In his own words: Juan on earning a Create a Commuter bike

By Britt Appleton, Social Media Specialist

On December 12, 2010, Juan earned a bicycle through a Create a Commuter workshop at Central City Concern. Two and a half years later, he is still riding. I met up with Juan and his former employment specialist, Christina, last week to talk about his experience and what it means to be a bike commuter. In his own words, Juan described how the bicycle transformed his life:

Juan at the Central City Concern Create a Commuter workshop in December, 2010

“I was interested [in a bike] but I didn’t have the money to get one. Friends offered, but they were stolen. I wasn’t interested in stolen bikes. Every week, I would have to apply to I don’t know how many jobs. I had an interview with [Christina] and her boss, and I said I was walking all over the place. She said, ’Would you be interested in a bike?’ That’s how it came about. I said yes.

I enjoy my bike. My bike has given me a different way of thinking, a different way of looking at things. She takes me to work. She takes me back to where I live. I just use it for that purpose, mostly. Other than that, I’m walking. But, when I’m feeling bad, because I have problems with alcohol, or when I’m feeling depressed, what I do is I take my bike and I come to the Willamette and I ride my bike all the way to Sellwood. It’s just me and her. And then my mind gets distracted. Then I’m like, ’Oh yeah! Thank you, Josephine. Thank you, Lord, for giving me this bike, and for Christina for making it possible.’ I become very grateful. And she helps me. She has helped me a lot. People think it’s an inanimate object, but it’s got life.

Juan with his new bike, December, 2010

Sometimes, when I’m getting off of work, there is only my bike. There are no other bikes. The parking lot is just for me. The other workers, I don’t know what their problems are. Sometimes they say, ’Hey, why don’t you get a car?’ And I say, ’Hey, why don’t you get a bike?’ She has given me the audacity to face people who think that because they have a vehicle and I have a bike, they are more than me. I don’t feel like that. Having Josephine with me, I feel like somebody who is there everyday, who respects mother earth, because we are destroying her. She has helped me a lot in a lot of different ways: she takes me to work, she distracts my mind when I am feeling bad, and she picks me up. I feel like Napoleon. That’s why I call her Josephine, because I feel like Napoleon conquering the world. For the last 3 years, I have been conquering myself. She has made me a better person

When I first got the bike, I was so happy. I put it in the past tense. Today, I am more than happy to have her. Sometimes I have run out of my medication for depression, I go oh, there’s my cure. She’s right there. And then we take off. It’s like being one spirit, me and my bike. Everything’s fine. The day becomes beautiful, glorious, and I charge away on my beautiful Josephine.”

To learn more about our Create a Commuter program, click here.
To help others earn a bike through Create a Commuter, make a donation here.
Photos by Sam Lee

Connect with Us

Hours: 10am-6pm daily (fall/winter)Bike Shop Address: 1700 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211

Phone: 503.287.8786Office/Mailing Address: 1805 NE 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97212