I bike to school every single day. Okay, I take that back. Roughly two
days a month I hop on the bus, and perhaps a handful of times this
year I've had to drive for one reason or another. Taking my bike has
spoiled me. I sail past traffic enjoying the weather, forgetting how
others are subject to the holdups of the various accidents, endless
lines of cars, President Obama visits, and other miscellaneous
disruptions. I am so spoiled that on those days when I am relegated to
the use of my gas tank and four wheels, the trauma of the entire
driving experience leaves me renewed in my commitment to, appreciation
of, and joy in bicycling each and every day, rain or shine.
As a medical student who bikes to school (and pretty much everywhere
else, too) there are certain days on which my bicycle riding habit
crosses paths with my professional learning experiences, leading me to
don my white coat, stick my stethoscope in my pocket, and hop on my
bike to my clinical skills course, the homeless clinic in Santa
Monica, or perhaps my preceptorship in Brentwood. Riding with my white
coat tails flying always means that a few long, curious stares are
directed my way, especially by the other healthcare professionals in
their own white coats or various colors of scrubs who happen to see me
as they walk through Westwood early in the morning. I always wonder
what they're thinking, and hope that it's "Wow, I should try that!"
It's more likely "That guys looks ridiculous. He should take off his
white coat." I don't mind, though. It's my preferred way to get
around, and if it happens that I must bring my white coat for one
reason or another, wearing it results in less aesthetic damage than
trying to stuff it in my backpack.
My favorite experience on one of these stethoscope-toting, white-coat-
tails-a'flying, bicycle riding beautiful Southern California days came
a couple months back when I came outside to unlock my bike after my
preceptorship in Brentwood. Two kind-looking older ladies who were
standing near where I had locked my bright red bike with its black
crate sticking off the back to a pole called out to me as I stooped
down to release the Kryptonite U-lock:
"Is that yours?"
"Yep, it's my bike!"
"Do you ride it everywhere?"
"Just about. I ride all over the place. It's how I get around."
"We think that's great. We were just talking about how we could
imagine you with a little black doctor's bag in your basket, bicycling
to make house-calls. An old-fashioned style doctor on a bike!"
I laughed. That was a pretty great image. I'd love if I could actually
work that into my daily routine at some point.
"That sounds great!" I replied.
"You're such a great example, using your bike to get around. It shows
others you really care about health."
"Well thank you; wouldn't it be great if more doctors did this? I have
to admit, I do feel a bit silly in my white coat sometimes, but it's
We talked and laugh some more before I pedaled away. It was such a
pleasant moment, a great reminder of both why I love to bike
everywhere I go and the wonderful human connection I've come to love
so much in caring for the health of others. For that brief moment,
those passions intersected. I may be a silly-looking medical student
on a bike, but I love it, and, at the very least, so do those two