Welcome to the People Powered Movement

| 8/9/2010 10:59:40 AM

LahoodResizedIt was one of my first rides in Washington, D.C. and the tourists on the sidewalk were turning to stare.

Some dressed in spandex, other in skirts and high heels, a caravan of bicyclists paraded down Pennsylvania Avenue — and I was one of them.

Our excitement was obvious and the first reason was evident. We were pedaling down America’s Main Street, cruising safely in newly painted bike lanes. Bicycles were now visible and welcome on the same strip traveled by presidents and photographed by tourists. Even more important, transportation officials had managed to add bike lanes to a street so regulated that even the hue of the pavement is precise. Meaning: Creating space for bicyclists isn’t rocket science.

But our joyride down Pennsylvania was just the happy means to an even more exciting end.

The dangerous and environmentally destructive fact is that the U.S. transportation system has been built on one basic premise — move an ever-growing fleet of gas-guzzling vehicles, as far and as quickly as possible. That concept has spawned urban sprawl and strip malls with parking lots the size of football fields. That car-centric mentality has made Americans more sedentary, adding to an epidemic of obesity and heart disease. Perhaps most importantly, it makes us prime culprits in changing the earth’s climate. Currently, more than one-third of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.

Our entourage on this June afternoon was organized by a handful of national advocacy groups, including America Bikes and The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, that are attempting to change that paradigm. I had just started a communications job at the Alliance for Biking & Walking, a nonprofit group that trains and supports grassroots bicycle and pedestrian advocates. My small contribution to this little road trip was bouncing along in a bike trailer bringing up the rear — a poster-size thank-you card for the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

Sean Wenger
9/1/2010 8:45:33 PM

Has anyone Googled "Winter Action Riding on Electric Bike" and checked out the YouTube video? I know this guy has been using that bike as transportation to and from work for 2 years (winters included). On flat ground he can get it into the 50km/hr range sometimes up to 60km/hr under ideal conditions (no wind or a tail wind). The weather proofing/winterizing and some of the equipment (like storage bags and breaks) have evolved since the video was shot.

8/23/2010 11:19:10 AM

london has infact an amazing bike sharing program (more that 400 spots and 2000 bikes). When the bikes need to be moved they use special electric vehicles (Alke) with zero emissions as well.

Lisa G
8/22/2010 7:41:38 AM

I live just outside of DC. I drive 30 min. to work (which is short for this area). I would love to be able to ride my bike to work but know that a lot must change for that to be safe and doable for me. Thank you to everyone involved for working to make this happen. It is a small start but a least it is a start. This is a very good thing.

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