Read about the hustle and bustle the Montana Commuter Challenge brings to Emily’s service year:
Warm weather has arrived, which means that biking and walking season is coming into full swing. Helena is waking up, and it’s exciting to see people out and about. Just this morning, I passed by a middle school gym class taking advantage of the sunny day to have a bicycling lesson! This has also been conveniently the time where a curse of some sort has fallen over my bike and me; after TWO bent up wheels on my commuter bike from cars hitting it in the same week (luckily while I’m not on it) and a mountain biking fall that bruised up my whole leg, I am finally able to ride again.
This sunny energy makes May the perfect time to encourage active transportation. We are now two weeks into the Montana Commuter Challenge, where my time has been split providing support for the statewide challenge, and organizing the local Helena challenge. I have spent the past few weeks running around town, encouraging businesses to donate weekly incentives and prizes, events, perks, anything that will make the Challenge special to be a part of. Helena has always impressed me with it’s willingness to support community projects – every night there seems to be a different fundraising event at a brewery or restaurant – and it certainly showed when all of the businesses I approached did not hesitate a second to be a part of the Commuter Challenge! I’ve appreciated this project as an opportunity to appeal to the everyday rider or walker. This isn’t about how good you are or how much gear you have – this is simply about getting from point A to point B in a fun way. It’s challenging to get past the intimidation that biking can create, but I think events like this can help people try it out and see that you don’t need to by a pro cycler to commute to and from work. I’ve also enjoyed the environmental angle that the Commuter Challenge has created. On the website and in our weekly emails, we have been communicating how many pounds of CO2 have not been emitted in relation to the amount of miles logged, which can be a pretty powerful number to see. I’m hoping to use the momentum that’s been stirred up with the Commuter Challenge to continue projects and events through the rest of the summer, though I would be lying if I said I wasn’t ready for it to wind down so I could get a breath of fresh air!
The next few months will be an exciting, confusing, and busy time as I wrap up my projects, figure out what the heck I want to do next, and try and squeeze in as much biking, hiking, and exploring as possible!
Emily Gluckin attended the University of Vermont in Burlington, VT, where she majored in Environmental Studies and minored in Green Building and Community Design. She focused her studies on how to create sustainable communities through improved design, technologies and community engagement. Emily is serving at Bike Walk Montana (BWMT) as their Alternative Transportation Educator. Her projects include education and outreach about safe biking and walking, organizing the BWMT Annual Summit, developing educational materials, web content, and newsletters, and further development BW Helena.