Bike to the future
Three’s A Charm
Bike to the future
Cyclists discuss long-term impacts of the bicycle as Transportation, and of bicycle advocacy campaigns such as Bike to Work Day and new Two Wheeled Drive
By April M. Short
Every day, rain or shine, Connie Wilson rides her bicycle to her job as a night-shift nurse at Dominican Hospital.
Some might say she does it because traffic congestion uses nearly 3.9 billion gallons of gas per year in the U.S. (according to a 2010 Urban Mobility report by the Texas Transportation Institute). Some might say she does it because every single mile pedaled rather than driven saves almost one pound—0.88 pounds to be exact—of carbon dioxide (according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency). While Wilson acknowledges the environmental impacts of cycling are vital reasons to cycle, the reality is, she simply loves to ride.
Wilson has volunteered with Ecology Action’s Bike Week for more than 20 years. She supports promotional events like Bike Week because she, like many who bicycle for transportation, wants to share her passion with others. “You never have to deal with parking,” she says. “You get to learn all the really nice routes and you can circumvent a lot of the traffic.”
May 4-12 was Santa Cruz’s 25th annual Bike Week, and Nick Mucha, sustainable transportation program specialist for Ecology Action, says the campaign focused on the joy of riding a bike. “The motivation for having the program is giving people an opportunity to try it out and fall in love with it, and see how it’s also practical,” he says.
Bike Week and its main event, Bike to Work Day, began in 1988 with only a couple hundred participants. Now, the event attracts 6,000 to 7,000 participants. While events that support bicycling as transit continue to gather support, the impact of motor vehicles on the natural environment remains significant. Forty percent of Santa Cruz’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the transportation sector.
But now that Bike Week is over, what is Santa Cruz doing to encourage people to make a shift from four wheels to two?
For one thing, it’s still national Bike Month, according to the League of American Bicyclists. And for another, the new Two Wheeled Drive campaign is raising money for bike tech classes in local schools, (through May 31). These classes are similar to auto shop, but for bicycles, and they teach kids about the mechanics as well as the positive ecological and health implications of bicycling.
Two Wheeled Drive is a campaign launched by Ecology Action and Project Bike Trip (PBT) in which people pledge to use two wheels rather than four for a self-selected challenge. Participants decide on any fundraising goal to reach by the end of May and more than $12,000 in prizes will be given out to top fundraising efforts.
Katie Declerq, director of PBT, notes that the Green Waves for School director makes his way out to each PBT Bike Tech class and does a specific presentation on bikes as transportation.
“If we can get some of those kids to change their habits and start riding bikes around town, or riding their bikes with their friends for fun, all of that is beneficial to the kids and our community because we’ll have more healthy people and fewer cars on the road,” she says.
Mucha says Ecology Action didn’t hesitate to join in on the Two Wheeled Drive effort because, like Declerq, they were excited by the fundamental level by people choosing two wheels over four.
“[Two Wheeled Drive] dovetails perfectly with bike month,” he says.
Make the Ride Green
Soon, Bike Month and the Two Wheeled Drive Campaign will end. However, Ecology Action and Project Bike Trip are dedicated to helping campaigns like these succeed on a long-term scale.
After Bike Month, Ecology Action uses surveys gathered during the Bike to Work Day gatherings and sends monthly e-newsletters with tips and community cycling information. “It also provides words of encouragement to remind people why it’s important,” Mucha adds.
California Secretary of Natural Resources and former Santa Cruz politician John Laird is an avid cyclist and actually participated in the first-ever Bike to Work Day. He rode a tandem bicycle with then chancellor of UC Santa Cruz in an effort to smooth over rocky relations, at the time.
Laird says promotional bicycling events like Bike to Work and Two Wheeled Drive can be useful to garner community and political support for large-scale alternative transit projects, such as the completion of the coastal trail Laird tried to advance when he was in the legislature.
