Wagging Around Town
Adapted from an interview with Dakota Parks
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is going out on Sunday afternoons exploring with my dad on our bikes and discovering new areas. I grew up in Cantonment, FL, and from an early age, I would get on my bike and ride around the rural backroads. I love the freedom of being on a bike. It’s joy on two wheels.
Riding a bicycle regularly has made me more aware of the seasons, my surroundings, and my neighborhood. It’s so much easier to stop and chat with neighbors when you are on a bike.
I’m the owner of East Hill Dog Walking Company, where I both walk and train pups in the local area. I have one dog and two cats and live in an almost 100-year-old home in East Hill. I love doing anything that allows me to be outside— hiking, running, paddle boarding, and biking.
When I finally got a job that I could bike to, I realized how much easier it was to commute without all of the typical road rage and spending money on gas. Weather permitting—when it’s not downpouring—I bike to all of my client’s homes. One of my criteria for new clients is that they must be within a bikeable distance from my house. That led me to using my bike to travel downtown, go grocery shopping, run errands, and visit the Palafox market without having to deal with finding a parking spot.
My bike is a Trek E-bike—pedal assist only, so I don’t have a throttle. I got it in April 2017 and currently have over 9,400 miles on it, which are local only. I also have a road bike that I use for triathlons and training for longer distance rides. I started with a hybrid bike in 2007 for triathlons, and I started commuting to work on my bike every day back in 2014.
I typically bike alone, but I do assist with coordinating the volunteers during Bike Pensacola’s slow rides, usually leading alongside Christian Wagley. We also bike together to events, the beach, and for fun anytime we can.
Being able to bike across the Three Mile Bridge to Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach has been amazing, and I can’t wait until they get the other side of the bridge complete so it’s safer for both cyclists and runners. I would love to see more protected bike lanes and intersections in Pensacola to make it safer for cyclists as well as continuous sidewalks that make it easier for walking and running.
I’ve been involved with Bike Pensacola since its inception, serving on the board of directors, helping with slow rides, and brainstorming how we can better serve the community. Our goal of making Pensacola more bike friendly and safer to ride means that more people can enjoy that love on two wheels.