By Ashley Patterson — Who says lawyers can’t ride their bikes to work? Not Rachel Otto, that’s for sure.
Rachel Otto is an attorney with Strindberg & Scholnick, a law firm specializing in employment law, primarily representing employees. Her office just recently moved closer to her home so while previously she had a ten mile round trip commute, she now has a two mile round trip route. The longer route had the advantage of providing a bit of a workout each day but the shorter route is well, pretty convenient. She’s especially appreciative of the shorter commute these days because she’s currently six months pregnant yet is still riding to work daily. “My commute is so short now that nothing – even pregnancy – is an excuse not to ride.”
Rachel rides nearly every day and plans her weeks so that on days where she has out of office meetings farther than five or six miles from the office, she packs them all into one day. “I have a mental block with being wasteful with most things, especially with driving. In a nutshell, I just like riding my bike more than I like driving.” Considering how fun it is to ride a bike and how stressful it is to drive a car, it’s hard to believe more people don’t share that belief.
As an attorney, Rachel has to look sharp at work and plans ahead on driving day to stock the office with the necessary clothing to go to meetings and to court. In winter, she’ll wear lots of layers to stay warm on the bike but during the warmer months, she often just wears a skirt while riding. She pointed out that right now she’s wearing lots of stretchy clothes as she’s six months pregnant but the day we chatted, she looked very professionally dressed. You would never have known she had ridden her bike that morning if I hadn’t watched her mount her trusty steed and ride off to work after the interview.
She just “upgraded” to a more comfortable, upright-style bike with a basket in the rear in order to carry precious cargo like groceries and libations which she loves to tote on the bike after work. She gave up a late 1970s model ten speed Schwinn. Otto’s motto is clearly is function before fashion when it comes to bikes!
Rachel is never fearful on her bike, although she has been hit by a car while riding many years ago. She says that people try to convince her that she should be scared but she feels she gets lots of respect from motorists when she’s riding. She points out that when she follows the rules of the road, motorists rarely treat her aggressively or disrespectfully. “It’s important to have more people in town riding bikes so that drivers get used to seeing us and sharing the road with us.”