“While the economic downturn has slowed completion of the trail, it is really something that is on the books that if the economy ever comes back we will try to get done,” he says. “Promotional events demonstrate how many people use bikes, and a lot of people tell their own stories. If you hear from a promotional event how somebody commutes—how easy it is, how it changes their gas costs, how it makes them in better shape—then you actually see how you could do it.”
Laird describes the two bicycle commuters at the Deputy Secretary level of his offices, who walk out of the office with a band around one leg of their suit when they leave for the day.
“I think that alternative forms of transportation are the future, whether it’s a hybrid car, a bicycle, walking to work—it’s something we’re gonna have to do much more of in California,” Laird says. “So, it’s great people are learning about it through events like these.”
In Santa Cruz, efforts to improve bicycle infrastructure have added 57 miles of dedicated bike lanes and paths in the last three decades. However, Santa Cruz’s Climate Action Plan notes, “… a significant and prolonged effort is needed to meet our transportation-related [greenhouse gas] reduction goal over the next 10 years.”
The city’s current objective is to meet an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Details of the objective are outlined in page 48-60 of the Climate Action Plan.
Mayor Don Lane, also a daily cyclist, says that while he is not aware of any bike-only roads in the works, there is still a city effort under way to obtain grant funding to explore the best bicycle options for King Street in Santa Cruz.
“The City doesn’t have adequate funds to do this study but a successful grant application will make that possible,” he says.
Bike improvements in the works in Santa Cruz include the Broadway-Brommer bike and pedestrian path through the Arana Gulch greenbelt, completion of the San Lorenzo River levee path by building a pedestrian/bike bridge over Branciforte Creek, and the creation of the new multi-use trail on the eastern edge of Pogonip.
In addition, a long-term countywide project to create a bike path along the rail corridor continues under the leadership of the Regional Transportation Commission.
“In broader terms, our Climate Action Plan has many commitments to alternative transportation,” says Lane. “Both in direct transportation projects and in land use planning, we are trying to implement policies that will facilitate more bicycling and walking and place less emphasis on single-occupant motor vehicle trips.”
Connie Wilson says she is excited about efforts like Two Wheeled Drive and Bike Week because the more promotional events encouraging people to ride their bikes, the better.
“To me, the thing is, how we can get kids to change their focus from the car-centric world that we live in to the love and the independence of biking,” she says “Whatever it takes to get people started.”
Learn more by visiting bike2work.com, projectbiketrip.org or bike2work.com.
Three’s A Charm
One woman’s green dreams blossomed into three local companies
By Leslie Patrick
Imagine how different the world would be if everyone took just one extra step each day toward environmental preservation. Cyndi Maskolunas did, and her vision has since inspired her to open three “green” businesses dedicated to helping others make small steps too. This intrepid entrepreneur is the force behind web boutique Wild-Poppies, Emanate interior design and EcoVanity, which Maskolunas not only owns, but also designs furniture for. Many people think that something’s being green automatically places it in the unattractive and expensive category, but Maskolunas has set out to prove that that is simply not the case.
With Wild-Poppies, she and her friend and co-owner Brigette Ross, decided that they wanted to provide a wider range of options to consumers wanting to go green. Wild-Poppies has done just that, and now anyone in the world can purchase the artwork made from reclaimed steel, the handcrafted organic soaps and the recycled plastic lunch boxes sold by these Felton based businesswomen. Wild-Poppies also offers handmade jewelry sourced from local designers, candles, toys and even the occasional item of clothing to the green- minded consumer. A recent search found a biodegradable vegan iPad 2 purse by Viola Hawkes, proving that fashion, functionality and sustainability really can mix.
