September 24, 2011 — Today was Moving Planet Day, promoted by 350.org to move the planet beyond fossil fuels and unsustainable practices. The Lone Star Sierra Club and 350.org hosted a green and sustainability bike tour.
The group assembled at 4th and Guadalupe at the Austin farmer’s market to a beautiful Texas morning, the music and the fanfare of the market. At around noon the 60 or so enthusiasts took action to explore the many sustainable and green transportation and civic landmarks around the city.
The first stop was City hall where Council member Chris Riley shared many of the installations of the legislative building, including the terraced gardens watered from the air conditioning condensation water. Riders then proceeded to the Austin Amtrak station, that while not itself inclusively a green project, represents the public transportation of the future, with routes to Dallas, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio.
The ride continued to ride past the Seaholm Power Plant, where the city is redeveloping the former power plant into a hotel, apartment complex, concert venue, and business park. This is a green project because it is revitalizing the buildings we already have in order to boost new industry. Other highlights included stops at the Whole Foods parking lot where we saw the electric car charging station and the Whole Foods Bicycle repair station both promoting more sustainable forms of transportation.
As the afternoon wore on and the Texas sun beat down and the mercury topped 100, some riders turned toward home before we stopped at the Austin Sierra Club office where volunteers can come and find resources and get involved in sustainable change. Our final destinations were the Texas Capitol building and the downtown MetroRail station the meets the Lance Armstrong Bikeway. The brave dozen or so that made the last stop discussed local cycling clubs and preferred routes—a favorite being to take the MetroRail towards Leander then ride back downtown.
The power of 350.org‘s vision of moving the planet is a goal that is as simple as dusting off your bike and taking it to work, or taking the relaxing trip to Dallas on the train rather than driving the congested I-35. Many people felt the direct power of the sun on the ride and are enthusiastic about the possibility of the City of Austin encouraging rooftop solar as the city’s power source. Beating fossil fuels is a battle won a day at a time, and today's bike ride proved that with strength and enthusiasm.
- Karissa Gerhke, Beyond Coal Apprentice Organizer