7/2/2013 12:34:05 PM

Cycle for Change Bike Ride

They did it! On Saturday, June 29th, a team of cyclists pedaled for 100 miles on the second annual Cycle for Change bike ride, with a route taking them from the Lincoln Park Zoo to the Milwaukee County Zoo, all in one day.

The brainchild of Philip Fensterer of the Oregon Zoo, a graduate of our Leadership Camp, the ride was designed to show support for green transportation and to raise awareness about the urgent need to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

 "We were 25 bicycle riders strong, with a combination of returning folks from last year's event, and new cyclists eager to challenge themselves to a century ride," Philip said. "The ride is all about the accomplishment of 100 miles on a bike and the fellowship that this creates."

But even more important, he adds, is the momentum for biking that Cycle for Change inspires.

"In order to be successful, it's critical that we inspire others to get on their bikes and ride," he says. "We need more people to commute by bike and to use their bike to run errands."

In addition to Philip, a special shout out to the following volunteers who helped make this year's Cycle for Change ride possible:

  • Joe Dickstein, Tom Grose, Howard Lo, and the Chicago Cycling Club
  • Anthony Nielsen and the Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Christy Mazrimas-Ott and Christy Azzarello and the Brookfield Zoo
  • Amanda Ista and the catering department at the Milwaukee County Zoo
  • Hunter Veeneman of the Louisville Zoo for providing a support vehicle for the ride

The June Cycle for Change ride follows a successful Bike Commute Challenge in May involving several teams from our Arctic Ambassador Center network. Team captains included Dan Nellis of the Columbus Zoo (who organized the challenge), Anthony Nielsen of the Lincoln Park Zoo, Stacy Whitaker of the Milwaukee County Zoo, and Philip Fensterer of the Oregon Zoo (part of the Metro Parks team).

Staff members at the four participating zoos logged over 4,600 miles of bike commuting in May 2013. That's the equivalent of a trip from coast to coast in the U.S. and halfway back! It also equates to over 4,500 pounds of CO2 saved from going into the atmosphere.

The Milwaukee County Zoo team placed first in the challenge. Team leader Stacy Whitaker says she gave up having a car in 2009, so biking became her mode of transport.

"It's a way of life for me now. Some days, especially during bad weather, it's hard to get going. But I would rather be riding through the parkway enjoying my morning than sitting in traffic," she says. "People always say they admire what I do and wish they could do it too. I say you can, so when asked if I wanted to head the team I figured it would be a chance to try and motivate more people.

"Mostly it's been a success. I tell everyone that biking even just once a week makes a difference. The biggest challenge right now is the massive amount of construction going on around the zoo. I get questions about safety; people are afraid of getting hit by a car. The biggest advice I have about that is on a day off, not during rush hour, take time to figure out a safe route that is comfortable for you and, yes, sometimes that means going a little farther."  

If you are inspired to begin using your bike instead of your car, we would love to hear about it. You can also join the bike commute fun on the Bike Commute Challenge website. The big challenge is in September, but you can join and start tracking your miles at any time. Form a team and join our Cycle for Change league!

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