With Emanate and EcoVanity, Maskolunas incorporates her love of sustainable products with her love of design. As an interior designer, Maskolunas chooses to supply her clients with only sustainable materials such as cork and bamboo flooring, organic cotton, clay and hemp. In the past, when it came to cabinetry that was made from sustainable materials and not coated with chemicals, Maskolunas was left with nary a choice. Everything she found was made on foreign shores, made from formaldehyde-filled plywood and coated with potentially toxic varnishes. This led her to create her own line of custom cabinets and vanities made in the U.S., of sustainably harvested wood, and made without chemicals or toxins, to support her ideals of establishing a green economy. Since then, EcoVanity has been established, tying in nicely to the Emanate design business.
Contact Wild-Poppies at 428-3225; Emanate/ EcoVanity at (408) 438-8134. Learn more at Wild-Poppies.com and emanatedesign.com.
Lydia Corser of greenspace opens up about the popular store’s future
By Cynthia Orgel
From its beginnings in late 2006, greenspace always had a great deal going for it. Perfectly located in the Rio Theatre shopping district, it was affectionately nestled between such popular businesses like Lillian’s Italian Kitchen and what was formerly Gateways Books. It became the Santa Cruz dream: outstanding eco-friendly goods and an owner who boasted a strong commitment to the community. It also won raves for its home finishings and furnishings, and, in a significant way, enabled consumers to purchase fine products, which, in turn, helped them create better environments for their families—and even their animals.
However, at the beginning of May, the owner and certified kitchen designer, Lydia Corser, notified customers and friends that greenspace would close at the end of the month—quite an unsettling shock to the 3,700 people on greenspace’s email list.
For Corser, who created the interior design for Ecology Action, the color consulting for Vivas, and the Rio’s entire floor (stained with greenspace’s soy-based concrete stain), to note a few, the response from her clientele means a lot. In fact, it is fuelling her hopes for a greenspace-related future.
“I don’t want to say goodbye,” says Corser. “I live in this community, and if greenspace goes out of business, I’m going to reinvent myself.”
But loyalty to greenspace comes in all sorts of forms. Beyond the local outpouring of support, there was a Cash Mob on May 11, which was organized by Matthew Werner, a devoted greenspace shopper and member of Santa Cruz Woodworkers. The event eased the shop’s financial tensions, but more importantly, it also brought customers to come together who wanted to appreciate their favorite sustainable-living store. It was also an opportunity for everybody to brainstorm on important next steps.
Although this is a challenging time for Corser, her colleagues and clients, she is positive about the future. “Our goal has been to be a lifestyle store,” she says. “We’re open—literally and figuratively.”
greenspace is located at 1122 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz, 423-7200. Visit greenspacecompany.com for current newsletters and updates, in addition to the extensive online catalogue.
Local businesses ride the eco train. Take note of this season’s finest and learn what makes them green.
What It does: This sushi restaurant and tea house offers up the traditional sushi fare but without the guilt of wondering whether you have inadvertently killed a dolphin by eating that sashimi.
Why It’s Green: Its mission is to further the cause of sustainable living; member of the Seafood Watch partnership program; uses only sustainably harvested seafood. | Leslie Patrick
200 Monterey Ave., Capitola. 464-3328.
What It does: This self described “wellness center” offers everything one might need (yoga, massage, nutrition counseling) to be healthy in body, mind and spirit.
Why It’s Green: Very little waste, everything is recycled, use cloth instead of paper towels, use recycled paper, only sells sustainable products. | LP
130 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. 429-9355.
What It does: This car dealership offers strictly ecologically friendly cars, trucks and scooters for the environmentally conscious drivers. It’s the only dealership of its kind in Santa Cruz County.
Why It’s Green: Educates consumers on the sustainability of green automobiles, strives to assist customers to remove themselves from fossil fuel dependence. | LP
1823 Soquel Ave., Suite B, Santa Cruz. 475-5873.
SC 41 Furniture
What It Does: Offers a plethora of natural, organic and sustainable home furnishings that actually look stylish.
Why It’s Green: Committed to ecologically sound business practices; buy local ethos; member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Program. | LP
2647 41st Ave., Soquel. 464-2228.
