By Kate Collins
Students surrounded by bikes tabled outside Reamer Campus Center throughout last week.
Their goal was to promote the annual Bike to Work or School Week, which recruited people to leave their car keys at home and choose a bike to get around.
E-mails circulated encouraging students and faculty to pick up their bikes and ride. Many were also encouraged to sign up for regional competitions.
The actual Bike to Work or School Day was last Friday. The Wellness Program provided breakfast, showers, bike racks and locker facilities for those who rode bikes.
In 2010, each American contributed an average of 17.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide and countless other harmful pollutants to the atmosphere. Cars are one of the largest contributors of these types of pollution.
According to Andrew Parnes ’17, there has been some criticism of Bike to Work or School Week.
Some believe that biking for one day or just one week makes no measurable environmental difference.
He argued, “The point of the week is not about making an immediate and noticeable difference. It’s about awareness. Such a large, national campaign raises awareness and helps to slowly shift our cultural paradigm that in order to be a functioning American, you absolutely need a car.”
The environmental benefits are of equal value to improvements in health, which can be seen in those who choose to cycle.
Additionally, the ease of biking makes it ideal for young and old alike.
When asked about the amount of participants in this year’s Bike to Work or School Week, Parnes stated that there was more support than he expected. He said, “This year, Bikeatoga, a cycling advocacy group based in Saratoga, and the Capital District Transportation Committee have put together the Capital Region Bike to Work Day Challenge.”
Cyclists can register to ride for a team, and there are awards for the teams with the most riders and longest total distance ridden. There are currently about 20 riders registered on the Union team, many of whom are professors.
If you missed Bike to Work or School Week and are interested in cycling, there is a newly resurrected cycling club, which organizes rides for anyone in the area.