February 22, 2008
Putting mettle to the pedal
~ written by Doug Morgan
The Dispatch says it's 29 degrees this morning as I suit up to bicycle from my home in the north end of Columbus to my office at Calfee Halter & Griswold on Capitol Square... 29 degrees will feel like a heat wave compared to the 6 degrees and -10 degree wind-chill I was biking in last week.
I've been bicycling the 20-mile round trip five days a week, 12 months a year for six years, ever since I heard Dr. Bob Murray at Nationwide Children's describe the childhood obesity epidemic; that "25 percent of the children in Franklin County are clinically obese and we're seeing increasing incidence of high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes in eight and nine-year-olds." When my 16 year-old daughter totaled my car, the next month I bought a bike and started biking to work. I don't intend ever to own another car.
I have come to believe that we will never become healthy by exercising or dieting. We've been doing that for 40 years and it hasn't made a dent in the problem — only created two multi-billion dollar industries. The answer lies in building activity back into our everyday lives. Absent a return to an agrarian society, the only way to do this is to walk or bike to work, school, the store, etc. They do this in Europe and some cities in the U.S. and the people there are fit.
As part of the Mayor's Bicentennial Bikeway Plan, which will improve, expand and connect our bikeway system and make our roads safer for cycling, we are including a bold goal, that by 2012 we will have a ten percent "mode shift" in the way we commute. That is, by 2012 ten percent of our commutes will be by biking, walking or transit. We've dubbed this our "2 by 2012" goal.
You just need to bike, walk or transit to work TWO DAYS per month (two divided by 20 work days equals ten percent) to help us meet this goal. If we can do it we will surpass Portland, Oregon as the greenest transportation city in the U.S. How can you help? By having a safe place for your employees to store their bikes and by having or arranging a place for them to change and shower.
If you really want to encourage your colleagues, adopt the Ecobuck Program which pays an employee $1 for every day they bike, walk or transit to work. Half the employees at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee, that conceived this program, participate. My law firm recently became the first company in Columbus to adopt Ecobucks. Why don't you join us? If we can achieve "2 by 2012" we will be well on our way to solving our environmental and public health problems and begin to reconnect our community. If we can do that, just watch the people, young and old, and new companies, flock to CBus!