Climate Ride 2012

RideRichmond board member Brantley Tyndall talks about why he is raising funds to ride his bike over 300 miles from New York City to Washington, DC this May to support cycling and sustainability organizations.

I rode my bike around my rural neighborhood a lot as a kid. It was simply something to do during those simpler years, but I gave it up as a teenager. Video games and the electric guitar encroached on my teenage down time at home, and a car was much more efficient at chasing girls in high school. When I got back into biking in 2008 as an environmental studies student at VCU, this time as a novice commuter in a new city with more than a few extra pounds, I really had no idea what was in store for me and the direction in which I thought my life was headed.

I won’t belabor the subtopics of climate change I learned in college: melting polar ice, water shortages, impacts on agriculture, deforestation, desertification, ocean warming and acidification, mass extinctions, not to mention repeated record high temperatures, but suffice it to say that I found bikes to be a step in the direction away from those things.

Below is a list of 10 reasons why I am participating in the Climate Ride charity.

Feeling Good

There are many resources espousing the health benefits of cycling, such as here and here.  But what I know best is how it has improved mine.

I lost 35 lbs in 2008 as a result of biking. The weight has stayed off. I sleep better. My muscles feel good, and I rarely feel the need to take medicine…even over-the-counter pain meds. I don’t get headaches, my heart is strong, and my clothes fit better. Despite increased lung activity and exposure to the elements, my seasonal allergies and asthma have also drastically improved. Cars gave me asthma; bikes took it away. And perhaps better than all of that, I get to eat all of my favorite foods without feeling guilty.

Burning up Dead Dinosaurs (that’s a myth, by the way)

Climate scientists worldwide suggest that fossil fuel-based transportation is the third largest contributor to human-induced climate change (following electricity production and animal agriculture). Not only do bikes require massively fewer resources to manufacture and ship, they also require no fossil fuels to operate and produce no emissions but the rider’s breath.

To put this into context, here is the keynote speech from 2011’s International Transport Forum.

Urban Exploration

Bike messengers are known for their intimate familiarity with a city. They know the fastest routes, can identify overlooked nooks and crannies, and learn a lot about a city’s history and its current goings-on just by virtue of constantly traversing the network of streets and paths. Outside the sensory deprivation chamber of a car, you might find there’s a lot more to know about your town by traveling at a human pace at human scale!

Live a Little!

Lock your bike outside of the pub!  Race your friends home from class or work!  Bike joust!  Bunnyhop that pothole!  Draft a friend in heavy wind and listen to them gripe about it!  Do it all in an afternoon!

There are a lot of fun everyday idiosyncrasies in the life of a bike rider. BikeyFace is a great blog about them.

Dolla Dolla Bill, Y’all.

The average American with a car spends $10,000 a year on costs associated with car payments, upkeep, maintenance, fuel, permitting and licensing, repairs, etc. One can get a lot of nice bikes and gourmet pizzas and beers for that.

Also the city of Portland spent $60 million on the entirety of its bike infrastructure…roughly the cost of ONE MILE of urban 4-lane highway or 8 miles of rural 4-lane highway. And as petroleum costs go up, so do road construction costs to provide travel lanes for all of those expensive cars.

And here’s great series of articles called Bikenomics about how bikes, among their many great attributes, can improve the economy and our quality of life.

Community

Bike riders like other bike riders. We compare our steeds, our favorite routes, pothole war stories, the latest in professional cycling doping scandals, the best spots for an impromptu picnic, and just how plain good we feel ALL THE TIME. There is some amazing bike art. And bike film. We are moved by the characters and heroic stories of cycling’s athletes. Professional cyclists are known to endure suffering, and the pain cave is a little better if you share it with someone.

Not only that, but by narrowing the radius of your travel, you become more focused on your local area. Your neighbors, even the (silly) ones that don’t ride bikes, are that much closer all of a sudden. You’ll learn their names!  You’ll pay attention to the cohesion of your neighborhood or your local business district in ways you wouldn’t have imagined before. A coffee shop’s importance to the hub of local traffic, how improving pedestrian access to an area could improve business, or how local school children might better get to school. Hell, the term local-sexual is in regular circulation.

Plus I know which of my neighbors have herbs growing in their yards now. Sometimes I “borrow” them when my spice rack is getting meager.

Even if You’re Lazy

It’s never been easier to be car-free. And young people are growing less interested in them (and there’s data to prove it).

Every Precious Moment

I often make short trips by bike faster than someone can make the same trip by car. It’s that simple. Spend less time circling blocks in traffic as you look for a parking space. Go faster than cars, and with more style.

Chill Pill

Slow the pace of your commute. Exercise. Learn to appreciate your neighborhood more. Ride with friends. Stop for coffee or a brew. Never get stuck in traffic again…ever. Bikes make life worth living a bit more, and what’s more effective at reducing your stress?

Local Support and Visibility!

These are the four local nonprofits I’m supporting with my fundraising for Climate Ride. There are a ton of great national and regional nonprofits, but I really feel like Richmond can give them a run (or ride!) for their money.

  1. RideRichmond – We’re working on starting a co-op to address transportation issues for underserved populations, and doing it right the first time. We are measuring twice, cutting once, but expect to see our doors open soon!
  2. Pedal Power – You might be surprised how long and hard you’d have to pedal an electric generator to produce enough electricity to cook yourself a basic lunch, much less power your television or A/C unit. Pedal Power gives you the first-hand opportunity to find that out.
  3. Enrichmond – Richmond Earth Day, partner to nearly every park and green space in the city, and an umbrella organization that helps new sustainability nonprofits get their initiatives rolling. They’re like a green incubator, and everyone likes babies.
  4. Tricycle Gardens – Sustainable urban agriculture, urban food equity, DIY food, and community skill sharing. Not to mention some of the yummiest produce around.

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