April 1, 2010

Green commuting

Here in the Northeastern region of the U.S., spring has officially arrived! We're supposed to see temperatures near 80(F) this weekend, highly unusual for this time of the year. In addition to getting my garden started, I'll be out on my bike. As you can read in my bio, cycling is a big part of my life.

There are lots of good reasons to bike: it's good for your health, connects you to your surrounding community, reduces the amount of your budget for transportation, and reduces impact on the environment. I first wrote about this at RocBike in 2007, but since this is my first post for sew green, I thought it would be a good idea to re-visit the green reasons for bike commuting.

According to The Consumer’s Guide to Effective Environmental Choices from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the 3 priority areas for consumers in reducing environmental impact are: transportation, food, and household operations. These are the 3 areas in which individual consumers can have the most impact, with transportation being numero uno.

The 5 specific recommended actions to reduce your transportation impact are:

1. Choose a place to live that reduces the need to drive.

2. Think twice before purchasing another car.

3. Choose a fuel-efficient, low-polluting car.

4. Set concrete goals for reducing your travel.

5. Whenever practical, walk, BICYCLE, or take public transportation.

The Earth Policy Institute reports that since 1970, bicycle production has outpaced automobile production, with bicycle production having quadrupled while car production has doubled. The report is optimistic about the potential of bicycling for reducing traffic congestion and pollution.

If you're an aspiring bike commuter, here are a few resources to help you get started:

--Bike Commute Tips blog by Paul Dorn.
--Ten Bike Commuting Myths Dispelled
--and there's always RocBike, which is especially relevant to those of us in wintry climes, but also expresses the sheer joy of bike commuting.

Finally, if you're concerned about safety, check out my post about how I overcame my own fear, after a near-miss accident involving my daughter.

I admire people who are completely car-free, and aspire to be one some day. But I haven’t quite figured out how to make that happen. However, I have been able to figure out how to live less than 5 miles from my place of work/study/yoga practice/spiritual community. I bike, walk, or bus whenever feasible, but since I do have access to a car, I have some guidelines about when I'm "allowed" to drive, which include circumstances such as extremely inclement weather, work-related reasons to drive, illness, and carrying very heavy loads.

What about you, our readers? How do you "green" your commute? Any other bike commuters out there? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments, as well as any suggestions for future transportation-related posts you'd like to see here at sew green.


Proud Mama said...

I would love to bike more as part of my daily activities. I have three children under 6 and it can be difficult. We ride our bikes to the park, but find it hard to do it for other outings. Any advice out there? I have a trailer for the 2yo, and the other two can ride two wheelers. We live close to public transportation, but the time involved can be daunting when three children are factored into the equation.

Saffron Panda said...

Currently I am not a biker because my bike was unfortunately stolen about a year and a half ago, but I am a big walker. I lived in DC for about three years and was accustomed to walking everywhere (it was easy and enjoyable because there was so much to look at).

Relocating to Des Moines was slightly disconcerting because it seemed as if you needed a car to get anywhere and the public transportation system has a ways to go before it can be considered effective. However, my apartment is close to the downtown area and if the weather is nice walking ten blocks to the grocery store can make for a lovely trip.

I think if newer communities and some already longstanding ones can recognize the benefits of incorporating walkability to their layouts, reassessing their approach to civil planning will follow naturally. Being able to live without the financial burden of a vehicle, being face to face with other people on the street, and getting in a moderate amount of daily exercise just by going about my day is what I miss most about DC!

Georgina (bookpublisher) said...

After a terrible stomach upset I started biking again with my 21 year old daughter. It was wonderful, but I would agree that without public transportation getting around for some can be tough.

Di said...

For us, biking is more of a recreational venture, although my husband often collects our son from childcare on the bike.
I think the main reason I don't bike more is distance from the city and the convenience of public transport, for my work commute, or the ability to carry things for other household errands.
That said, my husband used to bike to work when he was going through a fitness kick, which has to be one of the best outcomes of biking!

Anonymous said...

This stupid!! Come on!! --->dEAR bIKER, thank you! Love Mother Earth???!!! and spend a entire paper!!! that not cool!! its really stuuupid! damn!

http://cultured-diamond.blogspot.com said...

Biking, the same as other different ways used to reduce human impact on the nature, is great I think. Yeh, transportation has devastating impact on the environment, and it's nice your family is eco conscious. My husband love cycling too. Nice blog and ideas I found here. Carry on!