Biking for Unity
Biking For Unity to Save the World
An Open Letter To The People In Charge
Students, workers, and people across the world are fighting for their planet. They’re demanding change because we can’t stand to see our planet’s limited resources consumed in waste and greed.
Those who are speaking out, and even those who remain silent, understand we teeter on a precipice. The U.N. says we only have 11 years to make dramatic changes before climate change becomes irreversible. At the same time, environmentalists have been speaking out for fifty or sixty years already about the coming destruction.
We’ve known for over half a century that we need to make changes to protect our planet. Yet we’ve done practically nothing to acknowledge the canaries dying in the coal mine.
Now our entire planet is on the verge of seeing catastrophes we haven’t encountered in over 65 million years. We’re on the verge of mass extinctions. We’re losing species as fast as we can discover them. And most of this destruction comes from the changes happening in our climate.
And while our planet is sick, the people are sick with it. We’re more sedentary, less active, obese and sick. If a person dies, its most likely from heart disease or cancer. We don’t eat right. We don’t exercise. And we fill our homes and environments with the very toxins that are killing us.
The worst part is, we know this. My generation is the first in human history to have the science and information to see the impacts our actions have on the world around us. We’re also the first generation to be able to communicate the need, urgency, and the importance to millions – even billions of people – in days or even minutes. And we’re also the first generation ever to have everything we need to make changes in real-time to fix the plagues we’re facing today.
So if we don’t, the people who follow us will look back. They’ll say, “They knew what was happening. They knew the consequences of not making a change. They knew what they had to do to fix things. So why didn’t they?”
What can we say to that? We have no excuses besides our own apathy.
And that’s unacceptable.
The Change We Propose
We know that nothing will fix the crisis we see overnight. But there is a very simple change we can make within a year. It will have a major impact on both the health of our citizens and the health of our planet as a whole.
Here it is: making biking accessible and practical.
In a minute, I’ll go into depth about why biking. But right now I’ll talk about why it hasn’t happened yet.
Our entire culture as a nation has been designed around cars ever since Ford designed the first model back in 1903. That means our buildings are spaced far apart, parking lots eat up an estimated 3,590 square miles of viable land. To put that into perspective, that’s all of Delaware and Rhode Island, and then some.
For those without a car, getting from place to place takes hours longer than it needs to. This, in turn, adds to the disparity between the wealthy and the poor.
And drivers are more reckless and dangerous than ever. 64% of people who would like to bike don’t because the roads are too dangerous. So we drive, and we and the planet get sicker every day as a result.
But what if we made biking safe and accessible?
Health Benefits of Biking
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends you get 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week. This will help people stay healthy.
But science shows that the healthiest people aren’t the gym rats. They’re people who incorporate activity into their daily lives. They take the stairs. They pace while talking on the phone. They practice habits that make them move a bit more.
Making cities safer for people to bike and encouraging biking as a lifestyle choice will help people become healthier. This will take the stress of our nation’s overburdened and outrageously expensive healthcare system. As a result, it will save billions of dollars.
The people will be healthier, so they’ll be more productive at work, boosting the economy. They’ll live healthier, richer lives.
And with less of a demand for cars, we can start to free up the thousands of miles of parking lots. We can build new homes, new businesses, community gardens, and parks. We can create more beautiful and enriching cities, just by transitioning from cars to biking.
Environmental Benefits of Biking
But on top of creating healthier people, biking as a way of life will help create a healthier planet. In 2016, the U.S. carbon footprint was 5,170 million metric tons. Carbon from road transportation was nearly a quarter of that. (22.9% to be exact.)
What would happen if we cut out that 1,184 million metric tons? Well, we would have cleaner air in our cities. There would be fewer deaths from respiratory disease. We would have fewer toxic chemicals floating throughout our environment.
And we would be one step closer to sustainability. We need to cut our carbon emissions between 40% and 70% by 2050 to have a chance at saving our planet. By switching to bikes, as a nation, we’re already halfway there.
We Challenge You
So what will you do about it? By reading this letter, you have no excuses. You know what’s at stake, and you know what needs to change. Will you be one of the many politicians with too much pride and greed? Will you let automotive and oil lobbyists buy you at the expense of our planet?
Or will you be one of the few? Will people look at you and say, “Thank god we elected you. We knew we could count on you to make the changes needed.” Will you go down in history books as a major figurehead who helped save our planet?
Or will you be bought, and lost to another cheap buck?
Switching to biking won’t take much. We just need infrastructure to make biking safer, and awareness to encourage biking for the health of our planet and our people. Our transportation is one of the few choices we can make that will genuinely help our planet.
This is what we want to see: make a plan, and propose it. Demand cities make a change and outline how, as a town or as a country, we can make it happen. Help us create a healthier world.
We can make choices as an individual. But you can guide the choices of the nation.
Don’t Fight Who’s Idea is Best: Support The Changes We Can Make
We don’t have time anymore to bicker about the finer details. We need to take action, and we need to take action fast. We want to see all of our elected officials promote biking. If they do, please don’t tear each other down. Don’t lose time bickering over finer points of your platforms.
Instead, let’s throw everything at the wall, and see what sticks. If something doesn’t work, we can scale it back later. But we don’t have time anymore to hold off on making changes.
We’re ready. What do you propose?
