Interview with Martin West
Big Wheels: See Who's Riding Now
Music Director and Principal Conductor, San Francisco Ballet
Tube Times: Why do you ride?
Martin West: From helping to keep me fit to doing my bit for the environment. There are so many reasons to bike. I don't own a car anymore. I travel a lot by plane for work, so I try not to add any more polution than I have to.
TT: What's your commute?
MW: I have an easy commute. I live in the Castro district and I cycle to the War Memorial Opera House and back, mostly along Market St.
TT: How long does your bike commute take you? How long would it take if you drove or took a bus?
MW: It takes 10 minutes to get into work and a few minutes more on the way back — especially if the wind is up! I think it'd be the same if I drove. I have to leave myself about 25 minutes if I go on Muni.
TT: How did you start bike commuting? What motivates you to ride?
MW: I started bike commuting when I lived in London. The Tube fare went up to £5.20 (nearly $10) a day and I discovered I could cycle along the Thames River in the same time (about 30 mins) as it took on the Tube. I bought a bike and it paid for itself in a couple of months! I continue to do it, because I find it a great way to unwind. I expend a lot of mental energy when I perform and cycling home gives me chance to get my heart rate up too.
TT: What's best part of your commute? Worst part?
MW: Cycling past the cars in the queue at the traffic lights is the best part. The worst part is the inconsiderate drivers, on their cell phones who are unaware that other people use the road. It just means I have to cycle slower and be very aware.
TT: If you could change one thing in the City about biking conditions, what would it be?
MW: Wider and more bike lanes. More places where there are no cars at all. Do you encourage others in your life to bike? I often go for recreational rides with friends. There are so many fantastic places in the Bay Area. What kind of reaction do you get when others find out you bike to work? They are all used to it now I think, but to begin with I got a lot of people telling me to "be careful". I also got a lot of funny remarks about my fluorescent yellow top! I'd finish conducting a show and as I left, people would ask me if I was going to a night job digging up the road, etc.
Interviewed by Michelle Stephens