Bicycles are good things. I don't think anyone is going to argue with that. Sure, you've got your errant riders here and there, giving one aspect of the sport or another a bad rap, but what sport doesn't? For the most part, bikes are good. Even if you outgrew your last bike at 16, you still had one. You had the freedom and sense of accomplishment that came with it, too. But if you didn't ditch your teenage bike and you're still riding today, there's a strong chance that bicycles and bicycling epitomize a lot of the things you consider virtuous. For a lot of us, bikes impart fond memories filled with healthy living, the outdoors, a bit of challenge and thrill, practicality, maybe even a humbling wreck every now and then. More than just the stuff stories are made of, it's the stuff good souls are made of. As if the bicycle didn't already have enough goodness spinning throughout its iconic place in each of our lives, bicycles are, simply put, one of the surest, smartest, simplest ways to contribute to a more sustainable environment. Now that is a good thing. Ironically, a lot of people who log major miles on the bike log just as many in their cars, and the connections between alternative transportation and the environment are lost somewhere between the sporting life and utilitarianism. Thankfully, the amazing superpowers of the bicycle have not gone unnoticed. But, like so many other just causes in the world of non-profits and environmental coalitions, bicycle advocacy tends to move through Congress and the American mindset about as quickly as molasses on a cold flapjack. We the people can heat it up a bit, but sometimes it takes a bit of for-profit corporate muscle to help get the message to the masses, especially when some big companies are willing to take the reins and lead by example. Funny thing about these companies who are setting precedents for sustainability, there are always more bikes in the parking lot then cars. Clif Bar Inc., Patagonia, Black Diamond, Ben andamp;amp; Jerry's and the New Belgium Brewing Company are just a few companies that come to mind when I think of corporations who are doing their part to minimize their footprint on the planet. And as they extend their effort toward public awareness and education, many times the humble bicycle is the chosen vehicle for the message. From employee incentives to commute by bike to employers providing a free commuter-bike after one year of employment, the responsible ones are beginning to do their part. The beautiful thing about bicycle advocacy is that it gives all of us a chance to do our part in trying to create a more sustainable environment. Even if you only ride your bike for the weekend workout that you dread each and every time, try to think of your bike as more than just a Stairmaster with wheels. Think of it as a symbol of environmental awareness, of responsibility and choice. After all, what's good for your body is good for the planet.Not all of us have the means to green up our lives as much as we really want to and not all companies can match the devotion of today's leaders in environmentally conscious business but, if any person or any business just does their best to keep bicycles close to their heart, that alone will be a step in the right direction. Just think for a moment of all the good things bikes have done for you. Maybe you can return the favor by trying to keep the bicycle closer to heart and a little closer to your daily routine.If you or anyone you know doesn't already own a bicycle, you can purchase the most sensible choice in alternative transportation for less than a month's rent. How and when you decide to ride is up to you but from the first pedal stroke, goodness will emanate. Bicycles really are giving in and of themselves - they do the mind and body good and they will forever contribute to the greater good of our planet.Support Bicycling in the new Federal Transportation BillIf you haven't made a final call to your members of Congress about the importance of including bicycling and walking provisions, now is the time. Mention one or all of these issues.A) Please include the fair share for safety policy language in the Senate bill in the final legislation. This will ensure adequate funding is directed towards improving bicyclist and pedestrian safety.B) Please adopt the House funding level (or closer to it) and policy language for the new Safe Routes to School Program. The Senate bill has $312 million over five years compared to $875 million in the House.C) Please adopt the House funding level (or closer to it) for the Recreational Trails program. The Senate bill has $280 million versus $503 million in the House. For more information on these issues visit www.americabikes.orgCelebrate bicycles and sustainability this weekend The New Belgium Brewing Company is bringing the Tour de Fat to the Truckee River Regional Park on Saturday. For more information go to www.newbelgiumbrewing.com
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