Fall 2002, p.22

Commuter Profile: Zester and Nayah Harper

Name: Zester Harper, 50 and Nayah Nicholson, 11 (mother and daughter)
Occupation: Zester is a former long-time restaurant owner and now current college student. Nayah is a 7th grader.
Commute: Nayah commutes by scooter to school and we both run all of our errands by bicycle from our home in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
Route: Nayah scoots one block to the Classon G train stop, takes it four stops and scoots three more blocks to her school in Park Slope. It's about 30 minutes, 10 minutes of which are on the scooter. To get to Park Slope from Lafayette Street to run errands, we bike West on Greene to Franklin where we head south to Eastern Parkway and West to the Park. It takes about 10 minutes.
Bikes: I have a 15-year old, 18-speed and Nayah has a new, 12-speed.
How long commuting? We've both bicycled our whole lives.
Why started? It's always been a part of my life. When I was growing up in Georgia, my father would bicycle home from work and, if we met him en route, he would put two or even three of us on the bike with him. It was just natural for me. So, when I moved to New York in 1972, the first thing I bought was a bicycle. Even when I had a car, I would bring my bicycle with me when I had to go to meetings in Manhattan. I'd drive in and park somewhere out of the way uptown and then ride downtown to my meeting and back. I just enjoyed getting the air and relieving tension. I always felt good when I got to my meeting.

As for Nayah, I put her in a bike seat at about a year--as soon as she could sit. At three, she was riding a three wheeler all by herself. When she was four, I took her to dance class one morning and she asked me why she had an extra wheel on her bike; Nayah insisted that she didn't need it. I was really scared to let her ride on a two-wheeler alone at that age, but I agreed. I held on to the bike as she started to ride off, but Nayah started screaming and yelling and pushing my hand away so all I could do was stop, put my hand over my mouth and hope that she didn't hurt herself. She's never had a problem since then! Nayah's gotten to the point where she's even really good at tightening her screws and fixing and patching her own flats. Neither of us has ever gotten into an accident.

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