Welcome Back to Nancy’s Pedal Power!

Nancy’s Pedal Power!

Sustainability for the Common Good: individual lifestyle choices make a difference!

It’s nice watching the bees pollinating the sunflowers in my garden –  grown organically – pesticide free

solar power/biodiversity/ chemical cycling

Week # 4  Final Personal Reflections!

So first, a tally of how many miles I’ve bicycled in these past four weeks to fulfill my personal sustainability promise (PSP) to commute by bicycle at least three times a week and cut down on CO2 emissions by leaving my car in the driveway.
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thurs Friday Sat Total
Week 1
2 miles 10 miles 8 miles = 20 miles
Week 2
2 miles 2miles 8 miles 5 miles 11 miles 2 miles = 30 miles
Week 3
2 miles 8miles 4 miles 3 miles 2 miles 6 miles =25 miles
Week 4                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         6 miles 5miles 8miles 2miles 8 miles 6miles =35 miles

Wow!  I biked 110 miles in these past four weeks!  I started out with three times a week the first week and liked it so much that I biked six days a week the last three weeks!
25 miles per gal
$3.60 gal/25 =
$.144 gal x 110

…Feels so good, I biked 8 more miles today 🙂 
school is 1 mile away and work is 3 miles away…back and forth adds up!

SAVED MONEY and REDUCED CARBON EMISSIONS
My pedal power ecosavings came to $15.84 not spent on gasoline and 110 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions not burned into our atmosphere.

I feel really good about this!  I didn’t realize that just commuting back and forth to campus and downtown a couples of times a day could add up so quickly to over 100 miles.  It really impresses me that each month I have the power to save over 100 lbs of CO2 emissions from polluting and contributing to global warming.  It’s staggering!

Not only is it politically correct and environmentally responsible but it just purely felt good!

Part of the art of living is to get enough regular exercise.  Sometimes the demands of school, work and single parenting appropriate me and I get frustrated about when to fit in deeper exercise.

PLANS TO CONTINUE CYCLING REGULARLY

I plan to keep riding my bicycle regularly for all of the above environmental, political, health and recreation reasons. I’d forgotten how much I love it. Cruising around with the summer breezes on my skin just gives this luxurious feeling of being more alive.

EASIER PARKING TOO

There’s also an added benefit of the convenience of free parking right at the doorstep of where I need to go.  When I drive my car to school, it often takes an extra 5-10 minutes searching for free parking spots that are at least a quarter mile from where I need to go.

SIGNIFICANCE IF EVERYONE WOULD DO THIS

WOW!  It really makes me smile to think if  40,000 people in a town like Corvallis would leave their car in the driveway and ride their bike or walk for 25 miles each month, it would add up to 1 million miles, reducing CO2 emissions by 1 million lbs.  40,000 people would also save about$1,440,000 not spent on gasoline that could be invested into something else that enhances the overall health of the community.  25 miles a month is only 6.25 miles per week for each citizen.

ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND ECONOMIC MODEL OF SUSTAINABILITY

An article published in the International Journal of Global Environmental Issues,2006, entitled Issues in sustainable transportation by Todd Litman and David Burwell explains that originally the concept of sustainability had a narrower scope of management of limited natural resources and pollution control, but has gradually evolved into comprehensive planning for long term environmental, social and economic viability ( 334).

sustainability

This image shows how environmental, social and economic assets and liabilities overlap.  Litman gives the example of how pollution in water is an environmental factor that also effects human health (social factor), and the fishing industry as an important human economic factor (334).

Litman states that sustainability promotes a conservative ethic to minimize consumption, harm, and waste as opposed to a consumption ethic that promotes consumption irregardless of environmental degradation, social harm and inefficiencies of waste (333-334).

This is exciting as it creates a sustainable model that factors in all of the benefits that I’ve been talking about that I gained from succeeding at my PSP project.

environmental, social and economic foundations of sustainability

(Litman 334)

ENVIRONMENTAL ASSETS OF BICYCLING MORE

As I emphasized in my first two blogs from articles by Bill McKibbens and the Union of Concerned Scientists, global warming is a huge global environmental threat.

My group presentation covering chapter 7 from Miller’s text, Environmental Science, explained how climate balance creates environmental foundations like adequate temperature, water and growing seasons for survival of species in diverse ecosystems in the arctic, temperate and equatorial climate zones.

Scientific research has shown conclusively that accelerated levels of human factored CO2 emissions, increasing at an international rate of 3% annually, have effected a steady increase in temperature that is melting our polar ice caps, increasing acidification in the oceans and killing coral reefs, melting permafrost zones, increasing moisture content in air above the ocean and impacting widespread droughts, forest fires, flooding and rising sea levels that threaten both farming and coastal communities.

Climate change wreaks havoc socially and economically when people die from droughts and floods disrupting environmental stability necessary for growing the crops we need for survival.  CO2 emissions have impacted 50% of coral reefs to die. This environmental degradation directly impacts human health and economy of all coastal dwellers who depend on the biodiversity of the marine life (fishing industry) that depends on the ecosystem of living coral reefs for survival.

