Make Biking Cool (Again)! | How to Save a Planet

Work. School. The grocery store. We all have to get somewhere. But how we get there has a huge impact on the climate. In the United States, transportation – mostly automobiles – accounts for about a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s true, electric vehicles help to reduce emissions. But experts say we need fewer people relying on cars of any kind to really give the climate (and humanity) a chance. And that means using alternatives such as public transport, walking and cycling. But in the United States, cycling has long gotten a bad rap. They are seen as toys and recreation – not as a means of transportation. So let’s take a look at how cycling got its stupid reputation. And then we counter it with our own propaganda. Because cycling is not only better for the planet, it’s fun, liberating and accessible to a lot more people than you might think.

If you like Peter’s jingle from the episode, you can download it here.

Calls to Action:

  • Go for a bike ride. if it’s been a while since you’ve ridden a bike, ride a bike—it’s okay to take it easy.
  • If you can’t ride a bike, learn to ride a bike. In the United States, The League of American Cyclists has resources on where you can find courses. Bike shops and a quick search on your favorite search engine are also great ways to find courses. For people with disabilities, iCan Bike, a subsidiary of the non-profit organization iCanShine, offers 5-day bike camps in the United States. If you’re ready to try it yourself, Bicycling Magazine has a guide.
  • Push for better cycling infrastructure. People for Bikes has an online advocacy academy on how to advocate for better cycling infrastructure. The whole series is worth watching, but we want to highlight two videos: Making a Better Bike Lane and Slow Streets are Safe Streets. The League of American Cyclists also has advocacy tools, Bicycling Magazine also published this advocacy guide.
  • Dive into your car club. If you have an auto club membership like AAA, make sure they support cycling. According to news reports, AAA has campaigned against public transit and bicycle infrastructure. If you’re a member, let them know you’re a professional cyclist. If you want to disembark entirely, there are alternatives. You can try contacting your car insurance company for roadside assistance or contacting a third party like Better World Club. They, like AAA, also offer roadside assistance for bikes.

More reading and listening

If you take an action that we recommend in one of our episodes, do us a favor and tell us about it! We’d love to hear how it went. Record a short voice memo on your phone and send it to us through our E-mail form for listeners. We could use it in an upcoming episode. You can find all the actions we recommended in our show here!

How to Save a Planet is a Spotify Original Podcast and Gimlet Production. It will be moderated by Alex Blumberg and this week by me, Kendra Pierre-Louis. This episode was produced by Kendra Pierre-Louis. The rest of our reporting and production team includes Daniel Ackerman, Anna Ladd and Rachel Waldholz. Our supervising producer is Matt Shilts. Our editor is Caitlin Kenney. Our intern is Janae Morris. Sound design and mixing by Hansdale Hsu (“She”) with original music by Peter Leonard and Emma Munger. Our fact-checker in this episode is James Gaines.

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