Going Green Tip #5 comes from guest author Chip Haynes. Chip is author of Wearing Smaller Shoes: Living Light on the Big Blue Marble and The Practical Cyclist: Bicycling for Real People (New Society Publishers). More info on Chip is below the post. Enjoy this great follow-up to Going Green Tip#4: Green Your Transport!
By Chip Haynes, Clearwater, Florida.
Giant Bicycles used to offer a bicycle called the Iguana. It came in green, and I always wanted one so when people asked me what I rode, I could look them in the eye and say… “I ride a Giant green Iguana.”
You don’t have to be quite that far out to go green with your bicycle- whatever you ride. Any bike you’ve got will do. You just have to do a little planning, and maybe you can leave the car at home from time to time. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Start by getting a map of your town. You’ll want a map that shows the smallest streets, since those are the ones you’ll use. If you can get a map that shows topography (elevation), that’s even better! (No need to go uphill both ways.) Take that map and draw a three mile radius from home. That’s your range on a bicycle. In a town with streets laid out in a grid, a three mile radius often means five miles on the ground to get where you’re going, and five miles is far enough. No need to overdo it just yet.
To know what’s out there and where you can go, you have to get out there, on your bicyclee, and really see what you’ve been driving past for all these years. Bring paper and pencil. Make a list of the places you can get to, where they are and their hours. Stores, libraries, movies, you name it- if you can ride there on your bike, that’s one less trip by car. Go team! You will be amazed by all of the stuff that’s close to where you live- stuff you never saw as you drove right by.
You need to not think like a driver when you ride your bicycle. That is, don’t ride your bike on the big, busy streets you usually drive. Take a good look at that street map of yours. Is there a way to get where you want to go without having to take the busy streets? That’s the way you want to go, even if it is a little further. Trust your Uncle Chippie on that one. Back streets are better- if they get you there.
But what about your bike? Well, short of riding a way cool reptile, just about any bike will do. It’s nice to have a rack or basket to help carry stuff (backpacks are awkward), and don’t forget to bring a lock or you might discover another form of green transport: walking. Always use a lock. Keep your bike clean and safe, and keep your bike tires pumped. (Bike tires seep air, so you’ll need to pump them up every week.) Start out nice and easy, with trips close to home, and before you know it, you’ll be an expert at this- and it’ll be fun. And if your bicycle replaces your car for short trips around town? Hey you just went green!
Now go ride your bike.
Chip Haynes is a small, furry suburban Hobbit-like creature that has lived in Clearwater, Florida since 1969, having moved their with his family just one week after graduating from Frontier High School in New Matamoras, Ohio. (Go, Cougars!) Happily married to The Lovely JoAnn for over 22 years, Chip is a graphic artist by profession and a published author by sheer blind dumb luck. Chip’s long-standing interest in all things bicycling brought him (quite by accident) into the dark world of peak oil back in 1997, and on to green living and the madcap land of alternative energy. He can also juggle well enough to be considered dangerous. Fair warning there.
Chip and JoAnn tend to walk more than the average suburbanites, but their neighbors are mostly use to that by now, and are never surprised to see them skipping along together, a mile from home. They also ride their many bicycles and tricycles to nearby stores and recycle like it actually matters. (To them, it does.) Their home has become a laboratory for living light and the trees in their yard actually do get hugged from time to time. They spend a lot of their spare time reading. You should, too.
Special thanks to Elizabeth (EJ) Hurst of New Society Publishers for connecting us with Chip!