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Climate Ride Pedal Power for a Sustainable Future

Pedal Power for a Sustainable Future


A rider with the California Climate Ride pedals for the planet. Photo: Climate Ride

By Erica Flock, EarthShare Online Manager

I grew up in
Southeast Michigan, home of the Motor City. Meet anyone from the Detroit-area
and chances are you can unearth a story about a family member or friend who
works for the auto industry. My own great-grandfather worked at the very first
Ford assembly plant in Highland Park, MI.

It’s safe to say
the automobile is in my blood. That’s why when I sold my car in 2012, I was
going against some pretty potent DNA. Turns out I’m not alone: the number of
American households without a car
has doubled in the
last two decades

Now I live in Washington, DC
and get around by Metro, bus and walking. But by far my favorite mode of
transportation is biking. Nothing compares to whooshing down a tree-lined hill
with your freewheel buzzing and the warm sun on your face.

The growth of
cycling is good for everyone: people who commute by bike
have higher levels of satisfaction than those who use
other forms of transportation,
they’re healthier, and they provide
a huge boost
to local businesses. Even motorists
benefit: more people biking and taking transit means less congestion on the

This simple,
satisfying machine is also the answer to so many of our environmental
challenges. Even small improvements in our biking and walking infrastructure
could avoid 70
billion miles driven in cars
. That would put a dent in U.S. greenhouse gas
emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector. Just take a look at how Vancouver has done it:


EarthShare member
Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is making it easier for cyclists to get from point
A to B. Not only do they support
a growing network
of 1,400 rail-trails
around the country, they’re also working to ensure that 90% of
Americans live within three miles of a trail system by 2020 through their
Campaign for Active Transportation.

Part of why I
decided to go carfree in 2012 was my proximity to a rail-trail that made it
easy for me to
get to work by bike. Rather than sit
in traffic after a day at the office, I get to pedal through the forested
Capital Crescent Trail on my way home. And each ride reveals new discoveries:
turtles, snakes, butterflies, the changing seasons.

To support
organizations that are making commutes like mine possible for more people,
I decided to sign
up for the Climate Ride this year
. This
September, I’ll join about 200 riders as they pedal their bikes from New York
City to Washington DC. Over the past five years, Climate Riders have raised
over $1 million for groups like Rails-to-Trails Conservancy that are tackling
our most pressing environmental issues and making our communities more vibrant
and healthy places to live.


2012 NYC to DC riders arrive at the Capitol Building / Photo: Climate Ride

If someone like me,
a person raised in the suburbs of the Motor City, can travel the 300 miles between
New York and DC on nothing but human muscle, imagine what else is possible if
we begin working for the world we want?

My ideal world is
one in which our energy comes from the sun and wind rather than from burning
fossil fuels, and where kids and adults alike can safely get where they need to
go without needing to rely on cars. If
you’d like to help get us there, read Rails-to-Trails report,
Transportation for America
or visit
website. And be sure to read our tips on getting there by bike.

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