by Shaina Hall
It all started with a curious invention. Originally designed for men, the bicycle, once known as the velocipede, propelled the 19th century into a progressive state. Noted to give women a new sense of freedom, an editorial from 1896 stated: “to women, it was a steed on which they rode into a new world.”
Hundreds of years later, bicycling is a universal instrument for transportation, leisure, and exercise. In celebration of National Bike Month, it’s important to recognize the significance of biking in our communities and offer every effort to maintain this timeless tradition.
Bustling cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco offer little room to ride bikes freely. While there are designated lanes for such instances, the danger produced by those who share the road make bikers less inclined to travel on two wheels. “In California, cyclist deaths make up 4% of all the auto accidents in the state. This is twice the national average, making California the first in the nation in cyclist deaths.”
A clear alternative to this roadblock would be to bike out in public lands. With the COVID-19 pandemic already restricting Californians in their daily lives, green spaces have been a critical aid in mental and physical health and exercise.
However, these same parks, beaches, and trails where we ride our bikes are actually threatened by private corporations that want to exploit them for natural resources. These exploitations, such as drilling and fracking, release planet-warming emissions into the air which further contribute to the climate crisis. Not to mention, drilling and fracking impact public access to green spaces and bad air quality, making it difficult for communities to enjoy the outdoors.
Government regulations are key to protecting our public lands, especially if we want to mitigate the public health and climate crises. That is why legislation such as AB 3030, otherwise known as 30x30 that sets a goal to protect 30% of our lands and 30% waters by 2030, is crucial for our state’s future.
Bicycling is a safe and eco-friendly alternative to travel. It leaves no carbon footprint and opens oneself to a different type of community. The term “it’s as easy as riding a bike,” is attributed to the activity’s sheer simplicity. Los Angeles offers a public utilization of the sport. Metro Bike Share, a branch under the Metro transportation company, is celebrating bike month by offering its 30-Day Pass for just $1 throughout May. Bicycling is an activity for everyone. Children and parents can bond, athletes can race, health seekers can thrive, and the planet can breathe.
Biking and public lands are complementary. Without access to public lands, Californians wouldn’t be able to enjoy the outdoors safely. Defending public lands is vital to make California the best it can be.