Put the Bike Pedal to the Metal

Photo: K. Doyle

by James Boudreau and Jessica Coleman

Biking is an easy way to exercise, cut down emissions, avoid traffic, and lead a happier life

The world is going through a green revolution, but where is Miramonte? Yes, our school has made large improvements in being more conscious about environmental issues, but there is still a long way to go.

A few members of the Miramonte community have taken the initiative to change their lifestyle in order to be green. Biking to school is the ideal step to making Miramonte, as well as the Orinda community, a more environmentally friendly area.

An average of nine bikes park daily on the senior lawn. While this may seem like few people, it is impressive that these students sacrifice comfort in order to be more green.

The benefits of biking outweigh any inconveniences it may cause.

Biking for only 15 minutes a day can radically affect both health and mood. Not only does it improve general fitness, it saves money that normally would be spent on transportation.

History teacher Xavier Frippiat is an avid biker who is famous for riding his bike to school and around campus.

“Anywhere within five miles or less than 25 minutes is ‘ridable’ for most anyone in my mind, especially in a place with a climate like this one, where the sun shines a good three fourths of the year,” said Frippiat.

Frippiat once sent senior Alex Paxton to the library on his bike, claiming that it was a more efficient way to travel across campus.

“I had to go to the library, and Mr. Frippiat told me to take his bike,” said Paxton. “It was during the middle of class, and I didn’t see anyone around campus so it wasn’t embarrassing, it just took less time.”

“I didn’t want to waste his time,” said Frippiat. “There’s nothing more effortless and efficient than riding from Room 442 to the library and back again. Why walk when you can ride?”

Math teacher Cindy Boyko loves riding her bike to school almost every day.

“It feels good in the morning, and I get to get some exercise,” said Boyko. “I bike to school to get away from my kids, and I like to pass everyone when they are stuck at the light.”

Sue Severson, former Orinda Mayor and a current City Council member, has mentioned plans to make Orinda more “bike-friendly.” She believes that it is possible to create more space for bikers on the streets, which would also eliminate traffic.

“Orinda has just adopted a new Walk-Bike-Trail Master Plan to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety around town, especially routes to schools,” said Severson. “The City Council is hopeful to qualify for some grant dollars to begin implementation. One grant recently applied for would expand and improve the Moraga Way pathway entrance to Miramonte High School.”

Frippiat believes that many kids would have the ability to bike to school if not for the traffic on the main roads.

“I can’t understand for the life of me why students at my son’s local elementary school need their parents to drive them to school if they live within half a mile from the school,” said Frippiat. “One reason might be the armada of cars that bulldoze through the neighborhood to drop off their kids, but it needs to change. Bikers and walkers should not have to suffer the tyranny of dashing car drivers.”

Junior Ben Sukys, president of the Miramonte Bike Club, has been an advocate for student progress in the form of biking. Last year, Sukys biked a total of ten miles to and from school daily. The ride took him approximately 15 minutes each day, allowing him to leave his house at 7:48 and stroll into class by the second bell. Now that Sukys has his license, he rarely bikes to school. He admits that biking allows him to sleep in more and takes less time due to traffic.
The part about biking during the week that he does not miss was the hectic stream of cars along Moraga Way.

“Orinda moms should pay more attention, especially to bikers. I’ve almost been hit two times on my way to school. You shouldn’t open your door when you are in the middle of the road, it’s dangerous,” said Sukys.

Local bike shops are trying to influence people to leave their cars at home and use biking as a means of transportation.

Jesse Clarke, employee of local bike shop, the Pedaler, believes that biking is the key to living a happier life.

“Possibly the best part of cycling is the fun experienced while you are out on the road or trail,” said Clarke. “This uplift in your overall mood has a positive healing effect that carries over into the rest of your life.”

Biking is also one of the best ways to help save the environment.

“In addition to the health benefits, cycling is also a great way to combat global warming and road congestion,” said Clarke. “You will be eliminating your carbon emissions typically produced during your commute and you will gain time back in your day by not sitting in traffic jams.”

So if you’re looking for something to do the help the environment, get more exercise, or save a couple bucks, try biking to school one day.

“Riding is an act of empowerment on multiple levels,” said Frippiat. “One might simply consider how the ride puts the day and the world aside and creates a space in one’s mind between the world’s clamor and oneself. There, here, a special sovereignty resides.”