Meet Another ‘Invisible Bicyclist’ – Alan Sweeny II – car-free and loving it

Alan Sweeny went car-free in the winter of 2011
Alan Sweeny went car-free in winter

Alan Sweeny II is 26 and lives in Germantown.  He enjoys creating musical sound collages and works for Wellspring in a transitional housing program for adults with severe mental illness. “I use my bike every day for exercise, transportation and fun.” he said.

From Germantown he rides to Old Louisville to work on Third Street. It’s just about four miles, round trip. When he goes to the grocery it’s just a mile or two.  Ever since he gave up his car a few months ago, Alan works on the premise that where he lives and where he works need to be very close to one another.  “After getting rid of my car, I realize that I can get along fine without one. For about three years I battled with the idea of getting rid of the one I owned. Everyone told me ‘you’re crazy if you do that. Don’t do it. What if you get hurt.  Anything can happen. You might need a car for emergencies.’”

Through the winter he rode his bike about 60 miles a week.

Alan couldn’t have picked a harder time to go car-free. He admits the past winter’s weather was a big challenge, but he has made a game of it. “It’s really not that bad.  In fact, it’s rewarding. Every time I get to work it’s a fun to look back at what I went through to get there,” he said. Overcoming the elements gives him a sense of victory.

“I look at it as a playground I’m trying to get through,” he said. “And it takes the same amount of time as it does to drive a car to work.”

What does he wear in foul weather? Alan has a good rain jacket he uses in storms. “There’s no special gear. It’s all pretty standard. And the bike is simple,” he said. Alan normally rides a single-speed, fixed-gear KHS Flight 100 with one front brake, cropped handlebars and BMX-style pedals. In rain or snow he uses a 1970s Huffy road bike with a little fatter tires.

Alan Sweeny II has a helmet waiting for him in my garage.
Alan Sweeny II has a helmet waiting for him in my garage.

“It’s truly empowering to know that the way I get where I’m going is by my own means – without filling a tank with gas, without the worries of a car or any of that. It’s a great feeling.  I ride in the street. I make sure that if there are cars in the parking lane, I stay out of the way of doors – and if there are stretches with no parked cars, I continue to stay in the same line. I don’t weave in and out, because that confuses motorists behind me,” he said.

I noticed that Alan wasn’t wearing a helmet. I gave him my standard sermon on the subject and I left him an open invitation to pick up a free helmet from me whenever he has time to stop by. It’s threatening enough on our streets. Cyclists like Alan are largely invisible to distracted and inattentive motorists. I want Alan to have a helmet as a last line of defense in case he has a crash. I want to look forward to seeing him often in my neighborhood . See you soon, Alan!

The helmet is yours for the taking.

Grace. Peace. Bicycle grease.

PS: Remember, every lane is a bike lane.
Share the road.


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Enjoy the ride home.
© Copyright, Kirk M. Kandle, MMXI
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