Brita Climate Ride 2009

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

September 26–30th, 2009 will see the 2009 Brita Climate Ride taking place from New York City to Washington, DC, a ride of over 300 miles and will unite cyclists from all over the country and elsewhere and of all kinds.

The Brita Climate Ride 2009 is the 2nd annual event of this kind where cyclist are riding in order to raise awareness of Climate Change and the dangers posed to our world if we continue to live and consume in the way that we do presently.

Caeli Quinn, co-founder and director of Climate Ride, said the ride is a positive way for people to express their concern about climate change. "This has been a remarkable year for the advancement of climate change awareness in the U.S., but we need to see a significant commitment to curbing global warming and increasing renewable energy options," Quinn said. "Not only does Climate Ride show that it is possible to connect two of the greatest cities in the U.S. by bicycle, but we also educate and inspire along the way. Then we exercise one of our most important rights as Americans, to pay a visit to Congress. The hundred or more riders, and the thousands of people who sponsored them, make this journey possible and send a message straight to Washington – that America must take action to arrest climate change and become energy independent."

Climate Ride is the first group bicycle ride to address climate change and renewable energy issues. Climate Ride also endeavors to show that the bicycle is the ultimate carbon-free machine and a viable form of transportation.

Climate Ride was founded by Caeli Quinn, 32, (Whitefish, Mont.) and Geraldine Carter, 33, (Missoula, Mont.) to raise money for innovative organizations that are working to educate Americans about the impacts of climate change and engage them in the possibility of a renewable energy-based economy, and to mobilize politicians to enact meaningful climate change and energy policies. In 2008, they debuted Brita Climate Ride, the first multi-day bike ride to benefit climate change. They developed a roster of expert speakers (including Mike Eckhart, president of the American Council on Renewable Energy; Randy Swisher, executive director of the American Wind Energy Association; Betsy Taylor, president of 1Sky, and Wood Turner, director of Climate Counts), to educate the Climate Riders about climate science, sustainable energy, and the environment. In 2008, Climate Riders represented 30 states and a variety of cycling abilities from novices to competitive cyclists. The youngest Climate Rider was 21 and the oldest was 78.

Climate Ride is the first group bicycle ride to address climate change and renewable energy issues. Climate Ride also endeavors to show that the bicycle is the ultimate carbon-free machine and a viable form of transportation.

The bicycle is indeed the ultimate, as said above, carbon-free transportation machine and cycling a viable means of transportation, from the school run, going to the stores to commuting to work.

Unfortunately, when it comes to provisions for cyclist, in Britain, as well as in the United States, we find that they are sadly lacking, in the main.

Most European mainland countries are much more bicycle friendly, to say the least, with some of the outright leaders in that field.

Denmark and the Netherlands probably come to mind first in this category, as we are all too familiar with the pictures of cycles galore in places such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen. However, those two countries are not alone and also France and Germany especially have good provisions.

Germany has cycle paths along its entire federal road system and also on your normal country roads where there may not be a cycle path attached drivers are much more courteous towards the cyclist than they are, for instance, in the UK. This is probably because most of those drivers also cycle on other occasions.

It would appear from my experience that most if not indeed all German households have a bicycle for every member of the family and that this is indeed an alternative transportation means there. The cities all have cycle paths that are alongside the sidewalks and this all works most harmoniously.

Britain, on the other hand, makes rather half-hearted efforts as far as cycle routes are concerned though Sustrans, the alternative transport charity, has created a number of cycle routes.

It is not cycle routes for the primarily leisure cycling that we need in Britain but cycle paths on all roads across the entire country and in every city to every place. So far, however, even though often great trumpeted about by the government, any such paths are not continuous also the roads and they also are not safe for riders as there in no physical separation between them and the racing motor traffic on the roads.

A new approach is needed and one where, maybe, the law needs changing which makes it illegal to cycle on the sidewalks and many of them could, anyways, be converted to dual-use without much of a problem. Though some cyclist would have to rethink their attitude to the rules of the road and such.

© 2009