Guest column: Bikes are a pollution-free transportation solution for Lake Tahoe

Guest Column
A bicyclist passes over an environmentally friendly bridge included in a one-mile segment of bike path that was dedicated Thursday.
Adam Jensen / Tribune File Photo

Bicycles are a kind of miracle. One of the most efficient machines ever designed, they run on burritos as fuel, produce no pollution, make people healthier when they ride on them, and they help fight traffic. But had you considered how getting more people to choose to ride a bike instead of driving their car can help protect Lake Tahoe?

The most recent State of the Lake report by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center shows that we’re still fighting hard in a year-to-year struggle to protect the lake and restore its famous clarity. Roads and other paved surfaces are some of the most significant sources of pollution that degrades lake clarity, and auto traffic and its pollution only add to the problems.

That’s why we’re so excited about the continued improvements at Tahoe that make it safer and easier than ever to ride a bike as a fun and healthy way to get around our communities. Every local jurisdiction continues to add new bike paths and bike lanes, and our regional and area plans call for making our communities easier and safer get around on bike and on foot. We also seem to see more and more residents and visitors choosing bikes to get to work, to school or to recreation destinations.

At a time when so many of us have grappled with traffic jams and have concerns about the long-term health of Lake Tahoe, we encourage everyone who is already biking around to keep it up and ride more.

If you’re not biking already, give it a try and find out how much fun you’re missing out on. Not only are there more and more bike trails — there are more ways to get you behind the handlebars today.

Tahoe now has two bike share programs being tested out, each exploring the viability of bikes as a low-cost means to better connect transit to people’s everyday lives, and to allow people to make short, spur-of-the-moment trips by bike instead of car.

The first connects the town of Truckee to the Truckee Tahoe Airport, and features docked bicycles provided through a partnership with Zagster. On the other side of the lake, the League to Save Lake Tahoe recently collaborated with LimeBike to bring a dock-less bike share to South Tahoe for a three-month pilot program. We encourage people to try out both pilots and provide feedback on how they are working to the bike share companies.

These new bike sharing programs are just one of a growing number of bike riding options. For those who want plan an all-day outing by bike, there are bike shops throughout the Tahoe-Truckee region that are ready to help, with helmets and rental bikes of all sizes (and with gears to tackle Tahoe’s hills) so that the whole family can ride.

We can all agree that we want to protect Lake Tahoe, and fortunately this is an exciting time when we’re seeing innovative experiments emerge that help.

Whether you test out bike share options, rent a bike from a local shop for the weekend, or dust off the aging cruiser in your garage, every time one of us mounts the steel horse we’re doing more with our Tahoe adventure, and putting truth to the saying “be part of the solution.”

The following signed on to this guest column: Rebecca Bryson, co-chair of Community Mobility Group; Curtis Fong vice president of Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition; Jesse Patterson, deputy director of League to Save Lake Tahoe; Steve Teshara, chair of South Shore Transportation Management Association; Heidi Hill Drum, executive director of Tahoe Prosperity Center; and Jaime Wright, executive director of Truckee North Tahoe Transportation Management Association.

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