Section 8 (housing)

Columbia's most recognizable cyclist copes with mental illness through positive deeds

Columbia's most recognizable cyclist copes with mental illness through positive deeds

For almost two decades, Athar Khan — the “Columbia Bike Guy” — has been cycling Columbia streets every day in all kinds of weather, cleaning trash, clearing drains and helping wildlife.

Motorists honk in greeting, Khan flashes his mile-wide smile and a peace sign; police cars pass and he salutes.

“I use every millisecond of my day, approximately, for something positive,” Khan says. “I am like an institution in Columbia, somebody said.”

Diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and severe depression as a child, Khan has lived in Section 8 housing in Harpers Choice since 2000.

Khan’s mother, Shahida Khan of Ellicott City, says he has trouble with numbers, that...

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