Behind every successful movement, there are staunch supporters who give their all to making positive change a reality. Meet Team T.A., a group of cyclists from all backgrounds who are raising money to benefit Transportation Alternatives (T.A.), while preparing to ride the New York City Century on September 8th. This week, we’re spotlighting educator and performer Bradford Jordan, a Team T.A. member and Greenpoint resident who has raised over $3,000 for T.A. You can check out Bradford’s progress here or by visiting TeamTA.org.
Where do you live and what do you do for a living?
Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Equidistant between the Queensboro and Williamsburg Bridges, Greenpoint is a perfect staging location for a cyclist commuting into the city.
I am a freelance educator and performer. I teach improvisation at the People's Improv Theater, and am also a teacher, actor and director with the Story Pirates, where we teach creative writing workshops to kids in schools and community centers nationwide, then adapt and perform their stories as musical sketch comedy shows.
Why do you ride?
I ride for the rush of independence and exploration — I never would have been to Dead Horse Bay or Nyack or Harriman State Park or forgotten corners of Staten Island if I didn't have a bicycle. I ride for the predictability — I know exactly how long it takes me to get to Greenwich Village or Columbia University, and I am never waylaid by train delays or traffic. I ride for the community — cycling may be an independent act, but there is an incredible community of cyclists across New York (none better than team TA). I ride for travel and adventure — commuting by bike got me excited about longer rides and led me to discover the Adventure Cycling Association, a group dedicated to facilitating and demystifying bicycle touring in the USA. I have biked to Burlington and Washington D.C. from my little spot in Brooklyn, but my number one favorite place to go on a bike is still Central Park right around closing time. The park is empty, the streets are clear and it is a great time to ride the loop and let the stresses of the day pass through me.
What do you ride?
I have two bikes. My commuter is a 1983 Fuji Supreme. It's been updated with new wheels, new calipers, new front and rear derailleurs, and of course a new saddle, but the frame is sturdy old Japanese steel that has stood up to anything that the city has thrown at it. I replaced the head badge with a custom carving of a Scarab that a friend made for me and the whole bike fits me just right. My other steed is a 2011 Surly Long Haul Trucker that I only take out for long trips and multi-day tours. That bike is a beast and it rides best when loaded down with 30 + lbs. of gear.
What is your favorite bicycling memory?
My favorite cycling memory is riding into Troy, NY late one night on my solo ride up to Burlington, Vt. It was two days before my 30th birthday and I had nowhere to stay. Using the Warm Showers app for touring cyclists, I met a wonderful woman who immediately volunteered to take me in. She introduced me to a huge group of her cyclist friends who work at Troy Bike Rescue and were barbecuing in her back yard. The next day she took me on a tour of Troy and inspired me with her stories of urban renewal and bicycle-led community projects that TBR was spearheading in Troy and the greater Albany area. Before I left, she bought me a loaf of bread at the farmers' market, and packed it into my pannier with a note. These are the sorts of acts of kindness that cyclists all over the world are eager to do for one another.
You’ve helped raise over $3000 through your volunteer work with Team T.A. Why have you chosen to support Transportation Alternatives?
The hard work of Transportation Alternatives employees and volunteers laid the foundation for me to discover bicycling. As much as I fancy myself an adventurer, I don't think that I would have ever braved Manhattan streets without the bike lanes, maps, racks, and support that T.A. has made possible in New York City. Last year, I read Pedaling Revolution: How Cyclists are Changing American Cities by Jeff Mapes. In it, he talks about the incredible history of T.A. and that history inspired me to get involved. My favorite aspect of T.A.'s work is that they set their sights very, very high. It is only by aiming for the safest, most sustainable infrastructure that our shared goals can be realized.
What have you gotten out of being a Team T.A. member?
The best part of being a Team T.A. member is that it really is a team. The (T.A.) office is incredibly welcoming, and there is often cold beer in the fridge (after hours of course). Cycling can seem like such a solitary activity in the city. We spend a lot of time battling for space, safety, and respect. Team T.A. helps open up a sense of warmth and community that cyclists — being humans, after all — yearn for.
What’s behind your Team T.A. fundraising success?
Fundraising is all about sharing the message that supporting T.A. is supporting you. If you ride your bike, T.A. is literally out to help keep you safe. If you have ever been doored or had a near miss, you and the people who love you know how important T.A.'s mission is. Let them see that side of advocacy, let them see your story.
Follow Bradford’s progress, and learn more about the advocacy work he supports here. Inspired to become a Team T.A. member? Read all about it on TeamTA.org, and contact TeamTA@transalt.org if you have any questions.
Images provided by Bradford Jordan