Bike Campaign to Reduce Global Warming

bikesBy Maria Contreras Tebbutt

Two months ago, 195 nations reached a landmark accord that will commit nearly every country in the world to lowering their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change. This deal has been hailed as a real game changer and will make a significant difference in global warming.

The accord requires action in some form from every country, rich or poor.

At the Paris conference there were people from Davis contributing to getting this deal passed. I feel good that many people I know were there from the U.S. putting on the good fight to make this deal happen. Now it is time to do the work. Much of the work will involve governments, energy policies and financial markets. But what can we as individuals here in Davis do?

I suggest that we take a look at the work of Lewis Fulton, a transportation researcher at UC Davis. Fulton says that ” . . .we also need to make changes (in our personal lives). Cycling plays a huge part in that.” A change in our personal lives is not easy to do, because we are creatures of habit. Have an errand downtown, or need a half gallon of milk? Of course – you’re going to jump in your car, burn oil and move 3000 pounds to get there, even though it’s only about a mile away . . .

Did the thought of walking or riding a bike downtown or to the grocery store enter your mind? Probably not.

Why make the change? According to Fulton, “by increasing the number of urban bike trips from 1% to 20-30%, researchers believe carbon emissions from urban passenger transport could be reduced nearly 11 percent by 2050 and save more than $24 trillion in various costs.” Half of all trips in metropolitan areas are three miles or less – 28% of these are one mile or less – distances easily covered by foot or bicycle.

This is something we can do in Davis now. Let’s change our thought process from short car trip to bike/walk trip. If you are talking the talk about global warming, you can make a big difference by walking the walk and putting your foot to the bike pedal.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Tia Will

    Thanks for the article Maria.

    I am 100% in favor of less use of the personal automobile as a means of personal contribution to what some see as a global problem. For some, this may be too far a stretch.

    So I will present other more immediate reasons for leaving the car at home and walking or biking.

    1. Personal health – exercise is one of the mainstays of personal health. It doesn’t require a trip to the gym, a tennis match or a round of golf. Walking works just fine in protection of our cardiovascular system, weight management, maintenance of muscle strength, balance and in generation of the neurotransmitters that promote a sense of well being.

    2. Mental well being – have you noticed all of the bulbs popping up around town ?  Or did you notice the turkey chicks changing from balls of feathers to young adults ? Jean Jackman and others in our community write regularly about the world all around us and how and when to best observe it. Once I got out of my car and onto my feet, I reconnected with the fact that I do not have to take any special trips to observe nature. It is all around me. But I am far less likely to “see it” from the window of my car than I am from my own two feet. Just slowing down and truly “seeing” what is around me proves a peace and connection with the world around me far greater than is available passing by at 25 mph and then having to find a parking place.

    3. Social well being – Will Arnold just sent a powerful message about the people of our community being it’s greatest asset. While it is true that a trip to the grocery store is done more time efficiently in one’s car, we seldom think about what is lost. We rarely, if ever, have a positive social interaction with another driver. However, while out walking on the greenbelts, downtown, or just around our own neighborhood there is the opportunity to run into a friend, neighbor, or interesting stranger providing us with interactions and insights that we otherwise would never have had. The world of ideas and interactions is much, much richer outside of our car than within it.

    So whether your goal is improving the world on a global level, or just your own tiny corner of it, I strongly join Maria in suggesting that in that moment when we are reaching reflexively for those keys, that we consider choosing our feet instead.

  2. Topcat

    Let’s change our thought process from short car trip to bike/walk trip.

    One of the big issues I see in Davis is that a lot of parents drive their children to school.  When I was growing up my parents would not even consider doing such a thing.  I had to walk or ride my bike to school every day.

    Are today’s children so fragile or frail that they can’t walk or ride bikes to school?  How can we get parents to change their thought process?

    1. Alan Miller

      Are today’s children so fragile or frail that they can’t walk or ride bikes to school?

      Not at birth, but by the time their parents get through with them:  YES.

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