Asilata Patwardhan - Bike Commuter Profile

September 27, 2018 • Transportation

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Name: Asilata Patwardhan (Asi)

Employer: Stanford University

Job Position: I am a Foreign Attorney and work as a Contracts Advisor

Where did you grow up? I grew up in New Delhi, India where my father taught me how to bike at a very young age.

Where do you commute from? Cupertino

How many years have you been commuting by bike commute and how often? Off and on for about seven years but more regularly since I joined Stanford University. I bike from Cupertino about twice a week.

Why do you bike? Biking to and from work helps me achieve two important goals: It’s an environmentally-friendly way to commute and it becomes my exercise for the day. Biking is my way of reducing my carbon footprint; it also keeps me healthy and active. I also enjoy my “me” time by listening to music and using the time to think and reflect on things. I compete against myself by tracking my bike commute time striving to beat it every day. When it works, it gives me sense of achievement.

You helped a coworker with her first bike commute. Tell me about that. I want to encourage others who are interested but hesitant to start or try something new. When my colleague, Judy, heard I commuted to work by bike, she showed great interest but was also very apprehensive. Her commute would have been much longer than mine and her concern was, “can I do it” ? To make things easier, I suggested she park her car at my house and then bike to work together. She loved the idea and the rest is history—she is now a regular bike commuter! It is important for me to motivate people to step out of their comfort zone, especially people who are on the fence.

What other kind of cycling do you do? We are a biking family, and my kids inspire me to bike more often. We typically run weekend errands by bike and enjoy leisure weekend rides to Shoreline in Mountain View followed by a sumptuous meal on Castro Street. I volunteer at organized bike ride fundraisers to encourage people as well as give back to the community. Most recently, I volunteered at with the Canary Foundation.

What do you wish drivers knew about bicyclists? I wish drivers knew that they should be sharing the road where bike lanes are not clearly demarcated. Another thing for drivers to know: Opening a car door to drop your kids off at school while waiting at a traffic lights presents a hazard for bicyclists who do not anticipate these actions and can easily be hit by the doors.

What would you say to new cyclists or those interested in giving it a try? Take baby steps to start, and perhaps team up with someone who is routinely commuting to work. This takes away the stress, since someone else is handling route planning and other details. If distance is daunting, consider pairing down the mileage by driving your bike halfway to work, parking, then riding the rest of the way in. As your confidence increases, you can always increase distance you bike slowly and steadily. Once you get into a routine, the task of carrying work clothes for the day and organizing your biking gear (which doesn’t need to be fancy!) become second nature. You won’t think twice about these things.

Are you willing to help new cyclists in any way? Getting started is the biggest roadblock. It’s all a mind game. As a part of the “Bike Champions” group at Stanford Research Park, I am always finding ways and means of encouraging newbies by letting them know that I can bike from home with them to provide support when they first use those wheels to commute. I can definitely help with getting them response for questions like:

  • What kind of bike should I buy?

  • What’s a good route?

  • Where can I learn to fix a flat?

Contact me at asilata@stanford.edu with any questions!

What’s something unrelated to biking that most people don’t know about you? I learned Indian Classical vocal music, and I am part of a group which performs music concerts in the Bay Area. I enjoy hiking on weekends and travelling places which gives me an insight into various cultures and cuisines.

How to Take your Bike on the Bus

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