5 things to know if you're a new bike commuter

May 1, 2018

May is National Bike Month. Established in 1956, the monthlong observance aims to showcase the benefits of cycling and encourage noncyclists to give it a try. Trisalyn Nelson, director at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and an avid bike commuter, offered five pieces of advice for current and potential bike commuters in the Valley:

1. You don’t need any special gear. Think you can’t be a bike commuter unless you’re outfitted in colorful spandex? Think again. “You should feel totally comfortable in whatever you’re going to wear for the rest of the day,” said Nelson. “Lots of times there’s a perception that cycling requires spandex, but that’s not the case.” Bicyclist rides along ASU Tempe campus National Bike Month is a perfect time to start two-wheel commuting. Download Full Image

2. You don’t need a fancy, expensive bike. “I don’t think you need to have a fancy bike but you might want to make friends with a bike technician,” said Nelson. “I think sometimes people get turned off because they either have the wrong bike or their bike is in disrepair; it can be worth investing a little bit to make sure your brakes work well and your tires are not going to get flat all the time.”

3. You need to stay hydrated. This should be a no-brainer to anyone who has lived through an Arizona summer. It gets hot and you need to carry lots of water to stay safely hydrated. Water also offers another great benefit, said Nelson: Natural air conditioning. “If it’s getting really hot, the No. 1 thing you can do to be happier is to wear a natural fiber shirt and put water on your back, by the time you get to where you’re going you’ll likely be dry.”

4. You can use apps to help you ride safely. BikeMaps is a helpful app and website that can help cyclists find a safe route. Founded by Nelson, the website and app work globally and allow people to map their crashes and near-misses. Strava is another app, often used by athletes, that can benefit city commuters. “Recently, Maricopa Association of Governments bought Strava data so that we could try and understand ridership in the city better. You can use these apps to monitor your own movement but you’re also contributing to a massive data source,” said Nelson.

5. You can gain lifelong benefits. “If people are concerned about biking and they can find a way to overcome their safety concerns, they’ll have lifelong health and financial benefits,” said Nelson.

Nelson also emphasized ASU’s continued role in supporting bike commuters traveling to campus. “If there are things ASU could be doing to support, let us know so we can start to accommodate those requests.”

Students or faculty that ride to Tempe campus can take advantage of free showers at the Sun Devil Fitness Complex or Wrigley Hall. Learn more about resources for biking at ASU.

Kirsten Kraklio

Content Strategist and Writer, The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


A family that learns together, earns together

May 1, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Graduation. For many, it’s the culmination of four years of dedication, caffeine and great memories. For the entire Kolste family, it means so much more. Father and son in ASU shirts Father and son Doug and Brent Kolste graduate together in May when online student Doug Kolste travels to Arizona for the ceremony. Photo courtesy of Kolste family Download Full Image

In May, Brent Kolste, 28, will cross the stage to shake the dean’s hand and receive his bachelor’s degree in robotics engineering. At the same ceremony, his father, Doug Kolste, 54, will walk the same stage to receive his bachelor’s degree in engineering management, marking the achievement of a family dream over a decade in the making.

“I’ve been doing college on and off for a really long time now,” Brent Kolste said. “In that process, I got married and moved away from my family, and so I’ve always had school lingering. Graduation means that I have finally accomplished that [goal].”

After being in and out of school for several years, the younger Kolste was inspired by his family to return to college. Brent Kolste moved to Arizona with his wife nearly four years ago when she transitioned from community college to Grand Canyon University to pursue a degree in teaching.

With his educational goals back to the forefront, he chose to study robotics engineering at Arizona State University's Polytechnic School, one of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

His father, Doug Kolste, recalls a backpacking trip to climb Mount Whitney in California and the conversations he and his son had about selecting a good degree program.

“I knew Brent was smart enough. I knew he was capable,” Doug Kolste said. “Once he started down the road, with the science and the math, he got really excited about it, and I knew engineering was where he was going.”

Doug Kolste chose a similar path. When his sons were young, he began by taking classes at San Diego State University, intent on getting a degree in electrical engineering. For nearly four decades, he has worked with Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, an information support organization within the Navy in San Diego, and for the past 15 years, he took classes on and off.

His son’s upcoming graduation renewed Doug Kolste’s dedication to complete his degree. Ultimately he chose ASU because of its great reputation and the flexibility it offered through ASU Online. This spring, he’ll graduate with a bachelor’s in engineering management.

“I’m excited for him because he’s been going to school for a really long time too — most of the time I can remember, growing up,” Brent Kolste said. “He’s been on and off doing his degree. I know how that feels now because I’ve been on and off with my degree too. It’s going to be really cool to see him accomplish that part of his past.”

With Doug Kolste already working in the industry, he found that what he learned in the digital classroom often paralleled his work. What he hadn’t learned in practice, the online program strengthened in his profession. However, he admits the online classes have not been without their challenges.

“You’re often an island by yourself,” Doug Kolste said.

Digital learning makes it difficult to interact with classmates, but learning alongside his family made it easier. Brent Kolste said he feels similarly.

“My whole family is doing school now,” Brent Kolste said. “It’s been kind of fun. It’s really easy when you know that everyone you love is doing what you’re doing.”

Education has truly become a family affair. Brent Kolste’s mother, Donna Kolste, returned to school approximately one year ago to continue her education in nursing, aiming for her bachelor’s degree at Chamberlain University. Younger brother Caylan Kolste will be completing his master's in applied mathematics from Washington State University in May.

Graduation season brings with it a lot of traveling for the Kolstes. Doug and Donna Kolste will first go north for the WSU graduation ceremony and then fly down to Tempe two days later for ASU’s Undergraduate Commencement and the Fulton Schools convocation ceremonies.    

After graduation, many changes await Brent Kolste, whose first child is due in August. He has a job lined up in Alamogordo, New Mexico, as an instrumentation engineer with the Air Force.

“It’s kind of a freedom for me that I’ve accomplished what I’ve set out to do, and now I get to move on to the next phase of my life,” Brent Kolste said. “I’m really excited about that.”

Meanwhile, Doug Kolste plans to retire from his current line of work with SPAWAR. His new degree will transition him to a new phase of his career, as he moves from civil service with the government to a commercial sector job. 

He is proud that he and the rest of his family are achieving their long-time aspirations.

“You can’t give up on your goals,” Doug Kolste said. “It doesn’t matter how long it takes.”

Student Science/Technology Writer, Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering