Without green transport, Earth Day could be a wash
Some say Earth Day traffic makes the whole event self-defeating.
“There’s too much fucking traffic at Earth Day,” muttered Noah Chubb-Silverman, co-founder and executive director of the Reno Bike Project. “It’s ironic, to say the least. I mean, it’s ridiculous.”
Hundreds of booth vendors and tens of thousands of visitors are expected at Idlewild Park on April 26, and many who attended in years past opted to drive themselves to the event. Few things are greener than a two-wheeler, though, which is why new bike initiatives keep rolling in.
Apart from the bike valet, a popular standby that’s exactly what it sounds like, Reno Earth Day will also feature a bike pool with a handful of bicycles anyone can borrow, plus structured rides to the park through the new Many Spokes for Many Folks program.
“We don’t want to defeat the purpose of having an Earth Day event by having too much idling at Idlewild,” said a punny Anastacia Sullivan, who’s taken charge of organizing the massive gathering.
Julie Hunter, a senior specialist with Washoe County’s air quality management division, has spent the last year-and-a-half pushing parents to stop idling their cars outside school campuses around town (“No idle zone,” Nov. 7, 2013 RN&R). She’ll also lead one leg of Many Spokes for Many Folks, which came about last year.
“There’s a way for us to measure pollution that’s expelled from the vehicles during travel and idling time,” she said. “It’s so packed now, and there are lots of cars that idle up and down and around the corner waiting for parking and whatnot. Even if you’re idling, that’s creating pollution. … So it’s going to reduce traffic congestion and other [pollution] factors if people just rode their bikes to Earth Day.”
Human health, environmental stewardship and simple thriftiness are key, she explained.
“It’s bad for the health of anybody there, especially sensitive people, which are the elderly and younger children,” Hunter said of idling and road pollution.
“It’s also bad for our environment, as it’s really seeping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is the greenhouse gas that’s responsible for climate change. And it also wastes money.”
The group bike rides’ “spokes” loosely represent each quadrant of the Reno/Sparks area, with guided treks to Idlewild beginning at the Bonanza in Northeast Reno, the Sparks Marina to the east, Longley Lane to the south and the Patagonia Outlet to the west. Details will go online before Earth Day, and riders can join at closer points along the way, if they wish.
The bike pool that day will be pretty small, Chubb-Silverman said, “but it’ll set some precedent for how people can approach Earth Day and the inevitable, huge traffic mess that comes with Earth Day.”