Maumee resident starts Web site to encourage bicycling

John Bisesi and John Bisesi

Biking can save the planet. Thousands of cars on the road waste not only gasoline, but also human energy. That human energy can be used spin the pedals on a bicycle instead of pushing the pedals in a car. This is the belief of Bob Beach, 65, of Maumee, who has been searching for a solution to the country’s pressing economic problems. Beach created the Web site to promote the childhood activity as a means to ride out the current economic situation. On the site, which launched Feb. 23, he suggests that hopping out from behind the wheel of a automobiles and onto a bicycle could be a way to save money and work on correcting other national concerns. ‘The obesity epidemic, the high price of gas, national security in terms of energy and pollution. Those are the four major issues that are coming together to make biking really attractive to a lot of people that haven’t considered it in the past,’ Beach said. Biking could help alleviate stress for individuals who decide to take up the hobby. With the era of cheap gas gone, building up the ability to bike to work or to school could save hundreds of dollars a year. Craig Bell, photography director in the office of marketing and communications at the University, thinks that Bowling Green as a biking community has room for improvements. The downtown area around Main Street does not allow bicycle riding, rollerblading or skateboarding, which hinders those who enjoy getting around town without a car safely. ‘Lower the speed limit even more, bring it down to 15 mph in the center section of town. Parking is a major issue on campus, but people are not friendly to bikes on the racks on campus,’ Bell said. ‘Lanes and areas that are specific for bicycles and safe parking [for bicycles] are necessary to make Bowling Green more bike-friendly.’ Bell lives south of North Baltimore and rides his bike 18 miles to and from the University everyday. According to Bell, the 36-mile round trip takes him about an hour while providing the ‘physical and mental boost that a lot of people don’t get.’ Although Bell has discovered the joy of biking, many adults are not experiencing the benefits. Biking as a widely accepted form of transportation faces an uphill battle in our society. Dave Pickering who owns Cycle Werks bike shop on Main Street agrees with Beach that biking could be useful in today’s society. Although, Pickering admits biking is not accepted as a valid form of transportation in this country. ‘There isn’t much merit to biking right now,’ Pickering said. ‘Our society thinks of [bikers] as queer little folk riding around, getting in the way.’ When asked what it would take for Americans to accept biking as the dominant way to get where they’re going, both Beach and Pickering responded with the exact same response: ‘When the price of gas reaches $10.’ ‘[Biking] will be more for the middle class and lower,’ Beach said. ‘The upper class will have no desire to do this.’ When gas prices spiked to $4 last year, Pickering said he noticed a huge increase in the amount of people coming into his store to inquire about purchasing new bikes. Since then, it has been business as usual. ‘I don’t want to say that I enjoyed having to pay so much for gas, but it was good for me,’ Pickering said. ‘I think it was just a phase people were going through, but most of them weren’t serious about riding for a change of lifestyle.’ For those who already know how biking can positively affect our world, they are living in the ‘future’ of the cycling industry. Bike design technology has made it simple to find the right bike for beginners or experts alike. There are now bikes designed for ease of use and physical comfort. ‘I ride what I like to call the ‘lounge chair on wheels,” Beach said. ‘It’s technically a recumbent bike that is lower to the ground, is easier to go faster and fully supports your back. Mine is powder blue.’ For someone who is trying to help save the planet, Beach is doing it in style. He, like Bell, commutes to work via bike. His career is in marketing and Web design, so the decision to start the Web site promoting cycling came naturally. The site describes to visitors the personal and social benefits of abandoning their cars and getting onto bikes. Today’s economic and environmental situation provides good reasons to make the switch to bikes, he said. ‘The incredible inefficiency of driving everywhere is burning energy at an unsustainable rate, and most of the energy we consume is coming from overseas. The resulting pollution is driving climate change that could alter our lives dramatically,’ Beach said.