Michael Andersen, Green Lane Project staff writer
Cheryl Zalenski says Chicago’s new protected bike lanes make biking better, and that biking to work makes her better at her job. Photo courtesy Zalenski.
As Cheryl Zalenski was working her way up the ranks of her career, she would go to a gym every evening after work. As she got older, the time was harder to fit in — but she still wanted to create “kind of a space between work and home.”
“I’m really into holistically taking care of yourself,” said Zalenski, a middle manager at the American Bar Association’s Chicago headquarters. “Having that time to recharge your brain gives you more creative energy and allows you to come up with ideas that you wouldn’t have while sitting and staring at the computer.”
The answer for her schedule, Zalenski found, was a tool she’d lost track of after leaving college: the bicycle.
“My brother gave me one of his hand-me-down bikes about 10 years ago, and got me back into riding again,” said Zalenski, 45.
She’s certain that bike commuting makes her better at her job, and that Chicago’s fully signalized and protected bike lane on Dearborn Street, one of her frequent routes, makes the street better for bikes and cars alike.
“The cars who are turning left seem to be more calm about knowing their turn is going to come, and waiting in their row during that period,” Zalenski said. “It seems to be a more calm and much more peaceful traffic situation.”
In retrospect, Zalenski said, the choice of biking as a way to build physical health into a busy schedule seems obvious.
“I was like, how come I didn’t do that sooner?” she said.
This post is part of a collaboration between the Green Lane Project and the Alliance for Biking and Walking to document the ways better bike lanes are building prosperity around the United States. For more excerpts and the full report later this month, you can follow us on Twitter or Facebook sign up for weekly emails of our latest news here.