Boston Bike Story: Chavella Lee

When did you start biking, and where do you typically go?

My mother began to teach me to ride without training wheels when I was 5, but her pregnancy with my younger sister was very demanding and she wasn’t able to finish my lessons. I learned how to bike when I was 10 years old. A friend of mine made it her purpose to teach me and spent a whole afternoon practicing with me in a parking lot. Since then, I have only ridden a bike on sidewalks or in enclosed spaces.

Why do you bike?

My dad was a major biker. He would ride his bike around the city just for fun, or he would ride from Roxbury to Belmont to meet someone. It wasn’t until the first time I biked as an adult that I understood the dedication, exhilaration, and freedom my dad felt on a bike.

I have also begun to bike more because I am invested in my health and in reducing my carbon footprint. I’ve been inspired by the Vigorous Youth I work with and other members of my community who are avid bikers.

What is one of your favorite bike memories?

Mattapan on Wheels! I was a part of the family ride, led by Vigorous Youth, and we rode from Mildred Ave Community Center to Mattapan Square all the way down Truman Parkway. I had only ridden my bike on Truman Parkway once and was extremely intimidated of it after realizing how hilly it is. Riding with Mattapan on Wheels was such a fun and fulfilling experience. Being able to talk with others while riding motivated me and distracted me from my burning thighs!

What would make biking better for you in Boston?

I wish Hyde Park Ave had bike lanes. I would absolutely ride more if I felt safe riding on the streets.

What do you wish that people who don’t bike knew about biking in Boston?

Bikers aren’t the issue! It’s the city’s infrastructure that causes so much discourse between automobile drivers and bikers.