The newsletter of the Active Transportation Alliance

modeshift volume 4, issue 3

 

Commuter Profile: Rafael A. Valadez

Where do you live and work, Rafael?

I live near Ridgeland Ave. and Jackson Ave. in Oak Park, Ill. I work as a clinical social worker in Bloomingdale, Ill., located 7 miles north of Wheaton.

What’s your commute like?

I ride my bicycle to the Metra station in Oak Park and that train takes me to Wheaton, and then the 711 Pace bus takes me to Bloomingdale. I ride when the streets are clear in the winter; hidden ice under the snow can be frightening. On occasion, my wife will give me a ride to the Metra station if the weather seems unforgiving.

What made you choose to bike and use public transportation to get to work?

This is complex question because I think there are a multitude of reasons for this choice. Of course financial and health concerns are obvious. Environmental concerns play also play a role, but there are other reasons, too.

Using these modes of transportation has allowed me to save enough money to do extensive travel—even to travel with a bicycle to Europe.

Commuting by public transportation builds a sort of community. I have found golfing partners, talked to people from all over the world, made friends, and helped build a community of supportive people on the trains and buses that I use.

What advocacy work have you done with your community of riders?

I partnered with bus friends to advocate for continued service of the 711 line when service cuts were proposed.

We passed petitions for signatures and testified at public hearings about the importance of the service within communities of Chicago, Oak Park, Berwyn, Wheaton, Carol Stream, Glendale Heights and Addison.

Workers, students, seniors, and other bicycle commuters testified. People from many different communities that need that transit service for their employment or attending medical appointments. It was a great experience to watch the self-advocacy unfold.

You have a folding bike. Did you always have one or was the purchase necessitated by using Metra?

The folding bike was for the Metra and the CTA trains. Certain days in the summer due to festivals like the Blues Fest, Metra bans bicycles on the trains. But folding bikes with an appropriate cover are allowed.

What do you most love about your commute?

The people that I have met and continue to meet.

Have you seen/encountered anything out of the ordinary on your commute?

Patience. Encountering late trains or buses and needing to wait. Patient acceptance has been evident so many times on the train and on the bus.

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