So I was waiting on the TellieTubbyLand-like astroturf mound in front of the Midtown MARTA station for Audrey Parker. She’s on Team Trust the Journey in the Atlanta Bike Challenge for Biketober, and as team leader I try to cross paths with every team member each year.
I had first met Audrey in person when she took my free Pedal Power with Pattie class two years ago in Piedmont Park. An expert rider, she didn’t need it, but she brought her au pair, Dorothy, whom was gonna start riding with Audrey’s kids and Audrey wanted to be sure Dorothy felt comfortable. Below is the photo from that day. Audrey is on the left, Dorothy is in the middle, and a third student named Emily (who was a recently-returned Peace Corps Cameroon volunteer) is on the right. Audrey had previously been a member on my Biketober team, Trust the Journey, after we had somehow started following each other on Twitter.
Audrey showed up rolling a road bike (photo at the top of this post after she temporarily removed her mask while on MARTA property — see comment about rule-following below), and the two of us immediately fell into a robust conversation. In fact, I wasn’t sure we were going to get to actually ride because the conversation was so good.
But we did, 10 miles worth, and due to our route selection and the City of Atlanta’s extensive bike infrastructure (at least in this part of this city,) we were able to ride side by side most of the way even if this was blocked and that was unfinished and god only knows what’s going on at certain spots.
I didn’t know Audrey majored and earned both her Masters and PhD in Physics, and she did post-doc work in neuroscience. I didn’t know she works as a professor of neuroscience at the University of Minnesota and splits her time between here and there.
I didn’t know that famous bus photo of her on her wedding day was in her hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. I remembered it as being on MARTA, and in fact, thought she worked for MARTA because she is so consistent about combining bikes with bus trips when her family has outings. Her Twitter presence is also a great example of safe-access-for-all advocacy. The bus photo is her profile picture.
Audrey told me all about how she, her husband, and two elementary-school-aged children bike/bus camp, the challenges they face, and joys they experience. We talked a lot about the brain, of course, and principles of neuroscience that could be applied metaphorically to how cities operate as well.
She, like me, follows rules, is bothered when they are not followed, and advocates to change them when they don’t make rubber-hits-the-road sense. And when it was time to leave each other, we didn’t. We stopped for lunch and talked more.
I would not have had this lovely experience and gotten to know this brilliant, funny, and interesting woman better if it had not been for Biketober. If it had not been for the Atlanta Bike Challenge. If it had not been for three little words, and a team by that name.
Trust the journey.
Thanks, Audrey. That was fun. Let’s put our heads — and wheels — together again soon.
As Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, a League Cycling Instructor, a PeopleForBikes Ambassador, and the author of Traveling at the Speed of Bike (book and blog), I shine a light on people making it more welcoming to ride bikes and access public space close to home and around the world. Meet some below! If you’d like to put stories to work for your company, municipality, or organization, see here.
Meet Greg Masterson (Metro Atlanta Cycling Club)
Meet Marjon Manitius (Brookhaven Bike Alliance)
Meet Byron Rushing (Atlanta Regional Commission)
Meet Creighton Bryan (Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy)
Meet Betsy Eggers and Jack Honderd (Peachtree Creek Trail and Brookhaven Bike Aliance)
Jon’s Leap of Faith (Street Minister and Bike Saver Extraordinaire)
A Second(er) or Two about Why You’re Needed (City of Dunwoody)
Meet Matt (Painter of New Cycle Track by Mercedes Benz Stadium)
Meet Dr. Walter May (Reinhardt University)
Meet Alex Gee (World Bicycle Relief)
Meet Shawn Deangelo Walton (Everybody Eats ATL and WeCycle)
Meet Charlton Bivins (Clayton County Cycling Club)
Meet Emmett McNair (tour guide extraordinaire)
Meet Mike Flueckiger (Primary Mechanic at Global Spokes)
Thank You, Courtney (NYC’s Peoples’ Bike Mayor)
Meet Carden Wycoff (Wheelchair Warrior at 6 MPH)
Meet Jillian Banfield (Bicycle Mayor of Halifax, Canada)
Meet Arcy Canumay (Bicycle Mayor of Waterloo, Canada)
Meet Shelley Carr (Bicycle Mayor of London, Canada)
Meet Susan Stokhof (Bicycle Mayor of Victoria, Canada)
Meet Daniel Eppstein (Director of Operations at BYCS)
Meet Charise Stephens (Founder of the U Create Macon youth bike program)
Meet Andrea Learned (climate influence consultant)
Meet the Harding Family (empowered by ebikes)
Meet Bill Black (riding for fun and fitness)
Meet Rita Thrasher (adult trike/mountain bike coach extraordinaire)
Meet Audrey Parker (professor of neuroscience)
Meet 31 Women Making the USA More Welcoming for Riding Bikes (the “You Go Girl!’ Series)
Meet 13 Bike Tour Guides (from the Bicycle Tours of Atlanta Team)