Thursday, November 4, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I had the pleasure of attending a zoo conference in Houston last week. And, yes, of course I took the bus to the airport! The conference had many amazing sessions including one on communicating about climate change. Check out Monterrey Bay Aquarium’s video.
I felt encouraged that our zoo is working to make a positive difference in support of the environment and all of its inhabitants. I’m proud of everything we are doing to reduce our impact and hope that I am somehow able to persuade others to do their part as individuals as well. This year, I’m focusing on alternative transportation. If everyone in our employee base took alternative transportation for one month we would offset our carbon output by approximately 80 metric tons! Even if we all just did it for one day, it would be a savings of more than 2 metric tons of carbon. Together, this makes a big difference. (These were figured using averages from the federal highway administration.)
I had a beautiful ride in this morning. It’s gotten much cooler and I have been leaving a bit before sunrise. It’s nice to see the sun coming up and get some exercise before I get into work. For me this is just good time management. You have to commute anyway – might as well turn it into a workout! I’ll ride to the 72X (or 58X, depending on which one comes first) and then take that to the Ward Road Park and Ride on the way home today. This takes out some of the tough hills on the way home, which is helpful to save some energy for my volleyball matches tonight.
I love the bike/bus combo. It is truly liberating. I can get anywhere in this city with my bike and the bus. Here’s a summary of some of the more creative ways I’ve been traveling using my bus pass and bike together.
- Bike to the Museum and catch the DD (quit snickering) and take it to the Broomfield Park and Ride. Bike to the Sports Oasis for volleyball. To get home: take the 76 bus to Wadsworth and 32nd. Get off and take my bike through Crown Hill Park home. Must have headlight for this ride.
- Walk to Colorado Blvd. and take the 40 south just past I25. Get picked up by volleyball friend and carpool to game at The Island in Aurora, then home.
- Take 32 bus to Highlands and bum a ride from my friend Angie to volleyball at the Sports Oasis.
- It’s raining and I’ve missed my bus. Beg friend Trish who lives in my neighborhood to carpool home from zoo. (Thank you, Trish!)
- Bike with my friend George downtown to catch the 28. The 28 already has one bike on it, so we decide to take the 38. The 38 is horrendously crowded. Hop off and take the 72X to Ward Road Park and Ride and ride home from there. Waved at 38 bus driver. Technically we beat him to the stop by about 5 seconds (this is the same bus we were on and the bus driver was laughing at us).
- Ride bike to friend’s house where Dan and I are going to dinner. Carpool home.
Our wild ride team has been working hard to reduce their impact as well. We hope to help others learn more about the many options available to employees to get to work responsibly. Carpooling, bussing with our free eco pass, biking or walking or any combination of the above can really make a difference to support what we do at the zoo – secure a better world for animals through human understanding.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I’ve hit a few speed bumps in the road, but have managed to continue my Wild Ride! My car has remained in the garage for commuting and I have purchased only one tank of gas in the past three and a half weeks! I’ve been having a lot of fun riding my bike and have enjoyed the quiet time on the bus to finish up work and read.
Since Aug. 1 I have:
• Biked 93 miles
• Bussed 149 miles
• Carpooled 40 miles
• Saved $80 in fuel costs
Recently I returned from vacationing in one of the world’s most bike- and public transit-friendly cities, Vancouver. In the spirit of the Wild Ride challenge our family decided to attempt to only utilize public transit, walking or biking on our vacation. Fortunately for us, our destination was very accommodating and we were successful.
From the airport we purchased tickets at a kiosk and took a train to a stop just two blocks from our hotel. This took about 25 minutes and was just $18 for all three of us. I can only imagine what the cost of a cab ride would have been. When we arrived at our stop and made our way out of the underground tunnel, we emerged to find a gorgeous city filled with friendly and fit people. Although we were tourists, we immediately felt comfortable with so many people out and about.
Vancouver has a robust public transit system of trains, buses and even boats. It also is very bike friendly and has more than 250 miles of designated bike lanes throughout the city that are safely separated from car traffic. There is also the sea wall, a pathway for pedestrians and bikers to enjoy along the waterfront that surrounds the downtown and Stanley Park areas.
While in Vancouver we walked, took buses and trains and even rented bikes to see Stanley Park. It was great! All these modes of transportation were well utilized and are part of the reason the downtown area is bustling with people enjoying the numerous shops, cafes, restaurants and parks. Although there are cars on the roads, most people were utilizing these other modes of transportation. Vancouver also has several bike lanes downtown that are separated from traffic by medians. The City of Vancouver conducted surveys and found that most bike commuters preferred these separated lanes. Plans are to develop more.
