Bike Walk Bus Week, coming April 28-May 5, is a great time to remind our community of the connection between limiting car use and JRPC’s mission of promoting peace, justice, and sustainability in the world and our community. Many of you no doubt know I’m committed to bicycling for transportation, but I’m not sure you all make that connection – that it is about far more than my own health and enjoyment. I bike for peace – my own, my community’s, and the world. When biking, I feel inner peace as I enjoy lovely Missoula neighborhoods, paths, and greeting other cyclists or pedestrians but I also bike to consciously limit my use of the oil that drives nations to war and oppression. I bike for sustainability: besides not using oil, I’m quiet and don’t pollute the air or add to traffic congestion that fuels the outcry for more and wider roads. I bike (and advocate for safe biking) for justice: many people cannot drive their own vehicles and need improved facilities. And – all that money I save by not buying gas? Maybe it helps me increase my donations to JRPC or other peace, justice, and sustainability groups! While my choice is to bike, walking and using the bus are also good peace, justice, and sustainability options – just not as fast and convenient. Maybe you can try all three as you take the opportunity next week to make every effort not to use your car. All kinds of great treats and prizes awaiting participants!
Missoula has made great progress the last few years in improving the safety and convenience of biking and walking in our community, a direct result of increased advocacy on the part of Bike/Walk Alliance for Missoula (BWAM) and other advocacy groups. From bike lanes on Higgins, Brooks and Bancroft to sharrows on the Hip Strip, Mount, and Beckwith, improvements have increased safety on Missoula’s streets for cyclists, and the City Council is tackling the difficult issue of financing to complete the sidewalk system, all largely due to BWAM’s advocacy.
“When biking and walking we have closer contact with people who are different from us. We make connections. It helps us recognize our commonality and common ground. It also makes it harder to disregard them. The more we get out of our cars, from behind our computer and TV screens, and get out of our houses, the more we can have the kinds of encounters that slowly but surely contribute to peace and justice.” ~Greg Oliver, BWAM Board of Directors
Next week, besides being a great time to try biking, walking, or taking the bus to work and errands, is a good time for more people to realize the connection to JRPC’s mission and to consciously, as a political act, make fewer trips by single-occupancy vehicle. It is also a great time for you to become an active advocate! If you agree that reducing vehicle miles traveled in our community is a worthy peace, justice, and sustainability practice and that volunteers, through education and advocacy, can make a difference, please learn more about BWAM at bikewalkmissoula.org, get on our e-mail newsletter list by sending an e-mail to me — firstname.lastname@example.org, or pick up a brochure during Bike-Walk-Bus Week. Take two steps next week: first, don’t drive; second, learn more about BWAM and consider joining us. Thanks for giving it a try! –Ethel MacDonald, JRPC CC Member (Emeritus)