Feature Volunteer - Kate Yoshida

We sat down with one of our GREAT volunteers, Kate Yoshida, to learn a little bit more about her. Check out her interview below!

How long have you been in Chicago?
Mostly all the time since 1977.

What neighborhood do you live in?  Work in? 
I live in Lincoln square and work at UIC which is Taylor Street, and University Village.

What is your commute like?
I mostly CTA commute with some divvy and Metra mixed in. And walking. I have not done my beloved bike commute lately due to some annoying knee issues which are improving.  It was Damen, 606, zig zag to Paulina and voila. I would typically ride past the intersection at Addison where a cyclist was recently killed. There is already a ghost bike on Damen sadly. It does give me pause each time I see it.

What other biking do you do?
I love rail trails, the north shore channel path, running errands, I did one slow roll which was amazingly fun. I like the active trans rides. Lakefront is great when it's not crowded. Biking in other cities and Europe.  We always try to find a way to bike wherever we visit.

What is your primary reason for biking (eg commuting, social, exercise?) 
All of the above. I think you almost can't help but make a sort of political and policy statement when you ride.  That's important too.

How many bikes do you own?
One.  It's a custom built Marin frame that Smart bike parts customized to reduce weight because of my knees. I adore it! I went to many stores and said I want to sit like I'm on a Dutch bike but want it to be lightweight. There were many glazed looks but Eric got inspired by what seemed at first like a paradox.

What do you like best being a bike commuter?
It feels like a mini vacation. Even if it's a jaunt on Divvy.

Where do you work?
UIC Office of Sustainability. I'm the de facto bike planner there along with other official tasks like grant writing. We have a small Chicago-area campus bike planner group. This year our Bike2 Campus event will be in April .

Any funny or interesting commuting story that you may want to share?
Now that I ride slow all the time ("Slow roll to everywhere" as I call it) I discovered fewer drivers honk/flip me off. I decided to more fully embrace my "dork persona" to reduce conflicts; Try it! Dress weird and ride slowly.

What do people (coworkers, friends) say when you tell them that you are a bike commuter?
In my office it's normal. To be encouraged. We have an office bike made by West Town. We love her. We recently had it in for a tune-up and they raised up the handlebars for us tall ladies.
But more generally people think it would be terrifying. Which is not untrue at times.

What motivated you to become a WBC volunteer?
The great people and mission!

Do you have a favorite memory from volunteering?
The bike zoos. So many styles to try. So fun! No pressure either.

What other activities do you enjoy?
I have a floor loom, I knit a little and dabble with beads.

How did you hear about WBC?
From [WBC Board Chair] Elizabeth Adamczyk. I sincerely admire all the love and time she devotes to really important bike causes.

In your opinion, what is the most important work that WBC does?
Supporting diversity-in all respects of the word-in bicycling.

What motivates you to stay involved?
It's fun and I get to meet people.

Does anyone in your life play a role in supporting your involvement? In providing inspiration?My husband Jim. He's a bike commuter/mechanic /sag driver.

What other organizations or causes do you support?
There's a small group of women who practice yoga some Sunday mornings at my home. We give our class donations to groups that feed our hungry neighbors. The Greater Chicago Food Depository https://www.chicagosfoodbank.org  and the Night Ministry   

Do you have a message to share?
I urge everyone to COMPLETELY geek out on safety gear. Wear everything. Wear two of everything. The implicit statement is ok now can you see me?

One thing that would surprise someone to learn about me is...
I used to play the double bass. Sold it recently. 

Any closing thoughts you would like to add?
Thanks to the people who do so much for this group. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Want to be one of Women Bike Chicago's volunteers and potentially get featured? Volunteer with us & e-mail info@womenbikechicago.org for information on our upcoming events!