On Friday, Cyclists en route from San Francisco to Washington D.C. hope to redefine “environmentalism” as a human problem as they ride into Provo as part of Bike-Aid 1996.
These riders are traversing the United States in an effort to raise awareness of local and global environmental problems and talk to thousands of Americans about what it means to be an environmentalist.
Cyclists will challenge their host communities to consider how future generations can be assured their basic rights to clean air, water and healthy food. Bike-Aiders will directly learn about local issues and generate discussions on possible solutions. The cyclists also help to create a network among communities facing similar issues by sharing information and resources in neighboring towns and collaborating with communities overseas.
Bike-Aiders recognize the inextricable link between human culture and the environment. Riders work with local environmental organizations, church groups and citizen activities on community service projects which emphasize sustainable practices in agriculture, technology, consumerism and of course, transportation.
Bike-Aid participants, ranging in age from 16 to 58 and hailing from Canada, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Uganda and 17 states within the United States, demonstrate the international cooperation that environmental problems demand.
Since 1986, more than 750 Bike-Aid riders have raised over $1,100,000 toward education on global development issues and direct support of over 200 sustainable community development projects.
In 1995, Bike-Aid financially supported local and global programs such as the Halifax Environmental Loss Prevention (HELP) project in North Carolina and the Bicycles for Women program in Mozambique, Africa.
The HELP project of the Concerned Citizens of the Tillery is the only project in the predominantly African-American community that is addressing environmental degradation. HELP has been instrumental in getting local ordinances passed to control regional corporate livestock operations whose wastes were contaminating the entire community’s groundwater. This grant supported community education projects responding to environmental degradation and racism.
In a country plagued by drought and civil wars, transportation can be especially difficult, which is where the Bicycles for Women comes into play. The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy and Pedals for Progress are working with the Mozambican association of Rural Women (AMRU) to provide bicycles to 1,050 Mozambican women by September. Rural bike shops will guarantee the sustainability of the project as well as provide employment opportunities for members of the AMRU. A grant from Bike-Aid help support the establishment of four rural bike shops.
While raising awareness of environmental issues throughout the United States, cyclists demonstrate that everyone can participate in the environmental movement. Environmentalism in the 21st Century demands sustainable development.
The five routes: from Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Montreal and Chapel Hill, N.C. will carry their message to Washington D.C. on Aug. 21, where they will celebrate and share their experiences with the press and elected legislative representatives.