EVERYDAY COMBATTING CLIMATE CHANGE
The problem of climate change is enormous and you probably think that it’s outside your power to do anything about curbing its progression. Like you, I have only a faint idea how in my personal life I am contributing to the problem.
We joke about our winters getting warmer, we don’t mind that even the summers are hot and drier than usual. Yeah, let Canada become subtropical, that would be a bonus, right? We wouldn’t have to seek the yearly trips to the caribbean islands or Mexico to survive the winters here. Great.
This year the Nay Sayers seem louder than before: even the pope has an opinion about climate change. I wonder what he could do in his daily life? Would he possibly order the priests, cardinals, and bishops out of their rich digs into smaller, existing homes? Would they reduce greenhouse gasses by shutting of the A/C and set the thermostat a few degrees colder in winter? Maybe we could come up with ideas for them, as well as for ourselves…
This spring, as soon as it was warm enough for my hands to grab the handlebars of my bicycle, I started riding my bike to work. I have a touch or arthritis in my hands and feet, so any temperature below 15 usually hurts me. But June was already sunny and warm.
My home is a 15 minute ride away from the office. My ride takes me for a short stretch on a two lane street, with cars going by me in two directions on Rose Aveenue. It crosses two arteries leading to the main drag, Richter and Pandosy. When I arrive at the hospital, I use the lakeside, multi-use corridor of Abbott Street, through the beautiful lakeshore neighbourhood. This is the most enjoyable part of my daily exercise. Flowers and their scents are everywhere while I move leisurely in the shade of the mature trees. At the end of the swanky lane, I cross Harvey Ave with the traffic lights, and after a 100 yards/meters along the side walk, I have arrived.
Motorbike riders also understand the feel of the outside, the smells, the changes in temperature, the wind, it makes one feel more alive, more one with the air and the environment. I arrive alert and awake, having enjoyed the physicality of the brief trip. I can recommend it wholeheartedly to anybody.
All sensations in the city are more noticeable to bikers. The asphalt roads that are exposed to the sun are much hotter, I would guess easily ten degrees hotter than when I am riding under trees in their shade. That makes me think that we should plant more trees along roads and throughout the city. Not only cause trees the temperature to drop in the summer, but the trees would generate more oxygen and take out carbon from the air. Beside, they are living things and are very interesting, always changing with the seasons.
When a car passes me on the street, I notice that the vehicle generates its own heat and intensifies the radiation towards me, making my immediate environment a few degrees hotter. Especially darker coloured cars seem to soak up the heat.
Why would anyone want a black car, knowing this? The driver would have to crank the A/C up to make the inside bearable, not only after it sat parked somewhere and you burn your buns getting in, but also while driving does it soak up the heat. It burns extra gas, as everybody knows. So, get rid of black cars, I say, and choose white and silver cars.
Then there are the car drivers that apparently have never rode a bike. They swerve to pass me, as if I am three feet wide, or will suddenly fall off my bike. Some car drivers even cross the median all the way over to the opposite lane, just to get by me. Of course I could attach a sign to my back: BORN DUTCH ON A BIKE, announcing I am a really competent rider, so they can trust that I am not going to throw myself against their door and scratch up their precious vehicle. They are possibly confused and consider me traffic, like a car. In reality, I only need a foot or so of your lane. If you look closely, you can see that I am a mature woman, and not an unpredictably swerving drug courier.
Yes, there are very polite and sweet people in cars who stop for me while I am standing at the right side of the road (in my bike place, even if there is no bike lane), waiting to cross the road. They are apparently not quite sure what I am: a pedestrian or traffic?
Thank you, I do appreciate you, especially because you don’t have to stop for me; I am traffic, like a car, but smaller.
Did I mention I am saving a significant amount of money by parking my car for these summer months, even my small, silver compact car? I guess in total at least $300 in gas.
I did not contribute to the carbon in the air and hotter temperatures in the street. I exercised my legs, my stomach muscles, and maintained, or even improved my balance. I feel better overall and in a better mood on arrival. I do not spend more time on the road, I dare say, less time than had I taken the car.
What would Kelowna look like, if half of the residents in the inner centre, let’s say a circle within the perimeters of Lakeview Heights, Glenmore Road, Rutland Road, and K.L.O. all went to work by bike? I bet the city would be cooler in more than one way.