This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.
Americans rediscovered their love of biking during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many are taking a mountain bike trip with Amtrak. This week’s Climate Win takes a look at a budding travel phenomenon in post-pandemic United States: the practice of taking bicycle trips with zero added emissions.
Hopping on a bike and hitting the road is nothing new, of course. But the current trend combines the practice of bicycle touring and bikepacking with cross-country travel, all the while ditching the car in favor of alternative methods of rapid transport. Cycling company Trek conducted a survey of Americans during the heart of the pandemic last year and found that 21 percent of them biked more during the pandemic and that 50 percent plan to keep riding even post-pandemic for both transportation and exercise. And an impressive 63 percent of those surveyed said that cycling had boosted their mental health during the pandemic — so it’s no surprise that Americans want to keep cycling even as travel restrictions continue to ease.
As travel picks back up, this biking boom presents an interesting option: the possibility of combining cycling with train travel for adventure travel trips that are not just good for your health and mental well-being, but also good for the planet. Several major Amtrak routes pass through parts of the country where epic bike rides are easily accessible from train stations en route. With more trails opening every year, it’s never been easier to take a mountain bike trip with Amtrak.
For example, the popular California Zephyr line, which travels daily between Chicago and Los Angeles, passes through both the Rocky Mountains and the Slickrock desert of the American Southwest. A popular ride stop en route is Glenwood Springs, which offers ample mountain biking and easy access to Aspen (even by bike). Just west is the Grand Junction Amtrak station, which lets you hit the new Palisade Plunge as well as the hundreds of miles of singletrack available in the nearby town of Fruita and all of eastern Utah — including Moab, less than two hours away. Similarly, the Southwest Chief line passes through Flagstaff, Arizona, where cyclists can bike local trails before hopping the Thruway bus and/or Grand Canyon Railway to ride alongside the epic vistas of the Greenway Trail along the Grand Canyon’s South Rim.
East Coasters aren’t left out of the fun. The Capitol Limited route runs from Washington, DC, to Chicago. Disembark in Pittsburgh and hit the epic 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage through the Cumberland Narrows, the Mason-Dixon Line, the Eastern Continental Divide, and more. Pennsylvania just might be the most underrated mountain bike destination in America, with a host of trails stretching east between Pittsburgh and the smaller city of Lancaster in central PA.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Empire Builder line connects cyclists to Montana’s Big Sky country. With a stop at the East Glacier station, mountain bikers can hit all the trails surrounding Glacier National Park and road cyclists can ride the Going-To-The-Sun Road within the park’s boundaries. The Coast Starlight line runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, providing access to the trails of the Cascade Mountains, the road favorite Rim Drive ride via the Klamath Falls stop, and the Burke-Gilman trail near Seattle.
These routes have always accessed these areas, but the bike boom in the United States is drawing increased attention to reaching cycling destinations sans private vehicles. The time is perfect to take a mountain bike trip with Amtrak and make your fall travels with zero added emissions.
More climate wins
Maine will shift the expensive price tag of recycling to the companies who produce recyclable materials, The New York Times reported. Companies will be charged based on what they produce, with the money going into an audited nonprofit designed to reimburse municipalities for the cost of their recycling programs. The concept could serve as a model for other states struggling with the increasing financial burdens of recycling programs, with over 10 other states considering similar measures.
Greenland has never produced any oil, despite much speculation that there could be vast reserves under its surface. Fifty years ago, the government decided to try — and they’ve now officially decided to stop, Reuters reported. Multiple major oil companies had attempted to drill for oil since the 1970s, unsuccessfully, and the Greenland government announced this week that it would end all oil exploration.
Single-use plastic bans have been enacted in eight US states, with 42 to go. Greece is one-upping the US by imposing a national single-use plastics ban in an attempt to curb waste and protect the environment, the Greek Reporter noted. The task will be a tough one, given the heavy use of plastic utensils in tourist areas and lack of clean drinking water on many islands — but the government enacted the ban effective July 3 and hopes to phase down consumption of plastic cutlery, bottles, bags, and other single-use plastics beginning immediately.
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