Bike to the Zoo!

When I moved to El Paso I decided I really wanted to practice what I preach and push myself to do one more thing to help the environment.  I want to commit to ride my bike to work at least one day a week.

I made my first commute on Sunday July 24, 2011!  It is about a 20 mile round trip, with the first 10 to the zoo mostly downhill and the second 10 back uphill.  That works out good as I don’t want to be too exhausted by the time I get to work.  I live on the West side of El Paso, and therefore have to cross I-10 and go through downtown to arrive at the zoo.  I have chosen Sundays as my bike commute day for one reason: lower traffic.  The first commute was really awesome in the morning.  It was cool, hardly any traffic and relatively peaceful.  The way home was hotter, uphill and exhausting!! I stopped and got a diet coke and chocolate bar halfway home to cheer myself up.  🙂

On my way home.  In the distance is downtown.  I just pedaled slowly up this climb and turned the other way (next picture) to see it is not over yet.  Luckily there is a hospital right where I am standing. 

Continuing my uphill climb home. 

One gallon of gas when used as fuel produces about 19.4 pounds of Carbon Dioxide.  So if I estimate my car takes 0.85 gallons of gas for my daily commute:

Carbon Dioxide savings: 19.4 (pounds of CO2) x 0.85gallons of gas = 16.49 pounds of carbon dioxide saved x 4 weeks = 65.96 pounds of CO2 per week saved or 791.51 pounds of CO2 saved per year!
Money savings:  at $3.50per gallon x 0.85 gallons = $2.975/day x 4 (number of times I will do it a month) = $11.90/month or $142.80 per year of savings! 

They say that riding your bike everyday rather than once a week is better for you as a person.  Their argument is, it is easier to just get in a habit and the hills don’t even bother you anymore.  I am not sure how I feel about this as my first day was HARD!

Here is some more interesting info to inspire you to get out and ride your bike or walk:
– motor vehicle emissions are responsible for 31 % of total carbon dioxide, 81% of carbon monoxide and 49% of nitrogen oxides released in the U.S.
– short car trips (less than 5 miles) are much more polluting than longer trips on a per-mile basis 60% of emissions is released during the first few minutes of operating a vehicle.
– a 130 pound cyclist burns 402 calories while pedaling 14mph in one hour.
– a 180 pound cyclist burns 540 calories while pedaling 14mph in one hour.

The El Paso city voted 7-1 to ticket all drivers who crowd out walkers, runners, cyclists and people using wheelchairs just recently.  Basically, a car HAS to move over into another lane if you are riding on the shoulder.  I honked my cute horn at several cars that did not obey this law.  Maybe I should start remembering license plate numbers!  Although, several cars did obey and moved over.  The overall problem is speed though.  If they would just slow down I would feel a lot safer.  My dream: an entire bike lane or a separate bike trail would be AMAZING .   If you would like to read about El Paso cyclists responding to the bike ordinance click here.  Or to read about the local bicycle groups check out these organizations:  El Paso Bicycle ClubBorderland Mountain Bike Association (I ride a mountain bike for my commute) and GeoBetty (a great resource for hiking and biking trails). 

All in all, I have an opportunity to make a personal small difference and bike to work at least one time a week.  It is something small and satisfying.  “Do a little, change a lot.”  Also – if I am too exhausted the buses in El Paso are completely run on Biodiesel and all have bike racks!  Way to go SunMetro!

A good idea for a post bike meal!  A semi home made pizza.  You can buy 20 balls of frozen pizza dough from sam’s club for $15.  The dough is great to roll out and make pizza, breads, fried dough, etc.


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One Response to Bike to the Zoo!

  1. Amber says:

    Lily has enjoyed looking at your zoo pictures this morning! How is the bike-to-work thing going? That hill looks intense. I think we are going to hit up Drug Emporium later and try your cleaner recipe. We try to use as few chemicals around the house as possible, but potty training has made it a necessary evil. Well, in my mind, at least. Anyway, maybe we can use this an an alternative to the Clorox I've been spraying like crazy. As for fragrances, you are so right. I wonder how many people think about the air fresheners, plug ins, and candles they use to "freshen" their homes & what sort of things they are actually releasing and therefore breathing in when they do.

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