I’ve been writing over the last couple days about the beauty, utility and timeliness of bicycles. As the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico makes clear, Americans need to start using less petroleum. Riding bicycles instead of driving cars is a great way to reduce our oil consumption, making for cleaner air, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lowered demand of offshore oil, and cutting health care costs with healthier bodies to boot.
The obstacle that needs to be overcome: Riding a bicycle takes work. Many Americans would prefer just to sit down and steer, hardly moving a muscle in their bodies.
One solution for overcoming this obstacle: Bicycle Benefits. Bicycle Benefits is a program that encourages bicycling as a means of transportation and promotes local businesses at the same time. To join, you go to a local shop that participates in the Bicycle Benefits program, and buy a Bicycle Benefits sticker for $5, and put it on your bicycle helmet. To enjoy benefits of your membership, you ride your bike to local participating businesses, and bring your bike helmet up to the counter, showing the sticker. They then give you a discount, as a reward for riding your bicycle safely. Before long, you get that $5 right back.
In my community, there are about 25 businesses that participate in the Bicycle Benefits program. When I bike, I get hungry, and so the participation of a bakery, an ice-cream shop, and a food co-op stand out the most, though a local, independent book store also grabs my attention.
Seach the Bicycle Benefits web site to see if your community is taking part. If there isn’t a Bicycle Benefits network set up yet, maybe you can be the one to get it started… and be responsible for reducing the flow of cash into the bank accounts of big oil companies like BP.