Putting pedal power to a Capitol purpose
By Shant Shahrigian
Riverdalian Alix Cotumaccio was among an estimated 200 cycling enthusiasts who set out from Brooklyn for Washington, D.C. on Sept. 21.
In a world of armchair environmentalists, she answered a non-profit’s call to bike about 300 miles over five days to spread awareness of environmental issues and meet with congressional staffers at the end of the journey.
“This is the type of experience that melds two of my passions, bicycling and the environment, and gives the platform to do more with it,” Ms. Cotumaccio said.
Climate Ride, which is dedicated to organizing trips on the east and west coasts along with independent journeys, required participants in last week’s undertaking to raise at least $2,400 each for environmental causes.
Ms. Cotumaccio, the assistant director of youth initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History, says she raised $2,500 for the progressive website 350.org and Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit that promotes environmentally-friendly transport policies in New York.
Ms. Cotumaccio and her fellow cyclists rode through rural parts of Pennsylvania and Maryland after leaving New Jersey in order to spread their message among townspeople along their route to the nation’s capitol.
“It was amazing talking to locals walking by going, ‘What’s going on? Why are there all these bicyclists in my neighborhood?’” Ms. Cotumaccio said. “It was very positive. I didn’t meet anybody who said, ‘You guys are crazy. Climate change isn’t happening.’”
Ms. Cotumaccio, who rode a carbon-fiber Specialized road bike, said her group used back roads and trails as much as possible. Their journey took them through Pennsylvania’s Amish country and horse-populated parts of Maryland. “They already are living their lives very minimalistic,” she said of the Amish. “We’re really trying to emulate them.”