Work. School. The grocery store. We all need to go somewhere. But how we get there has huge implications for the climate. In the United States, transport – mainly cars – accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s true, electric vehicles help reduce emissions. But experts say that to really give the climate (and humanity) a fighting chance, we need fewer car-dependent people of all kinds. And that means using alternatives like public transport, walking and bicycles. But for a long time in the United States, cycling had a bad reputation. They are considered toys and hobbies – not means of transport. So we take a look at how cycling developed its silly reputation. And then we counter it with our own propaganda. Because cycling isn’t just better for the planet, it’s fun, liberating, and accessible to more people than you might think.
If you like Peter’s jingle from the episode, you can download it here.
Calls to Action:
- Go for a bike ride. if it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, ride a bike – you can take it easy.
- If you don’t know how to ride a bike, Learn to ride a bike. In the USA, The League of American Cyclists has resources on where you can find courses. Bike shops and a quick search through your favorite search engine are also great ways to find courses. For people with disabilities, iCan Bike, an offshoot of the non-profit association iCanShine offers 5-day bike camps across the United States. If you are ready to try for yourself, bike magazine has a guide.
- Push for better cycling infrastructure. People for Bikes has a “Advocacy Academy”, on how to advocate for better cycling infrastructure. The whole series is worth watching but we especially want to highlight two videos: Create a better bike path and Slow streets are safe streets. The League of American Cyclists also has advocacy tools, Bike magazine also published this advocacy guide.
- Dig into your car club. If you are a member of an automobile club, such as AAA, make sure it supports cycling. According to reports, AAA lobbied against public transport and cycling infrastructure. If you are a member, contact them to let them know you are a professional cyclist. If you’re looking to jump ship completely, there are alternatives. You can try contacting your car insurance for roadside assistance or try a third party like Better World Club. Like AAA, they also offer roadside assistance for bikes.
More reading and listening
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How to Save a Planet is a Spotify original podcast and a Gimlet production. It’s hosted by Alex Blumberg, and this week by me, Kendra Pierre-Louis. This episode was produced by Kendra Pierre-Louis. The rest of our reporting and production team includes Daniel Ackerman, Anna Ladd and Rachel Waldholz. Our supervising producer is Matt Shilts. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Our intern is Janae Morris. Sound design and mixing by Hansdale Hsu (“she”) with original music by Peter Leonard and Emma Munger. Our fact checker this episode is James Gaines.