Student ditches car for one year, wins free bike
Pledge part of Take Your Bike to School Day
 

An SF State student won a new bicycle for promising not to drive her car for a year, thanks to a local bicycle shop and a student group committed to fighting climate change.

Art education major Sarah Wang won a raffle held April 26 by ECO Students, the campus group of environmentally conscious students, at the group’s second Take Your Bike to School Day.

To enter the raffle for a new bicycle, Wang had to promise that, if she won, she would ride it instead of driving a car whenever possible for one year, said Suzanne McNulty, ECO Students member and main organizer of the event.

Wang also committed to write regularly about her experiences while riding for a weblog: bikesanfran.blogspot.com. Ocean Cyclery, a bicycle store in San Francisco’s Sunset neighborhood, donated the prize.

The student group drew Wang’s name that afternoon, and she claimed the black Diamondback Transporter—which sells for about $450—the following week, Wang said.

Wang, a sophomore, said she sometimes drove to school but often took public transportation from the Ingleside neighborhood a few miles away. Though she now has to leave the car in the garage, she has no regrets. “I don’t think it’ll be a problem. It’s really convenient riding a bike,” she said.

Wang said she has not ridden a bike since childhood and the new bicycle came with “some parts I don’t know what to do with,” but “it feels great. I’m so grateful. It reminds me of my childhood.”

Winning this prize means a lot to Wang. “I’m willing to go anywhere in the city. I’m willing to write every time I ride. It’s going to change my life a lot. I really need this and it came to me. ” she said.

The Transporter is “a hybrid-slash-comfort bike. It’s a great commuter bike,” said Sabine Taliaferro, co-owner of Ocean Cyclery. The bicycle is perfect for “most people who haven’t been riding since maybe kindergarten,” she said.

This is the second time Ocean Cyclery has donated a bicycle to SF State’s Take Your Bicycle to School Day event, but the car-free condition and commitment to blog is new this time, Taliaferro said. The potential to share Wang’s experiences with students currently unsure about bicycling to school was a major incentive for the store to give away the bike, she said.

Taliaferro said she hopes students will “read about the day-to-day [life of] being an SF State student trying to commute [with a bicycle]. Students can learn what it’s like” from a fellow student’s perspective, she said.

McNulty said ECO Students introduced the car-free commitment idea to the raffle so the event would “have more long-lasting effects than a one-day event…to get people out of their cars, or at least to get one person out of her car.”

A significant number of urban trips require traveling two miles or fewer, and hopefully people can ride their bicycles for those, McNulty said. “There’s the occasional need for a car, but it’s very, very rare,” and riding instead of burning fuel in a car might be an indvidual’s best way to help fight climate change, she said.

“[Wang] was an ideal candidate to win the bike. I do think it found a good home. It served its purpose. What more can you ask for?” McNulty said.

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