It was a breezy but beautiful fall day, though Omar Barrios would never know it as he tapped away on his office keyboard. Each hour behind that desk and subsequent jitters painted a clear picture that this kind of enclosed environment was simply not his cup of tea. So what was he to do… more on this in a minute. A League Cycling Instructor and native New Yorker, Omar is a Bike New York superstar! Beyond two years of stellar volunteering, he recently took the handle bars as lead instructor of our after school pilot program and lead over 75 middle schoolers in bicycle basics.
He first saw the potential utility of cycling in New York City during a random ride along the Han River Greenway in Seoul, South Korea. “This is just one river,” he said, “we have at least two in New York City.” Then, amidst frustration during the 2005 transit strike, Omar shifted gears (quite literally) and biked to work. It wasn’t long before his MTA bypass became a healthy habit.
So how did he break free of that desk? Omar’s passion and positive experience with volunteer bicycle instruction spurred a new career as a freelance cycling instructor and lifestyle consultant. “I can teach anybody how to ride a bike,” he says with confidence. The secret, he notes, “is to always be encouraging; always be supportive.” While he is a fervent advocate for the obvious benefits of cycling in the city (safer streets, lower ecological impact, etc.) he also emphasizes the potential gains to public health.
Our volunteers have amazing stories and are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet. Find out more about joining our volunteer community here.
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