Volunteer Profile: Nancy Silverman and Karen Lehman

Image courtesy of Harry Peronius

How did you get involved with T.A.?
NANCY: Three years ago, I got a bicycle and was looking for opportunities to ride with other people. I did some searching and found the T.A. Queens Volunteer Committee and started going to their meetings and tabling, and then going on rides, and then became part of the Executive Committee and am now a Monthly Ride Coordinator.
KAREN: I became a bike commuter in the summer of 2010, and I kept hearing about T.A. Every time I would say I ride my bike to work people would say, “Have you heard about Transportation Alternatives?” Eventually, I went to a committee meeting. I really liked it. I felt like I had met the community I had been looking for. Over the next year, I became more and more involved. I liked spending time with the people and liked that they were making things better in my neighborhood.

You both plan the monthly rides the Queens Committee takes. Can you tell us a little more about that?
NANCY: We became Monthly Ride Coordinators in January of 2012. We held a monthly ride brainstorming session and five or six people chimed in with ideas, and then Karen and I met and planned out the year and set the calendar.

What’s the craziest thing that has happened on a ride?
KAREN: My boyfriend got a flat tire! But we were prepared. And I guess that’s not that crazy.
NANCY: Well, this isn’t crazy either, but one of the interesting things is that it used to be the same few people would always show up, but it’s been delightful for me to see the new people, who aren’t as ensconced in the cycling world in New York. People who haven’t been involved with the committee before, or maybe don’t even know that much about T.A., but who have come. Someone at our last ride saw an event on BikeNYC.org, but wasn’t familiar with T.A., so we got to share that with them also. Also, a DNAinfo reporter came to our last ride, which was pretty cool.

In all your riding, nothing crazy has happened?
KAREN: I can’t think of any real mishaps.
NANCY: Because I’m an over-planner!

  What would you tell people who aren’t sure these rides are for them?
NANCY: We ride at a relaxed pace, and it’s primarily a social activity.
KAREN: It’s a great opportunity to try something new. The group is very supportive and the rides we plan vary from 10 to 30 miles. We all ride at different paces. I’m a slow rider so I sweep in the back!

Have you had a favorite ride so far?
NANCY: We did a Houses of Worship ride, which I was really happy with. We had a great turnout, people enjoyed themselves and the response after the ride was really positive. The Bike Friendly Business ride was also a success because we were able to sign up businesses in multiple neighborhoods that hadn’t been reached prior to that.
KAREN: I have two favorites! The best ride I’ve been on was the Houses of Worship tour. Nancy did a great job organizing it, and we got to see spectacular things. From start to finish it was long, but it didn’t feel like it and I met a lot of new people. I also really enjoyed the Greenmarket tour last year. I really enjoyed the content of the ride and got to learn about my community and how the Greenmarkets work. That’s why we’re doing it again, and this year we’re visiting three totally different markets from last year! Plus, anything with food gets five points!

Anything to add?
KAREN: We’ve had a busy summer and in September, we’re planning a back-to-school ride where we will tour colleges and universities in Queens, and then in October we’re doing a cemetery ride…November…we haven’t gotten that far! In December, when it’s cold, we’re thinking of doing a transit tour.
NANCY: One of the things the monthly ride has done for me is that it has given me confidence to ride further distances. It’s also made me comfortable getting around Queens by bike. I’ve gotten to know Queens through the monthly rides, both the ones I participated in and now the ones I’m planning. That’s been really great.