I know that Denver is becoming more bike-friendly and I’m so thankful for our lanes and trails, as well as our bus system and my zoo-provided bus pass. I am also very excited about many of the initiatives to grow our train access in the metro area, providing access from suburbs to the downtown corridor and the airport. Our city will continue to grow and with increased use of these amenities I believe there are many positive effects including vitalizing businesses and tourism, encouraging a fit community and reducing the impact on our environment. Certainly Vancouver is evidence of these benefits.
Our Wild Ride team is doing great using alternative commuting methods so far. Today many of us are taking advantage of the reduced-price bike maintenance being providing to us by a sponsor! My mountain bike is in some serious need of TLC and Chuck from Jack Rabbit Bike and Trail is bringing his tent out to help us with maintenance at a deeply discounted price! This is such a great deal and another way that the zoo is making it easier for us to bike to work.
Thanks for all of your support!
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Recently our EcoWheels Committee came up with a brilliant idea that is going to change my life. I applied for something called “Wild Ride,” a challenge to one zoo employee to give up their car for commuting for one full year and to all zoo employees to increase their use of alternative transportation. The purpose of this challenge is to promote alternative methods of commuting and reduce single-occupancy-vehicle commuting by Denver Zoo employees.
Unlike our talented conservation biology team, I won’t be going to Peru to save frogs (which I desperately desire to do), but this is something meaningful that I could accomplish. However, it wouldn't be easy. I would have a lot to overcome, including:
1. I have a 3-year-old girl that must be dropped off at preschool at 8 and picked up at 5:30
2. I am the spokesperson for the zoo and am on call 24/7 for emergencies. I also often have to work late unexpectedly and I occasionally have to be at work at 4 a.m. for live shots with the media.
3. I play volleyball every Tuesday in Broomfield. Games start as early as 6 p.m.
4. I live 12 miles from the zoo.
5. I LOVE breakfast burritos and it will be difficult for me to get them if I bike or bus to work. (I realize some obstacles are bigger than others to overcome, but due to my freakish love of breakfast burritos this one actually occurred to me - probably even higher up on the list. What can I say… I'm food-driven.)
I had used public transportation and rode my bike to work occasionally - only when it fit my schedule and whimsy. When I first started taking the bus and riding my bike, I was afraid. The bus scared me because I didn't know what I was doing or exactly where it would take me. Fortunately, I just tried it and it was easy. Biking to work was even more frightening. I was afraid of the cars, becoming lost, getting a flat and potentially dying of exhaustion. Then I read about this amazing woman named Shannon Galpin who started a nonprofit that provides women in Afghanistan bicycles, giving them access to health care, employment and education. Through her work she has brought bikes to midwives that enable them to reach women in labor, built schools for deaf children and has ridden her bike across Afghanistan. If she can do all this, surely I can make it to work without my car.
So, beginning in June, I started doing it. I wanted to see if this was really something I wanted to do before turning in my application for the "Wild Ride" contest in July. Some days have been better than others. I didn't appreciate the extra protein and calories provided to me by a bug that I accidentally choked down the other day and I certainly could have done without the experience of almost hitting the homeless man sleeping under the 20th Ave. bridge bike route. I've had a flat tire. My bike became stuck in high gear during a gruesome uphill ride home in 93-degree heat and then there's the Rockies foot traffic that resulted in the feeling of swimming upstream while being strapped to a bicycle. Or, my personal fave, when Google maps showed a road that wasn't actually finished yet and I had to carry my bike over some pretty rough terrain to get to my volleyball league.
Despite the inconvenience, I wouldn't trade these experiences because these events make this challenge my personal journey. They make it real. I value the resources I am saving and the example I am setting for my daughter and this by far outweighs the challenges and inconveniences I face. So, I (with the support of my amazing family) I decided to go for it and turned in my application for "Wild Ride."
Fortunately I was chosen as the first official wild rider. I am so thrilled at the opportunity and thankful for the generous donations other environmentally-conscious organizations have given me to help with my adventure. I am also so thankful for the support and encouragement my husband has given me. Without him, this would simply not be possible. I also must recognize the support of my teammates who are also taking this challenge - my fellow wild riders. Many of them plan to blog as well! In many ways they are more amazing than I am, as they have chosen to do this on their own accord, without the benefit of prizes. Last, but certainly not least I must acknowledge the support I receive from my fellow coworkers. Their understanding is crucial to my success.
I hope you will follow my blog and be inspired to try alternative transportation. This is something I can do to make a difference - and if I can do it, anyone can. And who knows; maybe after this I will do a field project or go to Afghanistan to ride with Galpin. Anything is possible, right? At least, that's how I feel by doing this one small thing.