By Chamonix Larsen, Guest Blogger
DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in our community.
Six-hundred-twenty square feet, two people, one dog, a decent view, and a very specific place for everything else. That was my life for five years, living downtown in a small loft. I have moved on to a (slightly) bigger place, added another dog and two kids (need: second bathroom). I know honing some organizational skills has paid off when I look at my sons’ Lego collection (organized by part, and if I had a few more hours, by color as well). There is something quite wonderful about having things right where you need them, when you need them… and nothing more to worry about.
Now you know my secret, I am an organizational obsessive. I constantly look for things to organize and get rid of. If it is dusty, we probably aren’t using it, and it should go. (Watch out dusty dog). The garage, I had to be told, is off limits, and is where my tinkering husband keeps his stash. I still wander in there just to take inventory, and then, in my passive-aggressive-Utah-mom way, tell him we should get rid of it all anyway. It is a constant itch.
This may seem as if it has nothing to do with air quality or bike month, but for me, there is a very direct connection. Aside from holding my husband’s stash of tools and sports equipment, our garage is also home to winter tires, oil, cleaner, old bikes, new bikes, bike pumps, bike tubes, basically a bunch of byproducts of our need to get from A-to-B. I don’t really want all this stuff. I just want to get around and enjoy the ride.
Tada! GREENbike (aka bikes I DO NOT store in my garage) seemed to come down from the sun god of organization, and I am beginning to partake. You can imagine my excitement about all the possible decluttering from this bike share program. But decluttering isn’t the only benefit to a bike share. I won’t have to lug a bike through the transit system; the bike is now part of the system. I can be lazy about it and it still works. I also won’t have to pay the meter, circle the block, or wonder what the heck I did with that stupid validation ticket.
And I won’t have to start an engine. No, I won’t have to start the engine. The volatile organic compounds (VOCs) emitted when your engine is cold and you start the car comprise the majority of the total VOC trip emissions. Avoiding the start altogether is a big deal, and a big solution to our air quality problem.
Luckily bike share is not exclusive to the Salt Lake downtown area. There are other communities with bike share in Utah. Look no further than Utah State Aggie Blue Bikes. The Logan-based school’s bike share makes it so when my son heads off to the grand higher education experience, he can get around on a bike that I don’t have to see in my garage all summer while he’s an intern at NASA (I think I have reasonable expectations, after all he’s only 5). Any student on campus can check out the bike for months at a time, and use it wherever he or she wants to go. USU has installed bike repair stations, helps students fix and replace tubes, and helps them vet the success of a relationship with a small fleet of reservable tandems. It seems like a pretty good compatibility test: a little team work, a balancing act, and a lot of fun. Not to mention gearing up the next generation of college grads entering the workforce for a clean-air lifestyle.
So if it is Aggie Blue, GREENbike green, or whatever color that dusty old one is in my garage, getting on a bike this May is a great way to travel emission-free. Ride to get a few groceries, ride to avoid parking at the next Michael Franti concert (because there’s always one coming up), and ride to clean up the air.
You can find more information on GREENbike or Aggie Blue by visiting their websites. Tell us about your experience with bike share.
Chamonix Larsen was appointed the State of Utah Resource Stewardship Coordinator in Fall 2014. Her role is to help state entities share best practices that improve the State’s positive impact on resources, with a specific focus on practices that affect the air shed in Utah.