August 30, 2001

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition

My old website will be expiring soon. So I'm cutting and pasting some of the old posts from there and tossing them in here.

Rob was recently interviewed by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
(see their version here)
Why did you join the SFBC? I felt like there were plenty of voices advocating the agenda of car drivers, but not much representation for bicyclists. The SFBC represents a clearminded, level-headed voice with actual suggestions for change. I think the SFBC has been careful not to overly indict car drivers, but instead to focus on helping bicyclists.
Also, bicycling is an important part of my life--the bicycle is not only an excellent means of transportation, but also a pragmatic application of my faith in Christ.

Tell me more about the connection between your faith and bicycling. In 1978, I experienced some profound changes in my life. I was becoming more aware of the degree to which we humans had damaged the lakes, rivers, oceans, land and air of this planet. I realized as I looked around me that everyone -- myself included -- was somewhat selfish and irresponsible int he stewardship of the resources that we have here on Earth.
That same year, I commenced a two-year long process of reading the Scriptures. The teachings, lifestyle, and claims of Jesus Christ impacted me profoundly. I came to believe that the lifestyle that Jesus called people to live was much more environmentally conscious than that which I saw around me in mainstream America.

Is that when you started using a bicycle for transportation? No, the shift was more gradual. At that point, I owned a small economy car. I was living in cities such as Houston, San Antonio, and Colorado Springs, and the idea of using a bicycle for transportation had never dawned on me; I didn't know anyone who used a bike for transportation, only recreation.
In 1989, I moved to the Bay Area. I was shocked at the volume of cars and traffic. Within a year of moving out to California, I gave up my car and bought a motorcycle. That was a big step towards realizing that transportation did not have to equal car ownership.

So how did you make the transition from a motorcycle to a bicycle? Eventually I moved into the Mission District. I started noticing all the bicyclists riding to the shops, locking their bikes outside the cafes and bookstores. It hit me one day... these people were really using their bikes as their transportation vehicles! I purchased a bike and gradually began to use it for trips to cafes. As time went on, I realized that I could use my bicycle for virtually all of my transportation needs around the city, and even -- by BART or Caltrain -- to other parts of the Bay Area.

How has bicycling in San Francisco influenced your faith? I have come to solidly believe that bicycling enables me to practically live out several Scriptural teachings:
* Stewardship. Using the bicycle has been far more environmentally and economically sound than the car or motorcycle;
Loving my neighbor as myself. Bicycling reduces the pollution I put into the air that others must breathe, and dramatically reduced the risk I pose to others -- especially pedestrians and other bicyclists -- as compared to driving a car.
* Consideration for the poor. A bicycle is a much more affordable form of transportation than a car. By using our bikes for transportation -- and communicating such usage -- I think bicyclists can send a collective message to the government that the car doesn't have go be accepted as the default form of individual-controlled transportation. We need a transportation system that accommodates everyone, even those who can't legally afford to own and operate a car;
* Consideration of others. Using my bike is a way to stem the current of "consideration degradation" that cars seem to foster. It's amazing to me the degree to which cars and their drivers degrade others' quality of life -- car alarms going off in the middle of the night, car horns at six in the morning, cars parked so thick on the sidewalk that you have to push the baby stroller on the street, cars blocking wheelchair ramps and bike lanes.

Anything else you'd like to add? My real challenge is to encourage other Christians I know to consider bicycling as making a lot of sense in light of Christ's teachings. This has been slow going, but there have been some successes. One of the pastors at my church recently joined the SFBC. He put some good street tires and a NightRider light on his old mountain bike, and he now uses it for much of his transportation around town. Maybe a sermon that mentions bicycling isn't too far behind....