Interview with Cyclist Michael Scott
I’ve known this family as a cycling family for a long time. In fact, I did a double take the first time I saw Michael driving a car. “Michael, I didn’t know you knew how to drive. I didn’t even know you owned a car!”
FOB: How did you start riding?
MICHAEL: I learned to ride a bike at five years old in Murray (Nichols) Park. I biked for fun around the neighborhood. In Boy Scouts I had a Master Scout who was a touring cyclist and he took us riding often. One year we biked up and back to summer camp in Michigan. The trip was four days up and three days back. From then on I traveled everywhere by bike. After high school graduation, I spent five months biking Europe and in college, my bike was my only transportation. Now I bike to and from work each day, a fifteen-mile round trip.
FOB: So biking is more than an occasional thing with you. It’s a philosophy. I know your whole family cycles so it must be a way of life. Tell me about that.
MICHAEL: That’s true; we do bike quite a bit as a family. It’s convenient to bike especially around the neighborhood. We actually bike most places, averaging about 10-20 miles a week during the summer. Cars are bad for short trips and there are lots of healthy reasons to bike anyway. We bike for our own health and the health of others, to avoid car accidents, and to reduce our dependence on oil. We arrive in a much better mood when on a bike instead of driving and others have said the same. We don’t do much family biking during the winter but during the summer we bike to the Field Museum, downtown, the movie theater at River East, Promontory Point or 63rd St. beach.
FOB: With all the ground that you cover, what are your thoughts about cycling on the south side?
MICHAEL: I like biking on the south side; it isn’t as crowded and it’s much more relaxing. The north side trails are packed. I bike Cottage Grove and King Drive to work. Those streets aren’t so crowded. Most drivers are courteous and share the road. But I believe the cyclist has the moral high ground because they’re only risking their own life. Any foolish moves on the cyclist’s part results in more harm to himself than others, unlike the driver in the car.
FOB: What are your thoughts on the city’s plans for bike lanes on 55th Street and on King Drive?
MICHAEL: I was impressed with the plan as laid out. I thought they gave good scientific reasoning for the changes they propose.
FOB: Any last thoughts about cycling on the south side?
MICHAEL: I think more people should ride for the environment and for their health. I’ve been cycling on the lakefront trail for forty-three years. After commuting on the lakefront the last eleven years, I’m glad to see more people biking there. The regular presence of more cyclists has made the paths feel more secure.
Friends of Blackstone Library presents author Greg Borzo Wednesday, March 28, 2012 in “Cycling Chicago”, 6-7:00pm. Blackstone Library is located at 4904 S. Lake Park Ave. It is a branch of the Chicago Public Library.