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My NYC Biking Story: Marcus Woollen

Marcus Woollen is a prime example of what bicycling can do for your mind, body and spirit. Fifteen months ago, after being declared obese by his doctors, he decided he needed to get healthy and find a way to fit exercise into his busy schedule.

So he tried bike commuting from Jackson Heights, Queens to Hell's Kitchen and loved it. As of May, he's lost an incredible 50 pounds (already five more than when he filmed with us!) and has  inspired many friends to start biking too.

Here are some words of advice Marcus has for all of us:

  • "New York City is almost ideal for biking - it's pretty flat, and traffic isn't very fast - more like organized chaos."
  • "By commuting, I have so much more energy during the day, and I sleep much better than before."
  • "Most of the year, I commute in my work clothes. In the summer, I'll wear something cooler, and keep a few sets of clothes in a closet at my office - and have them dry cleaned over the weekend so I can pick them up on Monday morning as I get to work."
  • "Riding in the winter is easy - as long as the streets are plowed, I'll go. My biggest mistake at first was wearing too much and overheating - biking keeps you much warmer than waiting on a cold subway platform!"
  • "Queens is a great place to ride a bike - with the exception of a few major through streets, there are a lot of quiet neighborhood streets to ride on. The neighborhoods out here are wonderful and incredibly diverse."

Streetfilms would like to thank the Law Offices of Adam D. White for sponsoring this chapter in our My NYC Biking Story.


[music] 

Marcus Woollen:  [00.12] About a year and a half ago my doctor said I was not only fat, I was obese, and that was sort of a wake up call.  I was trying to figure out what could I do to make it so that I could get some exercise into my daily life.  I borrowed a bike from a friend one day and it seemed pretty good here in Queens, so a few days later I went into the city and I bought a bike, rode it home and I’ve been riding back and forth to work ever since.  The ride takes me about 40 minutes.  My subway commute was also about 40 minutes, so I’m getting an hour and 20 minutes of exercise every day.

 

[music] 

Marcus Woollen:  [00:44] When the Daily News did an article on me I thought it was kind of funny and I had actually gone on vacation so I came home and the internet had blown up.  The article said, you know, I’d lost 30 pounds and as of yesterday I’ve now lost 45 pounds.

 

[music] 

Marcus Woollen:  [00:57] I know of seven people who have since taken up bike riding again since I started riding. I’m not sure if I’m an inspiration or they just saw me doing it, it was sort of a catalyst for them to do what they’d already been planning to do. 

 

Speaker:  [01:08] Marcus was a real inspiration to me.  Last month I went out and bought my bicycle and I’ve been commuting to work almost every day since. 

 

Speaker:  [01:14] It’s been really inspiring to get in shape myself.  If he can do it, I can do too, so I bought a bike and here I am. 

 

Speaker:  [01:19] I saw how much weight he had lost doing it and it just sounded like a really fun idea. 

 

Marcus Woollen:  [01:22] One of the bumpy spots in my old commute was riding across Queens Plaza.  Riding a bike was always a bit nerve-wracking, navigating your way through that, so I’m thrilled this city is finally building a protected bike and pedestrian path, a way for people to get on and off that bridge.

 

[music] 

Marcus Woollen:  [01:38] I love riding around the city.  I love watching the people, the buildings, going through the different neighbourhoods, watching the seasons change, the people change.  It’s a really magical experience.   

[music]

Transcription Sponsored by: Transcript Divas Transcription Services

Clarence Eckerson Jr. has been making fantastical transportation media in NYC since the late 1990s. He's never had a driver's license and never will.

18 Comments
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  • Anonymous

    Really loving these videos! I know this is Bike Month, but it would be great if you could keep these coming throughout the year. It is exciting to see how biking impacts people here in NY!

  • Eric McClure

     Fantastic story!  Big props to Marcus, and to the people he's inspired, who will in turn inspire others.

  • http://www.thebikewriter.com/ Mandi

    Good for you Marcus! So nice to see another Queens-Manhattan commuter going strong. More power to you. I'll make sure to wave if I ever pass you on the Qboro!

  • http://roseonpolitics.blogspot.com Roseonpolitics

     Congratulations Marcus!

  • Dirk Gently

     so a few years back I saw this guy commuting to work on the Hudson River Path. It was a hot day so he was wearing his dress shoes, socks, a helmet and boxer shorts. The rest of his clothing was folded in his front basket. 

  • Jenrik

    Marcus has such a nice voice -- what an awesome spokesman for cycling! I feel really inspired now, even though I already cycle to work.

  • http://situp-cycle.com Michael Rubbo

    I agree, it's inspiring I liked the way  the film, having tagged his conversion, brought in how his change has reached others. People crave having an  impact. Marcus inspiring others will help keep him going. http://situp-cycle.com

  • Clarence Eckerson Jr.

    Aprijan,
    We are committing to ten of these profiles in May & June, but if we can find funding/sponsors for them, we want to just keep doing them.  Perhaps once a month.  Thanks for enjoying!

  • http://www.walkeaglerock.wordpress.com Severin

    This is the first profile that really inspired me, and like @5d224753b1f208de5f6462fd9e9a2f64:disqus , I already cycle for transportation all the time. Great video to show people wondering who benefits from bicycle infrastructure. Thanks and keep up the good work!

  • http://inspiredcyclist.wordpress.com/ maureen

     Another great video in this series!  I am really enjoying these, thanks!

  • Marcoal

    This video is recommended medicine for anyone who thinks they can't do it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeff.putterman Jeff Putterman

    While I applaud this video, and biking in general, I find the drivers in Queens, especially the short women who can't see over the hood of their SUVs, to be a real danger.  We need more protected bike paths all over Queens, and we need fewer gypsy cabs and cop cars parked in the bike lanes (especially 34th Avenue) we already have.

    But this is a very good start to improving our lives, and saving our planet.

  • Anonymous

    Go Marcus Go!

  • Sarah

    I loved the converts.. then they'll go out and convert 3 more each... blow out! and no room on the cycle paths anymore lol 

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. This strategy also works for eating things like BBQ, pomegranates, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Dude lost 50lb??  Congratulations--seriously.  How much money in a lifetime of potential medications and trips to the doctor did he just save?  How about time saved going to the gym or struggling with unproductive diets?  He's demonstrates the very tangible benefits commuting by bike can have on our society, and he looks great doing it!

  • Anonymous

    As a short woman reading your comment, Jeff, I'm glad I'm not driving an SUV, but riding a bike.

  • Bobneub

    Great video! I loved biking NYC when I lived there, from Bklyn to Manhattan. In the early 90s there were no barriers btw "bike lanes" and traffic, so it was always harrowing. This video does a great job showing off how cool it is to bike around the city. Can't wait to bike there again.