Claremont resident Christine Gatson-Michalak is living the life she loves. Relying on her bike and public transportation allows her the flexibility and freedom she wants and eliminates the expense of maintaining a car.
“My husband and I have been married for 10 years and we like living simply,” said 32-year-old Christine. “We don’t have a car, cable or a DVR. We rent an apartment and have no intention of ever buying property. There are no repairs or upkeep we have to deal with, and it keeps us open to new opportunities. We can move anywhere at any given moment if we choose. And because we don’t have huge expenses, we can work jobs that make us happy rather than having careers that support a lifestyle.”
For the past year and a half, Christine has worked as a doula, a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to mothers before, during and just after they give birth. She describes it as the best job she’s ever had. Her husband works as a musician. Surprisingly, the lack of personal transportation is no obstacle for either of them.
“My husband carpools with a neighbor who plays in the same band,” said Christine. “And I always take clients who live close enough that I can get to them easily. At first clients don’t have any idea that I bike and ride the bus wherever I need to go, but they figure it out pretty quickly. But no one really cares because I am always on time. I once biked 8 miles to get to a birth. If there is an emergency, I can always take a taxi or catch a ride with a neighbor. Having a car is unnecessary.”
Christine also works part-time, handling shipping and customer service for a former doula client and owner of Mountain Mama. The company specializes in outdoor apparel for women designed to adjust to their bodies before, during and after pregnancy. Christina is a huge fan of the clothing line and wears their designs herself. Traveling to the job is no problem. “One of the nice things about public transit is that you can be flexible in the way you travel. I like riding my bike to the Ontario warehouse but it’s a much more difficult ride on the way back to Claremont. I prefer Omnitrans for that.”
Both Christine and her husband love being outdoors as much as possible and enjoy going on adventures. Whether going to a park to play Frisbee or traveling to LA to explore a museum or theater, they are frequent users of both Omnitrans and the Metrolink.
“It was a little difficult convincing him to ride the bus at first,” laughed Christine. “He had the attitude of ‘I’m a grown man! I’m not going to ride the bus!’ Owning a car is such a status symbol in this culture. There’s this strange social misconception that only kids or poor people ride the bus, and that’s just not true. Now he’s perfectly comfortable with it and enjoys the perks. We rode out to the observatory recently and watched as other people had to walk up from a parking lot a mile away while we were dropped off right at the front door!”
Christine offers these tips to other Omnitrans cyclists: “Plan ahead and try to get to your stop an hour early. Since there are just two bike racks on each bus, it leaves you time to bike over to another stop if the racks are full. I always have my bus book or smart phone on me so I can check for alternative routes. If your bike has thin tires, bring a bungee to help secure it. The racks are designed to accommodate thicker tires, so bikes with thinner tires tend to wobble–especially if driver has to break suddenly. The Omnitrans drivers are pretty friendly and can also answer questions if you need help. ”
To learn more about Christine and her doula services visit her website at The Village Doula.
- Juno Kughler Carlson
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