Archive for the ‘New York’ Category

Into My Hometown

May 7th, 2007 by Bill

David stayed behind in NYC to do two television interviews for Spanish news stations. I headed off via train from Manhattan over to Somerville, NJ, and then biked two days to my hometown of of Chester Springs, Pennsylvania.

Entering Pennsylvania

Biking slowly to allow David to catch up, I took the time to snap more photos. I stopped alongside a maze of electrical transformers and took a few photos that I thought might be useful in presentations.

Electrical Wires - the police pulled Bill over for taking this picture

Apparently someone considered this suspicious because a few minutes later two police cars pulled me over. The police couldn’t quite understand what I was doing and didn’t like my answer of “nowhere really” when they asked where I lived. I certainly understood their concern in this post 9-11 world, but this also brings up the issue of energy security. Are there new ways to supply energy that will not contribute to global warming and will also provide less of a target to terrorists? Could less centralized systems of wind, solar and other forms of energy also offer other important benefits?

David caught up by the time we reached Valley Forge National Park and we pedaled the last 20 miles into Chester Springs. (The house below is where I grew up. I learned to ride a bicycle in that very driveway.)

Bill, in front of the house he grew up in, in Chester Springs, PA

Some roads became noticeably less comfortable to ride as cars passed by at high speeds with little concern for bicyclists and many roads and intersections simply had no thought of bicyclists or pedestrians in their design. The rolling farmland that I knew growing up has been largely replaced by massive houses on large lots.

Large Houses in Suburban Pennsylvania

This makes it difficult for people who want to be more energy efficient since they often have no options for public transportation and large houses also require more energy to heat and cool. On the other hand, there are big savings to be made by even small steps such as weather stripping doors and windows, changing to energy efficient light bulbs and insulating the hot water heater.

We stayed with some of my family in Chester Springs.

Bill's brother, Jon, tracks us down because we left this sandwich at his house.

It was great to see them, but also good to hear their perspective on global warming. We have very different views on some things but find a lot of common ground on the need to address global warming. On Saturday we biked to a nearby festival that was coordinated by a Green Valleys Association, a local organization. There were booths with people talking about locally grown produce, more fuel efficient vehicles, and energy efficient products for building homes.

The Envirofest in Chester Springs - we gave a talk here

We gave a short talk there and another that evening to a large group that my friends had gathered around a dinner at their house. On Sunday we gave a talk to local 6th grade students. My sister-in-law coordinated the event (and did a great job!) and we spoke with about 20 kids as well as some parents.

A talk for a 6th graders in Chester Springs

I (heart) NY

May 4th, 2007 by Bill

We arrived in NYC determined to eat as many bagels as possible — carbs just don’t get any better than a fresh NYC bagel. We stayed with my friends in their Brooklyn brownstone. Their son James is an up and coming bicyclist.

Tony and James
Mirabal Sister's School in Harlem
Recycle a Bicycle - a great place to get a bike!

While in NYC we gave talks at NYU, an EMS store in Manhattan and a school in Harlem. Recycle a Bicycle coordinated the Harlem talk and we had an opportunity to see their shop at the school. Kids work in the shop learning bicycle maintenance and business skills. They build up bicycles from old parts and sell them to finance the shop and many educational programs.

Nightly Telemundo News for New York and New Jersey

Before we left town, David appeared live on the Telemundo nightly news (Spanish news channel for NY and NJ) and was interviewed for Despierta America — the interview will air internationally (40 million viewers) on Univision in the next few weeks.

Global warming will be a significant problem for NYC. Many more days over 90 degrees would drive up cooling costs and threaten public health — especially the elderly. Rising seas combined with a storm surge are a serious threat for much of the city.

View from the Bike, New York City
Manhattan, Statue of Liberty

We were surprised to learn that the average American emits about 3 times as much global warming pollution as the average NYC resident. This is largely because of NYC’s great mass transportation (subway, buses, etc.) and smaller homes which require less energy to heat and cool. We also found that the Mayor had just released a plan to cut global warming emissions by 30% by 2030. The plan focuses on clean power, avoiding sprawl, more efficient building and sustainable transportation. The plan is designed to have multiple benefits — so that as they reduce global warming emissions and air pollution they also save billions in lower energy costs and reduced traffic congestion.

Amherst, MA to New York City

April 29th, 2007 by David
Asking at the fire station in Wilbraham, MA, if we can stay the night.

Leaving Amherst, Bill and I biked south towards Connecticut. As night came on the first day, we had to find a place to camp, and Bill suggested I ask at the fire station. For those of you who followed my journeys through Latin America, you know that I stayed at almost 40 fire stations across Latin America, simply because the firefighters would let me stay with them when I asked. I asked at the Wilbraham fire station if we could stay (I showed them my patches from many different fire stations across Latin America). No, I was told. It is against the rules.

Behind the Maconi household
Dinner with the Maconi's

Fortunately, while buying some food at a gas station, we met John Maconi, who offered us camping space behind his house, as well as a shower and some dinner (he left us a comment). While in the U.S. fire stations may have more rules and more worries about liability than in Latin America, it was good to see that strangers would still welcome Bill and me into their house.

Traveling on, Bill and I biked into Hartford Connecticut, where we gave a talk at at Alchemy Juice Bar, and then into New Haven, where we gave a talk at Yale University. We also appeared in the Greenwich Post and the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

From New Haven, we followed the Connecticut coast towards New York. I am still amazed by the size of U.S. houses in comparison to the houses I saw across Latin America – I remember a woman in the mountains in Peru, who lived in a three-walled hut, who asked me “Don’t you have nice houses in the U.S.?” I kept hearing that phrase as I biked. Houses in the U.S. are so comfortable.

Houses on the waterfront in Connecticut
Houses on the waterfront in Connecticut
Bill and Connecticut Shoreline

Many of these houses in southern Connecticut, which are extremely comfortable, are built right along the shoreline, and it was hard not to have another sensation passing them: Any bit of sea level rise will damage or flood so much property here. For a discussion of how much sea level may rise, you can read a former post of mine.

After a night in Greenwich Connecticut at the house of Zaac, a bicycle tourist who found out about our project, a group of cyclists met us and guided us through secondary streets and into New York City.

Team of cyclists riding into NYC
Group of cyclists to ride into NYC
Bill and David on the street in NYC