HELLOOOOOOOOO Path to Positive!
I’m joining you as the new Communities Program Director with ecoAmerica. I thought I would use this first blog post to introduce myself by way of a climate advocacy issue that is near and dear to my heart. Among my passions is active transportation, particularly bicycles! Here’s the flashiest steed in my stable:
It’s a single-speed fixed gear bike that I built myself from parts I found on craigslist. I mostly use it for short distances around town …and for generating smiles on the faces of people I pass by! It’s not the kind of bike you’d want to pedal long distances (it’s built for fun, not the long haul), but it keeps me off fossil-fueled forms of transportation for a huge portion of the journeys I make.
Recent research by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that more than 50% of daily trips taken in the United States are under 3 miles. Reducing your reliance on cars doesn’t require that you be an athlete or have expensive equipment (though I will say that a custom paint job is worth every penny!).
Sadly, though, a pair of wheels isn’t the only thing communities need in order to make bicycle transportation a more realistic option. Riding a bike in many settings – such as city streets or some back country roads – can be downright dangerous. It’s no wonder that a mere 1% of all trips in the US are taken by bike. Improved infrastructure would help; for example, in the famously bicycle-centric Netherlands, approximately 27% of all trips are made on bikes.
We’re at a crucial juncture in re-thinking America’s transportation future. We can either, as Thea Riofrancos recently put it, “electrify the status quo” or rethink the way we build our cities. Roads filled with electric cars and heavy electric trucks will be just as unfriendly to the cyclist as they are right now.
To be sure, an electric future is essential for a stable climate, but it’s not without its own environmental challenges. One EV requires approximately 400x more lithium to be mined from the ground than the typical e-bike (and infinitely more than the typical pedal bike!). So let’s reorient our thinking, learn from past mistakes, and build a future where lower impact alternatives are a real possibility.
About the Author
Brett Matulis, Communities Program Director, ecoAmerica
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