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Why I Ride: A Conversation with Grace Hernandez

How Using a Folding Bike at Work Has Been Life Changing

· WHY I RIDE

By Lisa Montanaro, August 30, 2021 

When Grace Hernandez secures the perimeter of the Douglass MiddleSchool campus in Woodland as part of her long-time position as Campus SafetyCoordinator, she can be found doing it on two wheels. Her trusty folding bike is always with her, helping her to cover more ground in less time, while decreasing the impact on her body. To Grace, her folding bike is a utility item that serves as an extension of her body enabling her to better complete thetasks of her job. “The folding bike has helped me work longer in a safer way, with the least impact on my body and minimal interruption to my job,” Grace shared.    

Using a folding bike began out of necessity. After working in herrole for many years, Grace suffered from plantar fasciitis, which made walkingpainful. She was a softball player in the past, which caused a lot of wear and tear on her hips, legs, and knees. She enjoyed bike riding as a leisurely activity and got the idea that she could use a bike at work to cover ground quickly and efficiently. It’s worked out so well that she wishes she’d thought to use a folding bike even sooner in her career. “That bike changed everything!” Grace exclaimed, exuding passion for her dependable sidekick. “It’s like a BMX bike, but it’s for adults.”   

Grace has been in her current role for eighteen years. But herrelationship with Douglass goes way back. She was born and raised in Woodland,and she and her husband both attended school at Douglass as children. As an adult, she started working there as a substitute teacher and then transitioned into her current role of Campus Safety Coordinator in 2003.   

Douglass Middle School has a large campus comprised of multiplebuildings and sports fields covering many blocks. There are no fences aroundthe perimeter, but it is a closed campus. Grace’s job is to be visible, make sure that the public is not on campus, and ensure that students are safely getting to classes and other activities. This means being able to get from one section of campus to another promptly. Her bike never lets her down – she uses it constantly aspart of her daily routine.    

“With my folding bike, I’m able to do the job of two people. Andthe wear and tear it has saved on my body is phenomenal. When I walk thecampus, I walk the bike alongside. But many times, I am on the bike, riding it to get where I need to go quickly.”   

Grace shared that she gets a lot of interesting comments abouther bike. People seem intrigued by her use of a bike at work, and specificallya folding bike. She is such a fan of her folding bike that she tries to encourage others at work to get them and likes to show kids/students how to use them. Because of their portability, she thinks folding bikes are fabulous options for college students, people that travel often, commuters to work, an owners of campers or trailers. They range in price from used and affordable to brand-spanking new and more expensive. They fit all sizes of people, from very tall to very short. Some are compact enough to even fit in luggage. Hers fitsin the trunk of her car and she can lift it out with one hand as it is lightweight.    

Her use of a folding bike extends beyond work. She brings it onvacation when she travels. She took it to Yosemite National Park to enjoy thebeautiful wide-open landscapes. And when she visited her brother in New York, she used his folding bike to sightsee, allowing her to easily pass traffic congestion. When asked if a folding bike slows her down, she chuckled, “I can keep up with bike riders with regular sized bikes. But I’m not doing serious road cycling. I am using my bike for leisure activities and for work.”   

Grace’s advice for those interested in a folding bike: “Do yourresearch. There are so many models to choose from, even electric ones now.Don’t spend too much upfront.” She got a bike from The Bike Campaign and encourages others to do the same. “They match you with a bike that meets your needs at an affordable price.”    

Grace loves her job but plans to retire at some point soon aftera satisfying career at Douglass. One thing she won’t be retiring? Her loyalfolding bike. Using it may have started as a utility item to help her at work, but it has now become a way of life. An extension of her body indeed.     

This article was written by Lisa Montanaro, commissioned byThe Bike Campaign. For more information about how to “Bike More. Drive Less.”, contactMaria Contreras Tebbutt at funmaria@sbcglobal.net or www.TheBikeCampaign.com. 

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