Among those commuting to work during the ice storm this weekend will be a homeless man, Keith Callison, who rides a bike.
Callison came to Wichita in September, having bicycled from California to find a job, he said.
He’s getting straight A grades while attending composite manufacturing classes at Wichita Area Technical College. He works at the Goodwill store at 37th North and Oliver, and rides his bike to work and to school. He lives with other homeless men at the Union Rescue Mission on North Hillside.
Snow, glazed ice and bitter cold were all new to him when he arrived from Escondido, Calif. People warned him how dangerous ice-glazed roads can be to a bicyclist. “They said don’t ride it if you don’t have to,” he said.
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Callison planned to bike from the Mission on Saturday to work at Goodwill from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s not too bad out there right now; I was expecting a lot worse,” he said Saturday morning. “Today I’ll leave an hour early, and if I have to, I’ll just walk the bike to work. Otherwise, it’s only a 10-minute ride.”
I’ll just walk the bike to work.
Keith Callison, homeless man
He’s scheduled to work at Goodwill again on Sunday, starting at 12:30 p.m., when meteorologists say the ice storm will be at its worst. Ice could accumulate up to half an inch.
“The city buses don’t run that way, and I’ve really got no choice, but it’s all right,” Callison said. “I gotta get to work and be there on time, and I’ve got God protecting me.”
Many people in Wichita, intrigued by his story of being a drug user who is trying now to stay clean and find a job, have tried to help him. They’ve offered rides in cold weather, bus passes, thick jackets and more; but he’s turned nearly all of those offers down.
Last week the Bicycle Pedaler, a shop in east Wichita, talked him into letting them repair his bike and give him new tires. “They did a nice job,” he said.
The chief joy about bike riding – and also the most troublesome threat to bike safety – is the stretch of bike trail he rides east from the Mission to get to work and to WATC classes.
“It’s a beautiful trail,” Callison said. “But the wild deer between Hillside and Oliver are tame, not afraid of us humans, and they jump out in front of me all the time at night.
“I’m glad I’ve got a light on the front end of the bike.”