by Lisa Tome
It's hard to miss Mary Cooper's bright yellow vintage looking bike as she pedals the streets of Ceciton.
That's exactly what Cooper, Cecilton's town administrator, intended.
She wants people to notice her and talk to her about their concerns or issues.
When Cooper first started the job earlier this year, she noticed that she'd be on the streets of Cecilton in her car several times per week. "I'd be out looking for high grass, untagged vehicles, and making myself accessible," said Cooper. "As I would see folks out, I'd need a place to park to talk to them. With a bike, I'm more accessible."
In June, the Town of Cecilton purchased a bike for Cooper. It cost $119.
"I absolutely love it. I'm riding it all over town. It looks vintage but it's not. It's economical and I can park anywhere - on sidewalks and in driveways," she said.
"People are more likely to stop me if I'm on the bike. The feedback has been positive. It's great exercise and it's environmentally friendly. And it's a fun experience," she said. Prior to getting the bike, she drove 15.5 miles in her car twice a week. She said the bike has given her more freedom and more opportunity to be out checking code enforcement and meeting residents.
"Kids love it. I chit chat with kids. They follow me around town and ask what I do. That gives me a chance to educate them," she said.
Other staff may also use the bike, if needed. She has also offered residents the opportunity to ride it. So far, no one has taken her up on her offer.
When she got the bike in early summer, she priced bells and found they were too expensive.
The mayor's wife, Carrie Zang, gave Cooper a bell for the bike. The bike bell has tacos on it, so Cooper named the bike "Taco".
Cooper is hoping to stay on the bike most of the fall.
"I'll miss it when cold weather comes," she said.
She recently realized that she doesn't have a bike helmet. She wants to be a role model and said she plans to get one to wear while riding. She also carries a bottle of water, a cell phone for taking photos, and a note pad and pen.
"I love it. So many people say how neat it is," added Cooper.