Bike, Walk, Ride Transit, or Carpool to the First Worship of every month

Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice launched their Travel Lite Challenge the first weekend in October in seven faith groups across town. The first worship of each month they will continue to challenge one another to reduce their transportation footprint by encouraging worshippers to bike, walk, ride transit, or carpool to church. By May, a month ideal for bike riding, they hope many congregants will be converted to the pleasures of healthy, economical,and low-carbon transportation to worship!

The Interfaith Alliance learned that UC Davis had worked diligently with its entire staff and workers so that now only 25% arrive at work with only one person in a car. By creatively dissolving the barriers that kept workers in their private cars, they succeeded in getting 75% of them biking, walking, carpooling, or using transit.

Motivations to Travel Lite

The City of Davis has a similar campaign to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of its workforce. Both groups emphasize the health benefits of walking and biking and the financial benefits of reducing gas and car maintenance bills.

Not to be outdone, the Interfaith community took up the challenge, adding a third compelling reason to travel lightly: the peace of mind of doing what is right for the care of God’s Creation. It’s simply the moral thing to do.

a third compelling reason to travel lightly: the peace of mind of doing what is right for the care of God’s Creation. It’s simply the moral thing to do.

A fourth motivational reason soon emerged: Which church can claim the highest CO2 emissions reductions overall by the end of May to win the friendly competition! Kristin Heinemeier of the Lutheran Church of the Incarnation claims, “We have a the advantage because we’ve already had Cycle Second Sunday in place for a few years,” but Davis Community Church, Davis Friends, St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Church, St. James Catholic Church and United Methodist Church are determined to overturn their lead.

The planning committee put together a monthly log page, sample church bulletin items ranging from Biblical references to invitations and encouragements, and a blessing for the bikes, while Judy Moores created a logo depicting a parade of folks heading for church on the all-faith bus, in an electric carpool, on foot, by wheelchair, and on even a pogo stick. Appropriately, a winged bicyclist leads the procession.

DK advocates for bike safety.
DK teaches bike safety even as he promotes biking.

“You can work small miracles as you lead your congregations on the path to low carbon, fulfilling transportation options,” our Davis Biking and Pedestrian Coordinator DK, alias David Kemp, assured the committee. If we’re lucky, he may make an appearance some first Sunday as he did at the Cool Davis Festival, dressed in his dashing cape and riding his beloved bicycle, ready to teach bike safety and guide us to our biking futures.

Travel Training for Senior Citizens

DK urged us to promote the city Travel Training program offered at the Senior Center on October 19th. We put up tri-fold posters at the various places of worship and talked to senior congregants who have come up against a simple fact of life: eventually they have to stop driving. But in Davis that doesn’t mean they have to be trapped at home, say city officials. The workshop explored three options that work for Travel Lite to worship and the rest of the week, too: mass transit like Unitrans, paratransit like Davis Community Transit, and even plain old bicycles. The training is offered every 6 months to help folks get over their fears of the unknown so they can enjoy life more.

Members of Davis Friends Meeting attended the training day. “Believe it or not, I think it’s been 40 years since I’ve been on a bike,” Nan Rowan said after riding smoothly around the parking lot on a traditional bicycle. She considering buying a helmet and getting back into riding a bicycle now that her biking confidence is restored.

Ken Bradford, of Ken’s Bike and Ski, and DK both extolled the many benefits of cycling as a way of getting around.

“Bicycling makes for healthier people,” Bradford said. He added that his mother rides a trike all over town – even to church “in her church clothes.”

“She still has her freedom,” he noted. “And it’s good to keep your freedom.”

“It’s all about keeping your health and living your life to the fullest,” added Kemp.

“It’s all about keeping your health and living your life to the fullest,” added Kemp.

The Best Travel Lite bargain

There are other reasons to Travel Lite, too. Knowing that 40% of our daily trips are within 1-2 miles of our homes, and transportation is the highest area of ghg emissions for Davis residents (vehicles produce 51% of the ghg emissions for a typical household) compared to home energy and consumption (food print, waste, and purchases), compelled the Interfaith Alliance to develop the Travel Lite Challenge. A car driven by a solo driver contributes 1.15 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile, though a hybrid drops that to .6 pounds. On the other hand, a carpool with 3 occupants only contributes .4 pounds of CO2 per mile per person. A transit bus ¾ full adds .3 pounds of CO2 per person.

By far the best bargain for humans and the planet is carbon-free walking and biking. For a 125- pound person, 15 minutes of walking uses up 71 calories and 5 minutes of biking consumes 28 calories, to say nothing of reducing stress, lowering blood pressure, and increasing flexibility.

“We can all take turns driving one another in a carpool, cutting our carbon footprint and getting to know one another at the same time!”

Bargain plus

Stephanie Carucci discovered a hidden extra benefit of carpooling to church. At Davis Friends they put up a map with push pins nearby for people to mark where they live.

“We can all take turns driving one another in a carpool, cutting our carbon footprint and getting to know one another at the same time!” Stephanie said enthusiastically.

Blessing of the bikes at St. Martins Episcopal Church
Blessing of the bikes at St. Martins Episcopal Church

And a Blessing

At St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, they blessed the bicycles the first Travel Lite Sunday.

Celebrant: Present in a world groaning under the excesses of consumption, we acknowledge the inherent goodness of non-motorized, human- powered transportation and give thanks for the simple beauty and utility of the bicycle.
People: God of life, hear our prayer.
Celebrant: Present in a community filled with children, we pray for those learning to ride. Keep them smart, safe, and visible on their neighborhood roads.
People: God of life, hear our prayer.

The Travel Lite Challenge to Worship is open to all faith groups. The model could easily be adapted to businesses as well, say: Friday Travel Lite Challenge.

Check www.cooldavis.org/faith groups/ for resources. Contact info@cooldavis.org for questions.