We Needed It With Sandy & We Will Need It Again: Fluidity, Versatility, & The Spirit Of Service

Bicycles Do Play and Will Continue to Play Major Roles in Disaster Recovery

Hurricane Sandy blew in like a wind out of the netherworld and tore the Northeastern coast apart, affecting the stability, food, water, and shelter of folks in this part of the world, and thus changing the lives of millions of Americans. Some are still recovering from its effects.

Amidst the shock, the confusion, the grief, and the fright of the storm, however, many heroes emerged. The ability to jump in, or rather, bike in and “be there” for victims of Hurricane Sandy resulted in immediate and very real relief. The humanitarian efforts must have made numerous Americans forever grateful.

11/10/12 -- Time's Up! and Occupy Sandy efforts in the Rockaways, bringing food, goods, bike repair, and a bike-powered charging station to the people.
11/10/12 — Time’s Up! and Occupy Sandy efforts in the Rockaways, bringing food, goods, bike repair, and a bike-powered charging station to the people.

In the midst of the disaster recovery, one found many faces on bikes, sharing bikes, facilitating bikes, and bringing in food on cargo bikes. Humanity is s double-sided coin, and one side is pure light. From their neighborhoods — and beyond — came critical supports systems.

Plenty of those heroes were members of active NYC and New Jersey cycling communities.

The League of American Bicyclist has shed some light on how the storm has affected cycling in the Northeast. Jennifer Laurita — a League member, LCI and New Jersey resident — on how she’s been coping with Sandy’s aftermath: “Those of us who cycle already picked up where we left off and many people I know, especially instructors, reached out to as many people around them as they could to encourage cycling to deal with things like gas shortages,” Laurita said.

This disaster was terrible, displacing families, destroying communities. We must always look for light, and as the League of American Cyclists put it, if one looks for a silver lining, one finds one. It is then one begins to understand the utilitarian strength of bicycles and bicycle education, the importance of good bicycle routes, and the value of preparedness for such drama. There is a silver lining in this disaster, or even two — the help bicyclists were able to provide, and the following increase in bicyclists. Ridership in New York City and surrounding areas was not lessened by the disaster, and actually increased form it, whereas other types of transportation (and those dependent on them) were paralyzed for days or even weeks on end.

Cyclists are inherently adaptive. We just see that more in extreme circumstances like Hurricane Sandy created.

There are further disasters coming, from the climate crisis we’ve created and the many unstable environmental changes that come with it. We surely must appreciate and gain advantage of this versatility that bikes bring, this mobility, this relief.

Image Credit: Brennan Cavanaugh (Creative Commons rules apply, please use responsibly.)

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