Eco-Friendly Bicycling

The full name of this website is “EcoVelo: Eco-Friendly Bicycling”. A few people have asked what we mean by “eco-friendly bicycling”, since all forms of bike riding produce no pollution. We define eco-friendly bicycling as, “Using a bicycle in place of a polluting vehicle to reduce our environmental impact.” This could mean a single trip to the grocery store or a full-blown car-free lifestyle — as long as a car trip is replaced, the impact has been reduced and the activity falls into what we think of as eco-friendly.

Partaking in an activity that produces no pollution is not the same as reducing your overall environmental impact.

Typically, all forms of bike riding are assumed to be eco-friendly. You get on a bike, you go for a ride, and no fossil fuels were burned in the process — it seems pretty obvious and intuitive. Even bicycle racing, on its surface, appears eco-friendly. But upon closer inspection, recreational bicycling is only “eco-neutral” in the same way watching television or playing basketball are eco-neutral. Partaking in an activity that produces no pollution is not the same as reducing your overall environmental impact. You wouldn’t say “eco-friendly television watching”, even though watching television produces no pollution.

This is not a dig on recreational bicycling. The fact that it’s a healthy, enjoyable activity has its own value and rewards. Plus, (and most importantly) it may eventually lead people to riding a bicycle for transportation. But let’s not delude ourselves; riding solely for pleasure doesn’t replace a car trip or take a single car off the road. If we really want to reduce our environmental footprint, we need to look at bike riding as a healthy and enjoyable way to replace motor vehicle trips.

Gallery: John’s Rohloff-Equipped Surly Cross-Check

This is a Cyclocross bike that I built from the frame as a commuter bike. It has drop bars but a long steerer tube to put the bars up level with the seat. I have a Rohloff hub in the back and a Schmidt SON dynamo hub on the front wheel. It is equipped with SKS fenders and a Jannd rack. I use a combination of a Dinotte 200L and the Schmidt E6 for the front lights and a Dinotte tail light. —John

A Different Kind of Road Rage

Read about it here

A Hearty Welcome to Planet Bike

We’re pleased to welcome our newest sponsor, Planet Bike. We’re ecstatic about having them onboard; their company philosophy is perfectly aligned with our mission here at EcoVelo:

Planet Bike is this idea where people ride bicycles. They ride them to work. They ride them to school. They ride them to the grocery store, to concerts, sporting events, coffee shops, and to grandma’s house, too. The products we design are rooted in this dream and stem from the fact that we live this idea. We ride through day, night, heat, cold, rain and snow. We don’t come up with these products in a boardroom under the sterile glow of fluorescent lights. We design while we ride and we ride with what we design.

The reasons that we love riding and want others to share the love are as numerous as our pedal strokes. Riding in place of driving reduces air and noise pollution. It boosts endorphins and clears the head. Riding strengthens the cardiovascular system, gives you good strong legs, and burns extra calories to boot. Besides all that, it’s a whole heck of a lot of fun.

Just as we are conscious of the way cycling affects people and the environment, we are also aware of the impact that our products have on them. We feel that it is our responsibility to be accountable for our products from production to disposal. This entails everything from ensuring a fair wage for factory workers, designing products to be both durable and fixable, minimizing packaging and using recyclable materials whenever, wherever we can.

Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” The change we want should be obvious by now, but to be that change we feel that we need to do more than just create products that make it easier for people to bike. That’s why we donate 25% of our profits to grassroots organizations that facilitate the use of bicycles. We want to take part in a transportation revolution and hopefully inspire other companies and individuals to join us.

So lets all ride our bikes and take better care of the planet we live on a little better. That’s really what we’re all about.

Yup, you read it right. Planet Bike donates a full 25% of company profits to grassroots bicycle advocacy groups. Since 1996 they’ve donated over $650,000, and they aim to donate a total of $1,000,000 by 2010. Most of their money goes to the Thunderhead Alliance, a coalition of 128 bicycle advocacy groups that are working together to promote safe bicycling.

Planet Bike is a company worth supporting. They offer excellent products at excellent prices, while supporting the bicycling community in a BIG way.

Planet Bike
Planet Bike Advocacy in Action
Planet Bike Supercommuters

Gallery: Steve’s Bridgestone MB-3 Commuter

Attached is a picture of one of my four bikes, the one I use most for daily transportation, including commuting 2.5 miles one way to work. It’s a ’93 Bridgestone MB-3 frame that I had powdercoated black 3-4 years ago, and I built the bike up using a variety of new and NOS components. It’s very Rivendellesque, as you can tell. The lights have since been replaced with battery-powered LEDs, the front bag has been replaced by a black Wald basket, the grips are now black rubber, I have a SS Klean Kanteen, a Sunshine cylindrical saddlebag for my tools and pump, and a new, large, silver Incredibell. It’s a nice ride, but the frame is a bit too small for me, and while the steel lugged frame is lush for a MTB frame, the handling is a bit squirrely for a town bike. Nevertheless, it’s a fun ride, just hop on and go. I usually just wear street clothes on this bike and a black Bell Metro helmet. (The triple is a necessity in hilly Tallahassee.)

Funny how my perception of what is a proper bicycle has changed almost 180 degrees in the last five years. I still enjoy getting out on weekends on my Mercian Audax bike with my woolies, gloves, and shoes, but it’s increasingly simply about riding w/o all the accoutrements. Bikes as simple transportation. Who would have thought of that?… ;-)


Bike Valets for Inauguration Day

In the New York Times:

Driving doesn’t look like a great option. And while mass transit may be, Washington’s subway and bus system are expected to be packed.

Which, in spite of the expected frigid conditions, makes the idea of biking to President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration all the more attractive. One question, though: Where do you stash your bike?

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association has come up with an answer — bike valets.

With the blessing and support of Washington’s Transportation Department, W.A.B.A. will be operating two valet stations near the National Mall — one to the south (at the Jefferson Memorial) and one to the north (just north of the White House on 16th Street).

Read the full story

Speaking to What Can be Done

We had a lovely ride this morning; temps were comfortable in the mid-50s, the sky was deep blue, the air was calm and crisp. It was one of those days where we didn’t really have anywhere to go, but we were looking for an excuse to ride, so we headed up to the coffee shop to sip some joe and bask in the oddly-temperate weather.

And why do we share our little anecdotes with you, and why would you care?

See, we’re just an average, middle class couple — a soccer mom and an office worker. We’re not athletically remarkable, we’re not particularly adventurous, and some might even say we live a sheltered life. Yet, we’re able to live car-lite in suburban America with three teenagers and a 60-mile round-trip commute. The point being that if we can do it, just about anybody can do it. The highest hurdle is believing you can do it. So by sharing our stories here, and making ourselves seen in the community, we hope to speak to what can be done, and show people that they can do it too.

© 2011 EcoVelo™