NAME: Corinna West
LOCATION: Kansas City, MO
OCCUPATION: Mental health peer support specialist
Where do you live and what’s it like riding in your city?
I live in Kansas City and the roads are not as friendly as in Colorado Springs where I went to college. For eight years I was afraid to ride in the streets. Then I got a job on the same side of the river as I worked and I started riding. Now I ride everywhere, including across the river, every day. People tell me they are afraid to ride, and I tell them it’s just a matter of finding the right routes. My motorist friends are amazed that there are other routes than the freeways. Kansas City is very hilly and spread out, and it’s the third largest city in the US by land mass. Since the density is so low, I can ride for two or three hours through relatively quiet streets and still be in the urban area.
What was your favorite city to ride in, and why?
Kansas City is my favorite because I have made so many friends here. Although motorists yell at me more here, there is nothing better than catching up to them at a red light and trying to make them see me as a human being instead of just an obstacle to get around. Peace begets peace, and telling them, “You scared me,” goes a lot further than a “fuck you.” Kansas City has a great wealth of historic buildings that weren’t torn down and are now being redeveloped. We have a growing cycling scene with Bike to Work Week, alleycats, Critical Mass, lycra pay rides, national races and epic discussions with the Department of Transportation about bridge access.
Why do you love riding in the city?
I love going out my front door and going wherever I need to go with my bike. I enjoy being able to stop along the way to look at things or talk to people and have adventures along with my transportation. I like arriving at work tired and relaxed and warm and in a good mood. Cycling is more effective than a lot of medicines people take, and I meet great people, see more of the world and eat a lot of food along the way.
Or just say whatever you want about riding in the city…
By riding my bike to work I plan to change the world.
I declare freedom from the petroleum mongering machine.
There’s no war in Iraq fought for my gas.
I live on a human scale, and I transport my own ass.
Photo by Sarah Gibson, www.acmebicyclecompany.com