By Jennifer Ann Gordon
“I’m very impressed with what The Bike Campaign is doing,” said UC Davis research professor Koen Van Rompay. “I usually have students or postdocs living with me who need bikes. And it’s better to buy used bikes; often with Craigslist, though, you end up with a bike that’s junk and unsafe. It’s better to get a used, general-purpose bike that has been safety-checked from The Bike Campaign’s Bike Garage. For example, when my housemate’s child needed a bike, the Bike Garage helped the child find just the right bike.”
Growing up in bicycle-friendly Belgium, Van Rompay finds it natural to ride his bike most of the time. “I hope young and old people ride,” he said. “We’re spoiled here in Davis. And, parking structures cost money.”
On most days, he commutes to work on his bike. Overseeing UCD’s HIV, Zika, and Chikungunya research, as well as serving as secretary and treasurer of the nonprofit he co-founded, Sahaya International, Van Rompay is a busy guy. He treasures the time he has on his bike every day. “Biking is healthy,” he said, “and it gives me 20 minutes outside twice each day seeing nature. In a car, you miss out; you don’t see the blossoms or hear the birdsong. And downtown parking is difficult, so biking gives a big advantage.”
Van Rompay is a member of UCD’s GoBike Club, which entices people to ride by offering 24 free day parking permits to bike commuters for those rainy or need-to-wear-a-suit days.
During his visits to Sahaya’s partner organizations in India, he rides a bike. The local people are surprised—their perception of Americans is that everyone is rich and drives big cars. “Sahaya has given many bicycles to children in India and Vietnam. A bike is a dream come true,” said Van Rompay.
He said, “If you can be happy with very simple things in life, you’ll feel rich inside. That’s the way I live my life. With a bicycle, you can live a simple lifestyle. You can share the money you save with other people. Social media presents pictures of what everyone else has; it’s distorted.”
“When I was riding to work last Friday, I saw an amazing rainbow,” said Van Rompay. “I stopped and took some photos. Riding my bike keeps me in touch with nature. ”
“The Bike Campaign’s Bike Garage is really good for foreign students who need help finding a bike and getting started. It saves a lot of time, too, because you get great help from the staff and don’t have to go all over the place to find a decent bike. And they have a nice variety, too.”