Read about what attracted Elyse to join BikeNet as a service member;
Almost from the day that I got my license, I disliked driving. It made me both bored and nervous at the same time. Every time I got in the driver’s seat, it was a struggle to make sure I paid attention to the road and didn’t succumb to the tedium of watching the world pass by me at 40 miles an hour.
Despite my dislike of motorized transit, I saw little alternative. Driving just wasn’t my thing, which was fine, but what was the other option?
One day during college, it just seemed to clicked. There can and should be an alternative to driving in America. If we focus solely on driving, we we make it impossible for many Americans to get to jobs, to see their family, and to receive medical care. Not to mention, according to the U.S Department of Transportation, ⅔ of all US oil consumption can be accounted for by the transportation sector. By providing an alternative for the car, we could dramatically reduce oil consumption which would be good news for the future of our planet.
As I finished up college, I knew that I wanted to help make transportation alternatives more possible for people around the country. The question was: how to do this? How could I as a 23 year-old, fresh out of college woman actually do something that would make even the smallest difference?
Then I found BikeNet. BikeNet works in Billings, MT to support a complete, community wide trails system. In October I was lucky enough to join them as an Energy Corps member. In my role as an Energy Corps service member with this great organization, I encourage people to use active transportation and to get out on the trail system. In my last month and a half here, I have found the trails to be a great way to get around town and get some exercise.
What exactly does my position entail? Right now I am working on a cyclist/motorist etiquette campaign to encourage drivers to be more aware of cyclists and to encourage cyclists to follow more of the rules of the road. Friday I spent the day updating Google Maps so that cyclists with be able to accurately plan a safe bicycle trip within Billings. The day before I networked with students at the local college wishing to start their own bicycle club and encourage fellow students to ride to campus and to the grocery store on bikes.
Whatever it is that I do on a day to day basis, I am so glad to have found a position within Energy Corps that allows me to address an issue so important to me. It doesn’t hurt that everyone I have met so far, from board members to general members of BikeNet, is so excited to participate and to work to improve the trail system. I hope to carry their enthusiasm with me through the end of my service term and on into the future.
Elyse Monat graduated from Tulane University with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Spanish and a minor in Urban Studies. Because of her interest in sustainable transportation, she interned for IndyCog and Ride New Orleans, advocacy groups for biking and public transportation respectively. Elyse is currently serving with BikeNet Billings, assisting with programs that lead to more sustainable transportation in the community.