November/December 1998, p.16

Volunteer Married Couple of the Month: Ken & Karen Southerland

Ages: 31 & 32, married ten years
Occupations: Software Engineer & Financial Analyst
Neighborhood: Chelsea
T.A. Members Since: 1997
How'd you get involved with T.A.? When you're looking for an organization to support your biking habits within a hostile environment such as New York City it's hard to look further than an organization with a name like Transportation Alternatives. But volunteer night was also a great motivator and a terrific way to get started. We immediately got sucked into the fold.
Activities: Volunteer night, magazine mailings, Century Rest Stop captains, Auto Free Central Park committee members (soliciting signatures, entering addresses into database), Auction DJ's - thanx Tommy Boy!
Describe a typical volunteer night. Ken: A battle of the comic minds with a heavy emphasis on licking [envelopes]. Karen: Beer. Cookies. Stamp. Stuff.
Does volunteering count as quality time in your marriage? No, we argue there also.
You guys grew up in Michigan. How'd you begin biking in NYC?
Karen: It seemed to be a good way to save 1/2 hr. each day commuting on foot. Ken: The smart-ass answer is that NYC is where I moved and I bike wherever I am. But let it be known that Michigan is not the Fertile Crescent of biking, especially considering you are constantly in the shadow of the Big 3 [automakers]. Also, while riding the subway you can't thumb your nose at the thousands of people stuck in Big 3 products with one hand on their horn. Very satisfying.
You both use folding bikes to commute. What's been your experience? K&K: Question number one is always, "How much does it cost?" Karen: In addition to the Mother Of All Questions I also get asked about its weight. Most people who take a second look at it seem to think it is a novelty. Ken: I tell them it makes me money since it pays for itself in the first year of commuting usage and then I cash in for years two through whatever. I've even had cabbies stop and inquire about the bike. I find myself doing on-street bike folding demonstrations and discussions. People love it and are amazed. The main advantage is to have your bike sit right next to you at work all day.
Note: Karen rides a Brompton and Ken a Swift Folder. Ken thanks Design Mobility for making a truly stellar machine and urges everyone in the world to purchase one.
Biking philosophy: Respect pedestrians, even the dumb ones. Disrespect cars, except for the extremely rare, slow and careful ones. Also, smile after you yell at the cabs for cutting you off.
It's been proven volunteers live 30% longer than the general populace. How long do you expect to live? If your hypothesis is correct, and our humble existences outside of our volunteering are merely that of the commoner or average person, they achieving the ripe old age of approximately 73 years, puts us at 94.9 years. Not bad at all, really. In addition, Ken would prefer to die in winter, the season of death.
How do you guys rate to last month's super volunteer, James?
Ken: James is a better volunteer than all of us. James is a better lover than all of us. James is a better farmer than all of us. James is better than all of us. Karen: We're not worthy! James: "Notice that it took two, count them, two, volunteers to replace me."