Biking is cultural where I come from. The number one form of transportation is by bike.
I’m from the northern part of Ghana, and the people are poor. They don’t have money for cars and all these things, so they all struggle to get bicycles. They travel from village to village doing business on bikes. Most of the roads are not very good, so they use mountain bikes to deal with the potholes.
I learned to ride in 1951.
The teachers taught us so we could run errands for them. These days I ride to the African markets in the Bronx. They have so many African markets in the Bronx. I have to get my local food. I ride all the way back to Manhattan and I am 73.
I have a Brompton. This is my second Brompton. The first one was stolen from me in less than 3 minutes. I left my bike outside of a convenience store, turned around, and it was gone. I got the surveillance video, made photos from the video and posted them up. Someone from the neighborhood ended up telling me where it was. The police called me and I went in and identified the thief in a line up. The State of New York gave me $150 because they said the value of the bike had depreciated.
I ride passively, I want to follow the traffic rules.
It is better to be late than to be the late William.
I have discovered that biking is very, very healthy. To me, it keeps your mind always on. When you are on a bike, you are active and alert to your surroundings. You are keeping buy. So it is very, very healthy.
My favorite story is the one about Albert Einstein and his students’ question about the meaning of life. He came back the next day with the answer:
“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving.”
William Atite is originally from Ghana, Africa, where he worked as a police officer and later a journalist for the Ghana news agency. After attending school in England, he moved to New York City. A graduate of Fordham University, he worked as administration for New York City Children Services (ACS). He has lived in New York for 33 years and rides his Brompton every day.
Interview and photos by Eric LaCour.