P.S. Hey reader, we wrote this blog so you can copy and paste it. Send it to your senators, your mayors, your city council authorities, our presidential candidates and leaders demanding the change we want to see in the world. Share it on Facebook and Twitter and email it directly to your representatives. You can learn how to contact them here.
Similarities Between Democrats and Republicans: Let’s Talk About It
Are there any similarities between democrats and republicans? Well, yes. And it’s important we talk about that. Here’s why.
I’m not going to lie. In 2016, I thought Trump was going to be a good president. There was a lot he had going for him that I thought would be valuable in a president.
Three years later and facing another election cycle, I don’t have those same opinions anymore. Why? Well, a couple of reasons.
For starters, I can look at the things that happened throughout Trump’s presidency. I can form opinions on the actions and events that have transpired. I can’t only focus on what could be accomplished. And you know what they say, hindsight is 20/20.
But another major factor is that I’ve changed who I spend my time with. I’m no longer in an echo chamber of Trump supporters. By branching out, I’ve opened myself up to new views and opinions and found many of them to be valid.
I’m glad I got to go through this personal transition. It’s made me more open to new ideas, and I’m better able to defend my beliefs. So as we’re coming to a new election, let’s talk about some dangers of staying in our boxes, and what we can do about it.
The Problems With Echo Chambers
It feels good to be around people we share similarities with. We’re more likely to feel safe and accepted and see ourselves as part of a tribe. And for humans, a sense of belonging is vital to our well-being. No wonder we hate to feel like an outsider.
Yet when we spend all our time with people who share our beliefs, we end up suffering as an individual. This is even worse when we ostracize anyone who thinks differently. On a grand scale, this impacts our society.
If we can’t have our beliefs challenged, how can we justify them? And if we can’t have an open discussion, how can we, as a nation, ever move towards solutions to any problem?
Democrats vs Republicans
We fight more notoriously than rock, paper, and scissors. The bullheaded rope pulling doesn’t get either side anywhere.
But the constant fighting has an even bigger issue. We tend to see people who share political views different from our own as a “less-than” person.
Sometimes we perceive someone with different beliefs as a lower-level human. When that happens, we lose any chance of communicating with them. And it’s our own fault.
No one will respect the ideas of someone else if they feel belittled or patronized in the process. So to open a political conversation, you have to start with respect.
Your Brain on Opposing Beliefs
Listen, I get talking to someone on the opposite side of the political spectrum is scary. We all have a relative who raves, rants and screams about politics and won’t listen to anyone until they’re through. God forbid you to get stuck in an argument like that.
But it goes even deeper than that. When we’re confronted with different views, our brain scans show interesting data.
They light up in the areas associated with our identities and where we sense threats. We honestly feel as though our very definition of ourselves is being challenged.
How can you change someone’s mind if they think you’re challenging their very identity?
Nonetheless, we need to start talking. But note, we don’t need to start convincing.
This year, when politics come up over dinner, we hope you’ll open the discussion. We don’t want you to change anyone’s mind. We want you to help create an environment where people feel safe to share their opinions.
How on earth could you do that?
Here are a few tips.
How to Have an Effective Conversation
When we’re faced with differing opinions, we feel like you’re challenging our identity. So first off, do what you can to make sure your conversational partner feels respected.
Tip 1: Listen to Understand, Not Respond
Most of the time when we argue, we listen to respond. If you’re planning your response while the other person talks, you’re listening to respond.
Instead, let your conversational partner finish their point. Then repeat their ideas to show you’re listening. Most likely, this action will catch them off guard.
When people feel listened to and respected, they’re more likely to reciprocate.
Tip 2: Do an Activity
It’s easier to have hard conversations if there’s something we can do to distract ourselves. So when you want to talk politics, find something else to do too. Go to a bar and play pool. Enjoy the health benefits of a good bike ride. If you feel the need to take the edge off, enjoy an adult beverage, but try to limit it to one.
The point is, find a way to stay busy. Let the conversation have natural lulls and pauses. Incorporating an activity makes this easier.
Tip 3: Start With the Similarities Between Democrats and Republicans
Tip 4: Remember You Aren’t Trying to Change Minds, But Promote Discussion
Believe it or not, there are a lot of similarities between democrats and republicans. Here are a few of them. At the very least, there are some political topics where we already share similar footing.
Both democrats and republicans are worried about the skyrocketing costs of healthcare. They’re also worried about the stress on our social security system.
Try starting your conversation with, “What do you think would be a way to fix the costs of high healthcare?” Then hear your conversational partner out. Pick some points you agree on, and share your thoughts.
By starting on similar ground, you’re more likely to have a friendly, open conversation.
Of course, you want to get someone else to share your beliefs. That’s human nature. But remember they share the same desire. When you talk politics, don’t try to change their opinion.
Try to understand where they’re coming from. This will make you more informed about your own opinions, and it will open more space where we can share our ideas.
There Are More Similarities Between Democrats and Republicans Than You’d Think
As the elections approach, remember that alienating the other party helps no one. Instead, focus on doing what you can to open the political discussion.
You won’t change minds overnight. But you will help to create a world where we can safely share opinions and ideas to find solutions to help us all.
Our goal is not to convince someone to share our beliefs. Instead, we want to come to understand and respect those who believe differently.