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Posts Tagged ‘Bike’

The weather hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been good enough. The weather is no real excuse. The truth is,  I’ve been procrastinating getting back into riding my bike to work habit. But luckily, lots of other people are better at sustaining this great habit. This month is National Bike to Work Month. This week is National Bike To Work Week. And tomorrow, May 20, is National Bike to Work Day!

I’m working from home, but I pledge to get my tires filled and set to make the trek from the heights to midtown next week!

According to National bike commuter data, provided by the American Community Survey, lots more Americans are biking to work – a whopping 44 percent increase over the past 10 years. According to 2009 American Community Survey — Bike Commuter Data, New York is not doing bad as a city of bikers. In 2009, an estimated 22,619 bikers made up of 0.6% of commuters. 75% of these free-wheelers were men and  25% were woman. I’m sure the number has gone up in the last two years.

The number of bikers is about to go up in our household, too. I scored 3 new old bikes from my father’s shed over the last two weeks.

The red bike in the front is a vintage Schwinn racer. So rusty. So cool. It was my brothers when he was in high school. (If you’re reading this David, you can’t have it back!) The two ten speeds belonged to me and my dad. The gold one was the bike I took to Nova Scotia on an American Youth Hostel Bike Trip when I was 16. It’s inconceivable to me now that my mother sent me off to another country at 16. Remember kiddies, we didn’t have cell phones back then. Early on in the trip, the bike leader got hit by a car. We were somewhere outside of Portland Maine. That left eight 16-year-old’s on our own in a campground in Acadia. We were ridiculously boring while we waited unsupervised for our new group leader.

The white bike was my fathers. It’s the bike he was riding the day he stopped to help some lady find her husbands finger. The guy had accidentally cut it off mowing the lawn. My father helped locate it and put it on ice. Then his wife rushed it to the hospital. (Yes, we made jokes about the guy my father gave the finger to.)

Sure, now these dusty, rusty relics are crowding up B’s room. But soon we will all be able to hit the bike path along the river and in Central Park. Maybe National Bike Month will morph into Family Bike Summer. Sounds pretty good to me.

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September cycling

A few weekends ago, Zane and I rode our bikes down the bike path from 181st street and then across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum. It was hot but since we live in Washington Heights, the ride was mostly down hill and doable even for an 8-year-old. Still it was a first for us, and a big accomplishment for Zane.

There are a lot of people in my neighborhood who routinely ride with their kids to get where they need to go in the city. In the Spring, they ride to Sunday morning baseball at the field in Inwood. And during the summer, my neighbor across the street rode his daughter to the Urban Park Rangers Program in Inwood Park. I am ashamed to say, until a few months ago, I drove and wanted to drive to these places. But now I want to be one of those bike people — the kind who jump on their bikes, not just to go for a ride, but to get someplace.

A few years ago, I started biking to work a few days a week. I was training for the Bike New York, 5-Boro Bike Tour. I loved it, in a way. It was like getting a vacation in before work. The ride only takes about a half an hour more than the subway and the scenery is gorgeous. It was the first time I had seriously considered my bike as something more than just recreation.

Biking as a way of commuting is certainly becoming a trend — even in New York. In fact, I was excited to hear that  the city is thinking about developing a bike-sharing program which could make doing short hops in the city completely bikeable. Modeled on the Paris Vélib’ program, Mayor Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan’s vision starts with 10,500 bikes available for rent which will eventually spread to 49,000 bikes. Here’s a link to the CBS news report that talks about it.

I got so excited about it all, I decided I would start to ride my bike to work again. So I made a commitment that for the month of September, I would ride at least 1 day a week.  Of course, last week (the first week in September) I was off. Then, when this week rolled around (no pun intended), I kept rescheduling the ride. Now I’m left with just tomorrow because Friday I need to wear nice clothes.

While I was searching around for info on the City’s rent a bike program I found a lot of interesting tidbits of info, Like if your kid outgrows their bike,  Recycle-a-Bicycle will swap out their old bike for one that fits.

And Cliff Bars, through  2 Mile Challenge is giving over $25k to three charities.  The team with the most points on October 31st, 2010 earns its organization a bonus grant,  upping the take-home check of $50,000. I figured, if I’m going to be biking more, I should support a green charity. So I joined the Blue Team which is riding for the Alliance for Climate Eduction (ACE). ACE educates high school students with free multimedia climate presentations and helps them kick-start climate projects.

According to the 2 mile challenge website, 25% of the CO2 emissions comes form Motor Vehicles and we make 20 lbs of carbon dioxide pollution with every gallon of gas. Ok, it’s not news that driving isn’t green, but we are so desensitized to that message, I think it’s useful to be reminded of the facts once in a while

But the truth is, I seriously don’t want to ride my bike to work tomorrow. I’m tired. And like everything else sustainable, I know it’s going to be  inconvenient and hard. (It’s 7.5 miles each way!) Plus, I take the subway so I’m not really saving any carbon emissions by pedaling to midtown.  Ok,  I will burn some calories. And it will save me subway fare. Those are pluses, but, the real reason I want to make myself do it is because I want to model green behavior for my kids.

If I can get  into the habit of riding to work, I can start to establish other biking habits like riding to Fairways on 125th street — it’s practically on the bike path along the river.

Like a lot of the things I’m choosing to do the biggest impact I think I’m making is on my kids. They grumble and moan about my “healthy” eating and my “recycling” but when push comes to shove, they are on board.

Last weekend we went out to dinner with my father. When Blaise was done eating, he still had three slices of  pizza left in his personal pie. I had noticed that the restaurant was using Styrofoam boxes for take out, but I didn’t realize he had, too. When the waitress came over,  he asked if he could have the pizza wrapped up.

“Can you give me something other than Styrofoam to wrap my pizza in?” he asked her.

“Sure,” she said.

The next day we were at a family party, he was so proud of himself, he said, “Tell them how I asked to take home the pizza without making garbage.”

I told the story then, and I’m telling it again now. And tomorrow morning, when I don’t want to get on my bike to commute to work, I’ll think about it again. Hopefully, it will continue to help me move my good intentions into greener actions.

How to find Recycle-A-Bicycle in New York City:

East Village (Manhattan)
75 Avenue C (between 5th & 6th Streets), New York, NY 10009
212-475-1655
Hours:Mon-Sat, Noon to 7PM (Not open on Sunday)

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