PBOT’s Transportation Options division is recruiting for new outreach volunteers — Options Ambassadors — for 2012. A few weeks ago Andrew at PBOT asked me if I would be willing to share why I volunteer with Options as part of their recruitment. I think my response is slated for a brochure or email because I couldn’t find it online, but I thought it would be nice to have it available for the future, and for my own purposes in promoting Options’ recruitment!
Here are Andrew’s questions and my responses.
Q. Why did you decide to become an ambassador?
A. I was lucky enough to live in the SmartTrips area when I first moved to Portland in summer 2009. I thought the rides would be a great way to get to know the city and meet some people. I was also looking for ways to use my bicycle advocacy skills in Portland. I enjoyed the rides tremendously, and I really liked how prepared, thoughtful, friendly, and fun the Options team was. I decided if there was any way I could get involved, I wanted to do it. I’ve always really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and encouraging others to ride, so it seemed like a perfect fit. At the last summer ride, I was excited when Timo announced that they would be recruiting for new Ambassadors in April and encouraged me to apply. And the rest is history!
Q. What is your favorite part about being an Ambassador?
A. I really like to help with the bike rides. I am best at encouraging people when I’m riding because my enthusiasm for the ride is contagious — I enjoy exploring new routes and appreciating the wonderful things about Portland (including the summer weather). I also really like helping people learn and get more comfortable with riding in a context where I can talk with them one-on-one for extended periods of time. Finally, I love hearing people’s stories about why they are interested in riding more, and what got them out to the event, and I like to see how they appreciate each other’s company and support. Seeing people enjoy riding and grow in their skills and abilities is what inspires me as an advocate.
I didn’t want to go on too long in my response about how wonderful the Options group is, but it really is a huge part of the reason that I volunteer. Timo and Janis are fantastically cool, funny, enthusiastic, fun, and prepared. On the Autumn Adventure ride in 2009, I was badly under-gloved for the severity of the rain (and probably underdressed in general — it was my first fall in Portland), and Janis lent me some extra gloves with no questions asked. That’s the kind of leader I always appreciate and aspire to be. Every time I assist them I enjoy their company and I learn a lot about how to make riding fun and accessible for everyone. Every year as people rotate out, we need awesome ambassadors to replace them, so if you love to share your knowledge and enthusiasm for riding or walking, please volunteer!
Besides a few hours for training, it’s as much of a time commitment as you want or don’t want it to be. In 2010 I volunteered most weeks, but in 2011 I could only make a few rides in the summer because of my work schedule at SMART Transit. Luckily Timo extended the season with some weekend rides in the fall, and I’m hoping to volunteer more again this summer. I can’t wait for the season to start.