I feel like most people in the blogging world, especially those of us in environmental nonprofits, get around to the “so I biked to work today” blog. Today is my day.
I have been aiming to bike to work since February when I started here. I feel like a hypocrite doing the work I do without doing a little of my own carbon offsetting, but there is always a good excuse. Blizzard like weather, day care drop offs, not having a good bike lock, flat tire, training for a marathon, the list goes on. Finally last week the stars aligned. Our car needed to go in the shop and I “had” to seek an alternative transport option.
I was immediately hooked. Here are a few reasons why:
1. We are lucky in the Twin Cities to have some amazing bike trails, the best one being the Midtown Greenway running next to our office.
2. There is a community of people out there that bike to work, and they aren’t all in fancy outfits and riding fast bikes. Most of them look like normal people, using their bike to get from point A to point B. They are wearing jeans, skirts, dress pants, bike shorts, swim suits, and head scarves.
3. People transport what they need in amazing ways. They have bags on their shoulders, trailers behind them and baskets in front.
4. I feel healthy when I move my body in the morning. I think about my work day ahead and on the way home leave work behind.
5. You cannot safely multi-task when biking. The simplicity of it is a rarity in the life I lead of working Mom/spouse/friend/daughter/sister.
6. If I bike once a week throughout the year I will save 450 pounds of CO2 emissions and $100. Not a huge amount, but something. (Freedom Bike Calculator)
7. Finally I like the example I set for my kids and for those around me. I am a firm believer that action inspires action. I share that I biked to work as my facebook status and within ten minutes three people have commented on or “liked” my status. Thats three people that have thought about bike commuting and maybe are considering trying it.
As educators you also have an opportunity to set an example for the students you teach. If you teach in a traditional school with your summers off, try out the bike commute to school on your own time this summer to see what it is like and what the best route is. Make a goal of biking in at least once a week if it works for you and hang your bike helmet up in your classroom with pride. Tell your students why you do it, how it makes you feel and share the resources below that might be useful when planning a bike commute. The What Now? section of our education binder has a great template and steps for taking personal, community and school action. Spend some classtime discussing ways students already are making a difference (carpooling, riding a schoolbus instead of getting a ride), and more steps they can take.
Bike Commuting Resources
1. Google Maps now includes bike routes for many communities.
2. There are number of carbon calculators out there. I found the Freedom Bike Calculator.
3. REI has a number of useful articles and videos on bike commuting, as well as free bike maintenance classes. Local bike shops in your area may have similar classes.