Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Most Popular Vehicle

I was riding my singlespeed on a trail yesterday and started thinking about how empowering it is to ride a bike. People who transport themselves from place to place through their landscape are using their own pure human power. They have an energy-efficient, cost-effective vehicle that is fun and provides exercise.

I found the following links to illustrate my point. From treehugger.com:

From the same website, I found another interesting link from Princeton's International Networks Archive:
Filled with interesting facts, the graphic is a detailed picture of transportation and the world today. It's amazing to think that China has more bicycles than the world has cars.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Bicycle Commuting Diaries: Changing Landscapes

I’ve been commuting by bike for the last 10 years at various levels. Some years I’ve been pretty motivated, other years have been lean. Commuting was nice when we lived in Fort Collins, Colorado. The city planned for and accommodated bicycles on the streets. When we moved to Eagle County, Colorado things changed a bit. We first moved to Eagle and it was possible to walk to work. After a couple years, we moved seven miles down the road to Gypsum. I started commuting again – this time along US Highway 6. Most people thought I was crazy to commute seven miles, let alone on a highway. I didn’t think it was a big deal – the shoulder was adequate and the traffic wasn’t anything like the Front Range. So I’ve covered the distance between Eagle and Gypsum on and off for the last 5 years with little or no worries. And then development came…

The growth and development of Eagle County has been steadily increasing since we moved here. It started with the housing and now it’s the services that go with it. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Starbucks, etc. Everything that you’d find in a metropolitan area is already here or will be coming in the near future. This summer I have witnessed the changing of the landscape personally. Between Eagle and Gypsum I see the progression every day as a pedal up and down US Highway 6: a round-a-bout under construction in Eagle, the creation of a building for Costco and the hauling of millions of tons of dirt from a dry hillside to the end of the runway at an airport. Instead of a few cars passing me in my thirty minute commute; it’s a constant stream of cement trucks, long-haulers, dump trucks and every other kind of car. I’m getting pretty good at guessing the type of rig by the sound of the engine as it approaches me.

I definitely spend some time during each commute making note of the significant changes this year. I know that everything in Eagle County is changing. The people, the place and it’s happening in a short amount of time. People are migrating to and throughout this place and it’s happening in a very short amount of time. I wonder if it’s a good thing that Eagle County has gone from a rural area in western Colorado to an urban landscape in a rural setting?

Monday, October 16, 2006

AfricaBike Project

I'm off to Africa next spring for a special trip. My husband and I will be taking my dad to climb Mt Kilimanjaro. It's the highest mountain on the African continent at 19340 ft / 5895 m. I recently read an article that the glaciers on Kilimanjaro and Mt Kenya (17057 ft / 5199 m) will be gone within 25 to 50 years as a result of deforestation and industrial pollution. So it seems our trip will be special in a bittersweet way - we will get a chance to see glaciers that others may not see in the future. It's a pretty obvious example that our Earth and its resources are not infinite.
See the article at: http://news.bostonherald.com/international/view.bg?articleid=162001&format=&page=1

The article reminded me of a neat project that the Kona Bicycle company has put together called the AfricaBike project. Basically, Kona has embarked on a project to design, build and donate bikes for home health care workers in African countries. Not only does the project help those who are helping the fight against HIV and AIDS, it reinforces a sustainable and affordable means of transportation - the bicycle. Check out the details of the project at: http://www.konabiketown.com/