Pottery studio owner Leah Schaperow isn’t just throwing clay on her studio’s pottery wheel. She’s hopping on an ebike and discovering that two wheels can indeed be better than four.
“Before I had an ebike, I just didn’t go out in the neighborhood,” explains Leah. “Now, I feel safer. If I need to use the throttle and get out of a situation, I can. That makes me more free and independent to go places on my own.”
That freedom of movement has Leah running errands, touring her new home city of San Diego, and commuting back and forth from her pottery studio, Milk Oolong Pottery, a business she opened at the beginning of the pandemic. Her studio, located in Liberty Station, teaches classes, private lessons, and offers “clay at home” kits, a sculpting experience that Leah uses her ebike to personally deliver.
Ditching the Car
One would imagine that with all this biking, Leah was a lifelong cyclist. However, like many of our Rad Power Bike community, that wasn’t the case. Before she was riding past the ocean and benefitting from daily outdoor excursions, Leah, as she puts it, “was never into bikes at all. I’d maybe ride a bike a mile or something on a trail.”
Her partner pointed out ebikes to Leah, and upon moving to southern California, she made the leap from driver to rider. “I really liked that it was a step-through and had the rack already integrated,” says Leah. “I would never be on a bike and not carry something. I always have my purse or water bottle.” Leah outfitted her RadCity Step-Thru with large baskets in front and back, and made quick use of the storage, loading up with pottery supplies, finished ceramic pieces, and the requisite grocery run – you name it, her bike carries it.
The best part for Leah? “I don’t have to work out after a day at work. I can, but I don’t have to.” Leah relishes the use of pedal assist to cruise up hills with ease. Her job can involve heavy lifting of clay and equipment, and her ride home shouldn’t require herculean effort, too. “It’s so nice to be outdoors at the end of the day,” Leah says, marveling at her newfound method of commuting. “It’s amazing.”
Yet, with all this biking, Leah observed that the rides could be better: “I didn’t love all the streets I was riding on,” she says. “I want to help make them better and safer.”
After all, the newfound freedom and safety with an ebike can sometimes need help from urban planning, too. She realized that if you want to see change, you make change. Leah joined the nonprofit BikeSD, and helps advocate for safer streets. Just recently, the city installed a protected bike lane on her street. Leah even helps the nonprofit by crafting ceramic mugs for the organization’s fundraiser.
An artist who is using their creativity to make the world a better, safer place? Now that is beautiful.