The world is a changing place, and some changes are perhaps not for the better. Global climate change is a looming threat now considered by most to be an unshakable reality, and our ecosystems have been in dire straits for years. In some cities, it even seems now that automobiles have overtaken humans as the dominant species. Traffic-clogged freeways are literal rivers of cars, spewing toxic fumes into the atmosphere and sucking oil out of the planet that may run out at any time.
As tough is it seems to get people motivated enough to band together and push for positive change, some extraordinary folks are making it happen–and the change is as simple as riding a bike.
Buenos Aires native Mati Kalwill has attempted to spark a revolution: to reduce our dependence on automobiles and make cycling the most ubiquitous form of transportation in the world. Cycling activism has been on the rise recently. All over the world, people are pushing pedals as a viable form of transportation, not to mention exercise and fun. Kalwill wants to go one step further.
Bike lanes are becoming prevalent in many major cities, and signs indicating that drivers must share the road are more common than ever. Yet something is still keeping the roads packed with growling engines. What makes driving so preferable over riding a bike? Baking under the sun in gridlocked traffic, frantically searching for parking spaces, paying premium rates on insurance, setting fire to one’s bank account at every visit to the gas station…driving a car almost seems more like slavery than freedom these days.
Cyclists all over the world are taking up with Kalwill’s vision, promoting cycling in their own towns any way they can. The movement is still relatively young, having spring-boarded at the recent UN sponsored Rio+20 conference on sustainable development which was, according to many, a disappointing spectacle. Not much was being accomplished and many seemed hesitant to get on board for any real change toward sustainability. Kalwill and his optimistic spirit of promoting cycling all over the world were perhaps the most inspiring of any movements promoted at the conferences.
Bikestorming is essentially a worldwide grassroots movement, encouraging people to promote cycling in and around their homes by any possible means. Local bicycle coalitions promote safe riding, advocacy for cyclists’ rights on the road, and open dialog with legislators to improve cycling infrastructure–safe bike lanes, available bike parking, and even bike rental programs. Many have set up non-profit bicycle co-ops that offer inexpensive bikes and parts, a place to freely work on repairs, and courses on bicycle maintenance and safety. Click here for more information on Bikestorming and related programs.
This will be the second time in recent history that such a bike boom has occurred. This time around, thousands of kids and young adults are taking flashy bikes out as their main source of transportation. It can only be hoped that their love of the pedal doesn’t spin out before the Bikestorming movement gets up to speed. Kalwill envisions a happier healthier world where getting around means riding, not driving, and his vision has just begun to take shape.