Sustainable Cycles, South of the Border
You bike toured for three months through Mexico and the US to spread the word of Sustainable Cycles. Can you tell us a little bit about the organization and the goal of the journey?
Sustainable Cycles links bicycle education and menstrual health as tools for social change. We organize bicycle rides to relevant events and organize lead-up events en route to exhibit reusable menstrual products. This journey ended at the 40th Society for Menstrual Cycle Research Conference in Kennesaw, Georgia with the goal to strengthen health and transportation champions. We believe that the public roadway AND menstrual products should be safe for cyclists of all body types.
Were there any challenges you faced being a solo female bike tourer? Was there any unexpected hospitality?
The hardest part of biking through Mexico solo was telling my dad I was biking through Mexico solo. Even with long desolate stretches in hot desert, the challenges I faced were more psychological than physical. I was made aware of my gender with catcalls in most cities. It is unfortunate that female-bodied people fall subject to a particular harassment in the public roadway, but it wasn’t anything I hadn’t experienced riding around Los Angeles. For the vast majority, I found incredible hospitality throughout the journey. I would roll into a small town, inquire about a safe place to sleep, and be welcomed into a home. There is something basic about bike touring that encourages human connection between strangers. In simply seeking food, water, and shelter, I found so much kindness!
What are your plans for the future?
More bike rides! And more collaboration with the many incredible organizations and companies working toward sustainability, menstrual health, and active transportation. We are fortunate to have a strong bicycle culture in Los Angeles, but safe space in the road is always a struggle to secure. We will continue to promote safe infrastructure and healthy consumer choices. Look out for our 2019 tour to the next menstrual cycle conference.
(Below are some watercolors from Rachel’s ride diary…)
ELEVATED BIKE PATH IN LOS ANGLES?
Elevated cycle path. No, it’s not like a spiritually aware bike path. It’s a bike path that is safer, cleaner, and progressive. A few of the biggest dangers of riding a bicycle in the city are traffic and subsequently collisions with motorists, as well as the debris on the road. Fortunately, elevated bike lanes solve both of those by separating bicycle traffic from motorized traffic.
You might be picturing some farfetched bicycle rainbow, arching it’s way from the Santa Monica Pier to Downtown Los Angeles. While it’s a romantic image, it’s not far off. The elevated bike paths that Santa Monica, and hopefully all of Los Angeles, will adopt have already been done. Places like Melbourne, Copenhagen, and China have already implemented some form of separated bicycle path to increase safety of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as decrease traffic for motorists.
It’s official, our bid to have the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles has been accepted. Let’s get an initiative drafted and executed so that by the time our city takes the world stage we will be the progressive environmental leader we strive to be.
PEDAL POWERED BY THE SUN
Santa Monica has made great strides in promoting bike safety over the past five years. “Sharrows” and bicycle detection systems at stop lights have helped young commuters safely get to school in the morning and professionals coast home at the end of the work day.
So what’s next? We’d like to see Samo take steps to increase the safety of biking at night. Lights and reflectors help cyclists be seen, but can be forgotten at home or run out of batteries. You know what doesn’t run out of batteries? The sun. (At least for now).
Parts of Poland, and recently the United States, have begun to implement glow in the dark bike lanes that are powered entirely by the sun. Synthetic particles called Luminiphores (Wiki article for all the scientifically-inclined out there), are mixed into the asphalt and absorb the sun’s energy throughout the day. When the sun sets, the particles let off a light blue glow, shining the way for cyclists and clearly marking the bike path to motorists.
Although the technology is new, with a little research and testing we could keep cyclists and pedestrians significantly safer when traveling at night. This will allow commuters to more confidently ditch their cars for the greener and healthier option of riding their bikes, knowing they can safely get home after dark!
Check out a video of the lanes in action and brush up on your Polish below: