Two years ago, preschool teacher Chelsea Petrozzo turned her love of spin class into a business idea, and CitySeat was born. CitySeat makes bright colored and portable bike seat covers that can be used on stationary spin bikes and shareable bicycles, like CitiBike in New York. We caught up with Chelsea to have her tell us why she loves biking, and why you should, too.
A shareable bike can change your life.
I started using CitiBike about two years ago when I was running late to dinner. I had only ever biked in the country so I was a little apprehensive, plus I had heels on and the traffic by my apartment is fairly crazy. I had just started prototyping CitySeat, so I figured now was the time to test the product! After I took my first ride I was hooked. There is never traffic, I get exercise while doing things I would normally be doing, and I get everywhere in the same time or less than it takes me in a cab.
Riding a bike is a new way to see the city.
I live in the middle of New York City so in a car, the scenery doesn't move so much because of traffic. It can take up to 20 minutes to get 10 city blocks. The subway is not the cleanest and always crowded. The reason I love biking is the freedom you get from being on an open road with no one near you. It's hard to have personal space in New York and riding a bike is about the only time you get that. There are so many bike lanes and the West Side Highway allows you to be outside and explore, something you don't get from alternate transportation. At CitySeat, we also really want to promote lowering our carbon footprint, so the more I can get out on the bike the better.
Biking is exercise you can fit in even without going to the gym.
I tend to bike to and from spin class three to four times a week and I try to take a long bike ride every weekend. On an average week, I log about 10 miles on a CitiBike and about 60 miles at SoulCycle. Biking is really the only exercise I enjoy, so I try to get it in when I can.
Biking is good for you and the environment.
Bicycling significantly reduces transportation emissions and reduces traffic congestion and the need for petroleum. According to Transportation Alternatives, "If 5% of New Yorkers commuting by private car or taxi switched to biking to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the amount reduced by planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan."
It's so easy to make the switch once you see statistics like this and know you could easily help our earth. It doesn't hurt that you burn a TON of calories, it tones your body, boosts your energy through the output of dopamine in the brain, and it lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Riding in a city doesn't have to be scary.
I was very afraid at first. I stuck to streets with bike lanes and would walk the extra way to avoid cross streets. One day pretty early on, I left a really invigorating spin class and told myself I was going to do it. I picked up a bike in Union Square and walked it across the big intersection. I still stayed on one street all the way down, and then turned on a street with a bike lane but slowly, I began to take more risks. It's very important to be aware and ride to the side of traffic. Cars are just as scared of you as you are of them so as long as they see you and you make yourself known, you're going to be ok! Once you get the courage the first time, you'll be able to #RideOn.
Always, always, always wear a helmet! When I first started riding I was embarrassed to carry a goofy helmet around, but safety comes first. You're not that well protected out there in the open so make sure you're safe. You always need a CitySeat to separate you from the elements and other people who have ridden before you ;). Also, as a biker, know the rules of the road and follow them. Don't try to blow through lights or go the wrong way because it's convenient. The safest and easiest way to ride is by following the rules.
And helmet hair is avoidable.
I carry a comb with me so I can quickly brush through my hair. I also often have some dry shampoo to give myself a little volume. I also keep makeup removing wipes (I love the Simple ones that don't leave any oil behind), to just refresh myself after a ride. One thing I have learned, especially on a CitiBike, is to use a purse that zips on the top so you don't lose anything along the way!
CitySeat was a no-brainer. It combined something I loved with an obvious need.
About two years ago, I was hooked on SoulCycle and became a spin fanatic. At the same time, CitiBike was coming out in New York. I was on a vacation with my family in Europe sitting at a coffee shop, watching all of these men and women riding bikes to work, dressed beautifully but with plastic bags covering their bike seats. After a few people rode by I thought, I don't get it, is there not something out there for a bike seat cover? I figured if these people were spending time getting ready and worrying about their appearance, why not take it all the way and get a waterproof, comfortable bike seat cover to go with their look?
We believe everyone should have access to a bike.
When I first started CitySeat, I knew I wanted to give back in some way and wanted to have it correspond to something with children. I'm a preschool teacher so the idea of biking and kids was on the forefront of my mind. My product designers work in Dumbo and constantly passed Recycle-A-Bicycle. We met with Karen Overton who is the director and she really captivated us. Hearing about the growth of Recycle-A-Bicycle over time and all the work they do with educating children about safe biking was really inspiring. RAB have the kids work, crafting the bikes from start to finish to get that opportunity to go on an amazing bike ride all over New York just spoke to me. When we asked what she needed, she said helmets and that was that!
Chelsea Petrozzo is a native New York preschool teacher by day and entrepreneur by night. Chelsea has always had a passion for fitness and fashion and like many, loves a good tap back during cycling class.