My personal choice to bike instead of driving this past month reduced CO2 emissions by 110 lbs and this shows that we all can make a tremendous impact on the reduction of CO2 emissions to protect all communities environmentally, socially and economically.  It takes weaning ourselves from the go fast car habit, leaving the car in the driveway and going on foot or by bike at least three times a week.  I was startled that I was driving that many miles back and forth to school and work when I’m only 3 miles from work and a mile from school.

SOCIAL ASSETS TO HUMAN HEALTH

In my blog about the economics of biking I included an article by Elly Blue entitled How bicycling will save the economy (if we let it) | Grist

Blue includes a link to a bicycle resource called Bikes Belong that is dedicated to promoting all of the environmental, social and economic assets of bicycling for sustainability for our planet. The statistics that support the social health benefits of bicycling are startling.  Here are a few that reinforce my commitment to keep bicycling at least three days a week.

These statistics support my personal valuing of the societal health benefits of bicycling.  Getting out in the fresh air and strengthened my legs with all that pedaling, gave me more energy and enhanced my feelings of well being.  These statistics show a national epidemic of sedentary lifestyle and excess weight that defines a national need/ liability to fit in more exercise in our daily routines.  Commuting by bicycle is one excellent solution.

ECONOMICS OF BICYCLING

As stated earlier, the environmental, social and economic factors overlap.  A statistic from Bike’s Belong shows how the increasing rates of obesity in America are an economic liability as well:

This argues my case for bicycling being an economic asset as well as a social health solution for trimming both personal and national budgets, freeing up funds to go to other things that support our well being.
Buying local and organic at the farmers market, coop and other local businesses are great ways to boost the local economy, creating jobs for people in our community.  Riding our bikes to get there keeps the money that we save on gasoline circulating in our own local economy!

I loved the articles about improving the infrastructures for increasing the amount of bicycling globally.  It’s exciting that planning ahead for the design of roads and bridges to include bike lanes, bike paths, bike boulevards and bike rails improves accessibility and safety and therefore promotes people to walk and cycle more for the many health, environmental and economic benefits.  It makes a huge difference for the safety of cyclists when there are well marked bike paths and lanes, especially at intersections,  that remind car drivers to slow down, be on the alert for, and respect a distance of three feet for passing. The new cycle rails actually have a wall separating the bicycle and car lanes to further protect cyclists in large cities.

Here’s a statistic from Bike’s Belong that supports this claim:

  • Bicycling in Minneapolis, Minnesota increased 47% from 2007-2011. From 2010-2011, the city expanded its on-street bikeway network by 75%. City of Minneapolis Public Works Department, 2012. 2011 City of Minneapolis Bicycling Account

In my first blog I cited international evidence of bicycling increasing  ten fold in Seville Spain after funding for bike lane infrastructure was implemented.

On the state and national level, I was very excited to learn about the U.S. funding $2 million dollar to research on bike and pedestrian friendly transportation infrastructures of the six leading biking cities in America.  This is an excellent example of governmental institutions subsidizing research and development of green, sustainable technologies.  The research by Oregon Transportation Research Education Consortium OTREC will become a technical  manual for implementing pedestrian and bicycle friendly transportation infrastructures in other cities.

CONCLUSION/SOLUTIONS

In conclusion, after reading Bill McKibben’s article that states that big industry has already bank rolled the burning of 5 times the amount of  carbon emissions than the Kyoto and Copenhagen accords said would max us out with environmental/social and economic disasters, it shows that we all have to take action now to reduce carbon emissions.

Here are a several solutions to target to lower CO2 emissions

  • support local and organic
  • choose vegetarian or lessen meat consumption to free range
  • Join Greenpeace and National Resource Defense Council as an excellent way to put our money and political clout to stop arctic drilling, stop tar sands Keysone XL from being fracked, stop mountain top mining
  • Write our Congress people to help pass legislation to regulate corporations to internalize their costs and take responsibility to not harm people and environment
  • We must stop giving subsidies to fossil fuel industry but heavily tax them and subsidize research and development of renewable energy sources.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle, repair
  • use birth control, keep families small, consider adoption
  • stop land clearing and restore native vegetation and sustainable forestry

And….leave the car in the driveway as much as possible as a really nice way to pedal power our way towards sustainability : environmentally, socially and economically.

 

References:

Bikes Belong. (2012). Resources: Statistics: New statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bikesbelong.org/resources/stats-and-research/statistics/new-statistics/

Litman, T. & Burwell, D.(2006) Issues in sustainable transportation. International Journal of Global Environmental Issues,  6(4),331-347. Retrieved from http://inderscience.metapress.com/content/A7M314BU3RTE2CB4

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Comments
  1. julie says:

    I love your pictures, Nancy! Enjoy those sunflowers!

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