For many, reducing car usage can be intimidating, but using more sustainable methods of transportation is a critical part of fighting greenhouse gas emissions. Biking also has other benefits, like being healthier, getting discounts, and rarely having to worry about finding a nice parking space.
In our current game in Northeast Wisconsin, we are lucky to have many passionate players. One of them, Linda S., reached out to us to let us know about her successes and struggles of living a mostly car-free life in Appleton, WI. We asked her a few questions about what it’s like to be a cyclist in her city.
What type of transportation options do you use in your daily life? We bike and walk as much as possible for errands and for recreation. We are retired. When working, my husband biked to work about 8 miles one-way every day for his 5:30 AM nursing shift in all weather, except when it was icy. I would bike to work when I could.
How did you decide to use non-car transportation? I have biked my whole life. I didn’t own a car until I was 25. I think our perspective has been non-car centered; deciding to use a car was out of necessity. Our preference was to not use a car. We use mass transit as much as possible when we travel, but not as much as we’d like to in Appleton. Routes did not start early enough to get us to work on time.
What are some of the benefits to you? Biking and walking are our calming activities. So good for our minds and bodies! We see communities and nature much more deeply by riding and walking.
What’s a challenge of biking and mass transit– and how are you overcoming it? Biking has some dangers – we use routes that have bike lanes, less traffic, trails etc. We have worn helmets since the 1970’s (and have cracked a few over the years). Mass transit is harder to use in Appleton than Madison. I used the bus a lot in Madison in the winter. In Appleton, the buses run less frequently and they use a “spoke.” That means you have to take a bus to the center and wait for another bus to take you put a different (spoke). However, they have expanded their hours and routes that connect different municipalities. It’s improving (basically we need more funding for mass transit!)
What is a cool or unusual resource in your community that others might not know about? Earn-a-Bike uses volunteer mechanics to restore and repair donated bikes. (So, it is “upcycling” bikes that might have been tossed). The bikes are earned by individuals working on the urban farm, the hydroponic gardens, doing work in different parts of the community – an expanding number of projects. Many of the workers are people who are learning work skills, or getting back into the work force, and do not have personal transportation. This provides a means of transportation AND recreation.
Are you a past or current participant in a Cool Choices program? Do you or someone you know have a great sustainability story? We would love to hear from you! Just send us an email.
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