My turn to ride my bike | SierraSun.com

My turn to ride my bike

Dan Warren

I would like to think that most people understand that we are teaching our children and ourselves, or at least I hope we are, that we need to respect our environment and we should do so in many different ways. Changing our habits is the number-one way to achieve this and one way is by driving less. Commuting to town from Glenshire is a great way to start. Problem is that Glenshire Drive is, well, lets just say that I do on occasion ride Glenshire Drive and the best way I could sum it up is that I might as well try to ride my bike through Fallujah wearing a Stars and Stripes jersey during an Al Qaeda rally. Yup, having a Ford Excessive with a Save Martis Valley or Keep Tahoe Blue bumper sticker running you down at 65 mph makes you feel like you are not welcome. So we teach that we are having a negative impact on the environment but we dont put in place those things that are needed to help us reduce our impact. It is kind of like asking someone to give you a glass of water without giving them the glass.Would people actually ride the path? If the weather allows it I would hope so. When I was in middle school my friends and I would ride about 3.5 miles to school everyday. College: It was a 20-mile ride each way. During the last 10 years I would ride 10 miles each way to work and back averaging about 135 days of cyclo-commuting a year. I have even been known to ride to Reno and back to run light errands. Ive met a lot of people who use the Tahoe City bike paths to commute during the summer months, so we already have a test case that implicates that it would be used. Is a paved bike path a polluter? Ive spent the last six years designing, constructing and maintaining mountain bike and hiking trails. Depending upon use you will usually see an annual minimum of four times more sediment runoff from a dirt trail over a paved trail. Dirt trails are not maintenance-free. In fact, depending upon soil types and amount of usage, they can involve more maintenance than a paved trail. You can also factor in the removing of a motorized vehicle from the roads and the infrastructure involved in maintaining said vehicle and its needs.How do we pay for this trail? There are a lot of different ways. The state government and most counties, such as Placer County, have clean air grants that can apply. Or we can ask some of the golf course developers around if they can donate a couple of miles of the hundreds of miles of cart paths that they are building to apply to the trail. Maybe instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Tsunami research in Lake Tahoe we put that money to something that will benefit society? Or wouldnt it be nice if the people who drive would want to give a few dollars to get a few of the other porcine SUVs off of the road and clean up our air. Is the pavement coming? Yes it is, but if the smog gets thick enough maybe we will not be able to see it. Yes, pavement to put in more car lanes, more roads and infrastructure to provide for the increasing number of corpulent vehicles that populate our roads. But I need a super-sized Chevy to carry my 1.3 kids and my eight dogs, tow my 40-foot travel trailer with my six motorcycles, my three jet skis, my six snowmobiles, my 25-foot wakeboarding boat … I hope I dont need to comment on this issue.But if I ride my bike I will be late getting to the gym to ride a stationary bike. Yes, I have heard this one more than once. Studies have shown that 75 percent of domestic auto trips are unnecessary and Americans have the largest vehicles that use more fuel than any other country. We also drive more than twice as many miles annually than in any other country. Yes, I have a car and I drive it when it is appropriate, but whenever possible I think and plan to use alternative means of transportation. The information is out there for those willing to learn. We all share the air and the roads and the changes need to come from each of us as individuals to make a difference as a collective. Whether you walk, ride, reduce or downsize, you are showing that you care for more than just yourself. We should support anyone or any group that is willing to help us make the changes, for we will all benefit in the end. Dan Warren is an enthusiastic cyclist and was a candidate for the U.S. Congress Fourth District this past election. He has lived in Truckee for 27 years.