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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sierra Club magazine features bicycles

Image of flower decorated bicycle with bicycling against oil wars sign
From Sierra Magazine, March/April 2008:

Two-Wheeled Wonder
The glory of lungs, legs, and steel

THE BICYCLE IS A MASTERPIECE of physics. It harnesses human muscle power directly to that old-time marvel--the wheel--and yields a vehicle more energy efficient than any other devised, ever, by anyone. A human on a bicycle is more efficient (in calories expended per pound and per mile) than a train, truck, airplane, boat, automobile, motorcycle, skateboard, canoe, or jet pack. Cycling is more efficient than walking, which takes three times as many calories per mile. Pound for pound, a person riding a bike can go farther on a calorie of food than a gazelle can running, a salmon swimming, or an eagle flying.

Oh, and the bicycle is hugely democratic: It is equally available to all. That's why on the highways, byways, and bikeways in most of the world, the bicycle is the most ubiquitous transport vehicle. Bicycles outnumber automobiles almost two to one worldwide, and their production outpaces cars by three to one. Rush-hour traffic in China is dominated by these human-powered vehicles. Even in the wealthy cities of Europe and Japan, a large share of the populace gets around by bike. Only here is it treated as little more than a plaything. About 50 million U.S. adults (and 40 million children) ride their bikes at least once each year, but only about 2 million are regular bike commuters. (Read more.)
I'm among those Sierra Club members who wonders why bicycles are so frequently overlooked by mainstream environmental organizations. After years of embracing "clean cars", bio-fuels, electric vehicles, hydrogen, fuel cells, CAFE standards, and other automotive pipe-dreams, could the eco-bigs be shifting to join the movement for trip reduction (livable cities, transit, density, walking, bicycling)?

The March/April issue of Sierra, published by the Sierra Club, dedicates its cover features to bicycling, including a fascinating historical article by Robert Gottlieb on the lost Pasadena-Los Angeles bike highway. Welcome to the velorution.

Image: Web capture.
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips Site
Thanks to Sierra Club's Megan Geuss for sending this.


Anonymous said...

Great article, right to the key points.

I too am amazed of how man's greatest invention is so easily excluded from solutions.

How bad is it? In St Louis, the Science Center employees travel between offices on Segways and now promote using them on the bike paths.

Anonymous said...

Environmentalists have been pilloried since Jimmy Carter for advocating that people do things that are inconvenient for them, but good for others. Somehow the bicycle ended up in that category.

Given the obseity epidemic, perhaps it does not belong there. Drivers are hurting themselves for the privilege of hurting others.

Anonymous said...

Now I wish the Sierra Club would promote USA bicycle trips as opposed to their field trips at desitnations around the globe. They rail against global warming, but yet promote people travelling across the world to help out/vacation. Talk about a double standard.

Anonymous said...

About time that the Sierra Club attached itself to bicycle usage instead of claiming that they're the worse invention short of the Hummer.

I'm an American living in Munich and the bike is king here. It's the fastest, cheapest and easiest way to travel through the city. Therefore, you see people of ALL ages using bikes to commute.

Oddly enough, people don't even think that you're crazy for riding a bike to work, the grocery store or anywhere else. The ones that get dirty looks are the car drivers. About time eh?

Smudgemo said...

Is this the same club that rails against mountain bikes at their meetings that they drove to? I'll believe the shift when I see it, but if there is one, I suspect there will be a lot of PO'd long-time members.

Anonymous said...

The cool thing is when you mountain bike to a wilderness hike to a summit, then mountain bike home! Ho about more bike parking at the wilderness trailheads for more great epics!