This is a guest blog by Car-less Long Island board member Sharon Stanley.
On Saturday, May 7, 2016, I hopped on my bicycle for the first time in at least 15 years and joined Car-Less LI on their first annual, “Bike to Work Parade and Fashion Parade.” We had friends in suits, medical gear, dresses and other forms of fun garb. It was a marvelous experience and it encouraged me to think about using my bicycle for fun and business. It also reminded me of the serious problems with bicycle and pedestrian safety, and the need for better public transportation options on Long Island. More importantly, the need to reduce driving time will reduce carbon emissions and take a small step towards helping in the fight to stop climate change.
This summer my family and I traveled to the Netherlands and Scandinavian countries for the first time. I was intrigued by the bicycle culture in Amsterdam. Here was a living and breathing bike to work parade. Bicycles were everywhere and people were in suits, dresses and pumps and here I was seeing a living representation of an everyday “bicycle parade.” Everywhere we went, bicyclists were zooming by. Bicycles were parked everywhere.
The prevailing bicycle culture inspired me to share my photos and experience with Car-less LI.
Of course, everywhere you go there is theft and Amsterdam was no different. When someone stole a bicycle here, they might use it for a small distance and then toss it away into the canal. Sadly, Amsterdam needs a mechanism to retrieve these stolen bicycles from the canals. A large crane attached to a canal boat is used to pick up all of the water logged bicycles and place them in this accompanying canal boat.
I wish I had gotten photos of some of the different bicyclists and their professional garb. But everywhere we went, cyclists were zooming past us. Experiencing a “living” bike to work parade was insightful. The Scandinavian and Netherlands countries have a very strong bicycle culture, in addition to a commitment to environmental concerns. People outfitted their bicycles with wooden boxes and milk crates in order to carry any needed supplies and run every day errands. Parents had wooden wagons with large sides that provided safe shelter for small children attached to the front and the back of the bicycles. We even saw groups of children on class trips, in a wagon that seats 6 attached to the back of bicycles. Not only were these groups having fun, the fresh air and exercise is a healthy lifestyle to live by. I came back home inspired to join the “Car-less LI” group in their quest to develop a better and safer bicycle culture on Long Island.