What It Does: From lube to literature, Pure Pleasure has just the right item to arouse and/or relieve your kinky curiosities. The provocative gem resides on Church Street in Downtown Santa Cruz, and the brave Baldwin women who run it, Janis and Amy, prefer to celebrate all types of sexual activity, rather than equate it with sin. Why It’s Green: rechargeable vibrators; vegan harnesses (made without animal products); drop-offs for recycling old batteries; buying/selling condoms in bulk, thereby drastically reducing the amount of packaging. | Cynthia Orgel
Pure Pleasure is located at 204 Church St., Santa Cruz. Call 466-9870 for further inquiries or check out the “Green Pleasures” section at purepleasureshop.com.
City of Scotts Valley City Hall
What It Does: Finance, Building, Planning, and Police. It also helped establish a sense of community and safety for locals of all ages, thanks to the creation of a Community Center and Senior Center, as well as playgrounds and other designated sports areas.
Why It’s Green: Green-certified; no fluorescent lights; recycled water used for landscape irrigation; no Styrofoam products; next objective is to swap wall switches for motion sensors. | CEO
City of Scotts Valley City Hall is located at One Civic Center Drive, Scotts Valley. For additional information, call the City Administration’s main line at 440-5600, and visit scottsvalley.org.
Soif Wine Merchants
What It Does: As a wine bar, restaurant and retail space, Soif Wine Merchants brings the wide world of wine to Santa Cruz residents.
Why It’s Green: Sources wines that were made using organic and biodynamic practices; wine club features one red and one white organic wine each month, each Wednesday and Saturday the chef shops at farmers’ markets to create menus that are locally sourced. | LP
105 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. 423-2020.
Surf City Suds Laundromat
What It Does: If you ever consider a laundromat to be an inconvenience—whether it’s because you are embarrassed to wear your “Laundry Day Clothes” in public, or because you never seem to have quarters at the right moment—shame on you. Clearly, you have yet to go to Surf City Suds, especially convenient location-wise for UCSC students. You can even surf the Internet—for free.
Why It’s Green: Green-Certified from the Monterey Bay Area Green Business Association; high-temperature, time-saving dryers; washing machines with spectacular and efficient spin cycles; these large Dexter brand machines hold up to an impressive 80 pounds, allowing you to do laundry less often than you would at your own home. | CEO
Surf City Suds Laundromat is located at -228 Cardiff Place, Santa Cruz. To speak with an employee, call 334-8098, or leave a message at surfcitysuds.findalaundry.org.
George Allen & Sons Plumbing
What It does: This family-owned plumbing business does what plumbers do by fixing pipes, toilets, sinks and water heaters, etc.
Why It’s Green: Offers green plumbing solutions such as tankless water heaters; educates customers on sustainable water usage. | LP
5042 Scotts Valley Drive, Scotts Valley. 438-1335.
L’Atelier Salon de Beauté and Day Spa
What It Does: L’Atelier couldn’t be more aptly named, considering what this salon and day spa means in French: an artist’s workshop or studio. Whether you want to go bold and colorful or simply desire a new cut, let L’Atelier’s creative stylists transform your tresses into a timeless work of art; or try their therapeutic facials, offered to both men and women.
Why It’s Green: The company is a certified Éminence Green Spa, carrying a vast variety of the Hungarian-based company’s organic, handmade makeup and skin care. SpaRitual’s vegan, nontoxic nail lacquers are available at the Day Spa in all sorts of hues; gel manicures include products that are entirely free of cancer-causing materials; both locations recycle, have energy-efficient light bulbs, and are well-ventilated. | CEO
L’Atelier Salon de Beauté is open daily and located at 114 Pearl Alley, Santa Cruz. Call 423-424 for additional information. For the Day Spa on 304 Lincoln St., Santa Cruz, call 469-7546. Visit lateliersalon.com to learn more about products and promotions.