely to look at but not too refined. It’s the perfect name for her.

In Conversation with Cecily Walker_Le_Velo_Victoria

WHAT'S THE ONE BICYCLE ACCESSORY YOU CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT: A good bicycle pump is a must!

As for the bicycle accessory I can't do without, I guess I'd have to say a good bike pannier is a must for me, because it allows me to carry things on my bike rather than having to wrestle with a backpack or messenger bag. I'm currently using the Moraga Cycling Pannier from TIMBUK2. I like it because the fabric is water proof, it has external pockets for a water bottle and a small u-lock, and because the shoulder strap allows me to carry it as a cross-body bag or as a shoulder bag. I usually carry it as a shoulder bag; the size and shape are reminiscent of the classic Coach Hobo bag.  I also like it that the rack clips can be concealed within a zippered pocket, so when you're not on your bike, it just looks like an ordinary bag. 

Well, it was a blast chatting it up with Cecily. We really liked her take on shifting our collective thinking“…from us as “cyclists” and start to think of us as "people on bikes". When you put people first, when you see someone in regular clothes who is moving at a slower pace and is just trying to make her way to the market or to work just like you are, it’s a humanizing experience for everyone”.  Cecily, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves! 

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