Public transportation and health are two very important things in our society, but I didn’t realize quite how they intersected until asking Maria Sipin some questions on the topics. Maria, who is the Health Communications Specialist, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a passionate ally in health justice and frequent public transit user. She serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Multicultural Communities for Mobility. She is also a Blogger and Creative Team Member at Pedal Love.
Not to mention, she went to the same college as me (Cal Poly Pomona), although not at the same time. We met on Twitter of all places! Read on to hear her thoughts on public transportation, biking, health and Downtown Los Angeles.
How did you become involved in active transportation and public health?
The four-hour commute from City of Industry to my internship at UCLA had a lot to do with my involvement in advocacy for active transportation. I first tried driving and vanpooling, and the stress combined with fuel costs were unpleasant. I eventually used Metrolink train, Metro rail, bus, and a lot of walking to get to my destinations. The time and costs were the same as driving, but at least I was constantly moving during my multimodal commute and not just stuck in unpredictable traffic.
My health care internship at the medical center led to a career in community health research where I often talked with patients about the best routes to get to their appointments and discussed their transportation issues. This is how I began to see the importance between transportation and health.
As someone involved in public health and bike awareness, what do you wish more people realized?
Transportation is directly linked to health outcomes. Having access to public transportation and streets designed for walking and bicycling is essential to helping people navigate their lives. Making streets safer for people creates healthier communities. There has to be something done about the hit-and-run issue in Los Angeles. It’s alarming and it’s a public health issue too.
Where is your favorite place to bike and why?
My favorite place to bike is around my neighborhood in Downtown LA. I don’t have a special route or destination, although I really enjoy river and beach paths dedicated to bicycles and enjoying delicious food at the end of the ride. I love exploring LA by bike and finding new places to eat, shop, and hang out. I’m all about short trips.
What is one thing people are often surprised to find out about you?
People are often surprised that I don’t want to leave LA. They assume that I would enjoy living in other places because I love to travel (and because I would enjoy public transit systems elsewhere), but LA is my home. I want to continue building my life in this city and contributing the community I’m a part of here.
Tell me about some cool people in your life who inspire you on a regular basis.
I’m inspired by women in the STEM (science technology, engineering and math) fields, especially young women who are getting recognized for their innovative work and leadership. I admire people who are great mentors and dedicate their time helping others build their capacity to work in STEM careers.
What are some things that make you happy on a daily basis?
Walking with my puppies, going on pleasant bike rides, and trying new flavors at my local ice cream shop are some of life’s simple pleasures. Those are the most basic ways I practice self-care at the end of the day.
Follow Maria Sipin on Twitter to get her thoughts on active transportation, health, life in Los Angeles and more. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.