This month, when I sat down and spoke with Sergio Muñiz, biking for physical and mental health along with safety encompassed the conversation. However, I must admit, I was entirely intrigued by everything else that Sergio has going on in his life in addition to his fondness for biking. His daily grind ranges from business management to new entrepreneurial ventures, and community service. With all that Sergio has going on, his physical range of motion is limited as he requires a wheelchair to get around these days. I couldn’t think of a better story to share with our readers, not solely due to its highly inspirational overtone of “despite all odds,” but also to underscore the fact that for the majority of people, biking is just a small part of who they are, less enshrined in top-of-the-line gear, tours, and competitions and much more a means for basic mobility in their community. Like air and water, humans have evolved to move out of necessity. So how well are we curating public space for the diverse range of basic mobility needs, so folx can just get on with all of the other things that they do?  As the prolific urbanist, Guillermo Penalosa, and founder of 8 80 Cities famously said, “if everything we do in our public spaces is great for an 8-year-old and an 80-year-old, then it will be great for all people.”

Introduce yourself, and tell us where you live– I’m Sergio Muñiz, I am originally from León Guanajuato México. I migrated to the U.S. here to Milwaukee on the Southside when I was about eight back in the mid-’90s and I’ve been in Milwaukee ever since. 

What do you do on the daily? – Currently for my day job I help operate an autobody shop on the Southside. I also have an interest in real estate. I recently purchased my first investment property, which I am really excited about. I’ve grown up working with a lot of community centers like Running Rebels and the Latino Community Center. In college, I did some organizing for anti-war rallies, but my passion in the community is supporting Black and Latino male achievement in public schools. Black and Latino males are a group that is suffering the most in school as far as expulsions, suspensions, which affects graduation rates. 

Mentoring is the priority amongst many other things as a way to uplift them[BIPOC male teens]. There is a need to have intentional initiatives that really direct the wants and needs of that demographic. Programs are being created and being thrown out into the world without asking those young men who are being served what they need or what they want. It’s important to use their voice to guide what the departments are doing. 

Why do you ride bikes?-Growing up I loved to ride bikes. I’ve always been Athlete oriented and played a lot of sports. Since my automotive accident biking is one of the activities that are accessible to me. 

Since the start of the COVID19 pandemic, how has cycling impacted you and or your community? – I think people have seen the benefits of cycling. There’s not really much else to do, and it seems that everyone has a bike now. I hope that people stay active now that they can see the benefits. 

What is your favorite memory on a bicycle? – One of my favorite memories growing up––I use to go with my cousins East Troy and to Kettlemorain and we used to just bike for 5, 10, 20 miles. That just kept me really active in my teens.  

What do you enjoy most about biking? – I like exploring different parts of the City to keep myself going. I ride by myself a lot. It’s a stress reliever and a clarity thing for me. 

Do you have any tips for new riders? – Know your general guidelines and etiquette. Knowing how to look over your shoulder and hand signaling is important. Some cars are reckless and they’re not paying attention to the road. Those skills are crucial.

What is your vision for safe bicycling in your community? – That bicycling can be accessible to everybody. Accessibility especially in disenfranchised neighborhoods. Not everyone can afford a bike that has access to a bike card [bike share pass], but people definitely like riding bikes. In my part of the City, I would like to see more bike lanes, more signage, and more disability-friendly facilities for bike riders. I don’t feel comfortable riding around in my neighborhood because of the heavy traffic, it requires me to drive far distances just to have a comfortable ride. Do you know how you see those free little libraries all over? I would want to see stations like that, and just give access to people for little to no money. 

Bicycling is impacting Wisconsinites for good, and we’re proud to share stories like Trevor’s from around the state. Trevor’s vision echoes the Wisconsin Bike Fed’s legislative priorities that aim to make cycling more enjoyable and safe. Join us in fighting to restore the statewide Complete Streets Policy and design streets that prioritize the needs of all users. 

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Portraits by Bike is a collaboration between Wisconsinites and their bikes and is sponsored by Barbara A. and Robert B. Monnat.