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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Pedal pushers: Biking as a transportation option
Biketoberfest showcases benefits of two-wheeling
 
Published Thursday, September 8, 2016 10:33 am
by Ashley Mahoney

Charlotte needs to broaden its transportation horizons.


As the second annual Biketoberfest nears, the community event will encourage people see Charlotte without driving for transportation.  


“It becomes easier as it becomes more of a habit,” said Jordan Moore, bicycle program director for Sustain Charlotte, organizer of the Oct. 15 event.


As a corporate city, biking to work sounds sweaty, messy and less than professional for someone who has to spend his or her day in a suit or heels.


“The idea of changing the corporate climate is a tough nut to crack, because you kind of have to start at the top,” Moore said. “You need businesses to put in facilities to make it possible for people to ride in wearing one thing, and then change into another. You need businesses to relax their dress codes and standards, which is something that Charlotte doesn’t like to talk about. We’re very buttoned up.”


However, getting dirty still finds its way into driving.


“You have to point out to people that it’s a fallacy that they’ve got it easy in a car,” Moore said. “I don’t know when the last time you walked out to your car on a 100 degree day was, and got in it and sat there, but you probably, like me, sweated a lot in that moment.


In addition to improving air quality, physical state and parking issues, biking fuels society.


“What it really is, is to get people to recognize that there is a different vehicle that they can use to do their shorter trips,” Moore said. “In Mecklenburg County we have something like 3.1 average trips per person in a car per day. If you were just to reduce that number by one—so that’s the trip to the grocery store and that’s the trip to wherever, the market, the Knights game—if you just chose to ride your bicycle instead, one time a day for a short trip, and if everybody in the county did it, that’s something like 800,000 people in the Charlotte area. There’s a statistic that points out that driving costs society 91 cents per mile, but pedaling a mile on your bicycle as transportation adds 21 cents positive gain to society. That’s just in air quality, health benefits and lack of impact on the road.”


As other cities push toward bike-centric models, or at least including more options for biking as transportation rather than solely for recreation, the Sustain Charlotte team uses them to explain what is possible.  


“We point to a lot of other cities that use the bicycle as transportation. We point obviously to Portland and Minneapolis, Chattanooga and Memphis, Tenn.,” Moore said. “Atlanta is really coming along. We point to the protected bike lanes in Washington D.C. and the protected bike lanes in New York City, and then of course we point to Copenhagen [Denmark], where there’s over 600,000 people a day using their bikes as transportation. We really try to frame it as there is beauty in the road ride, in the long ride. We are not trying, in any way, to undo people’s enjoyment in recreational biking.”

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