Keith Hermanstyne loves to visit national parks. He travels to see them many times per year, and he worries that increasingly extreme weather will, as he says, “prevent future generations from experiencing the natural wonders that these parks provide.” That should be a real concern for any of us who treasure our national parks according to the National Parks Service:
“Today's rapid climate change challenges national parks in ways we've never seen before. Glaciers are retreating at an unprecedented rate, increasingly destructive storms threaten cultural resources and park facilities, habitat is disrupted—the list goes on.”
Keith is also concerned about how rising sea level changes can affect coastal parts of the United States, as he grew up in Brooklyn and currently lives in the Bay Area. He’s also seen the impacts of climate change in the several years of recent droughts throughout California, and the North Bay wildfires, which have shown how a lack of rainfall can cause devastating effects in terms of property destruction, injury, and loss of life. He has also had friends and family affected by major storms including Hurricanes Harvey and Sandy, “and the increasing strengths of these storms worries me.”
According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), which is one of many great beneficiaries of Climate Ride, that worry is more than justified. The UCS reports that Harvey brought so much rainfall that the National Weather Service had to add “two more shades of purple to its rainfall maps to effectively map Hurricane Harvey's rainfall amounts.” Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, but that distinction will likely be forfeited soon if we don’t take action on climate change. Current projections have the frequency of high-intensity hurricanes doubling by the end of the century “with the western North Atlantic experiencing the largest increase.”
Cycling–A Cure for the Climate
Where many people feel immobilized by projections like those, Keith is stepping up. He’s joined Climate Ride California North Coast because, not only did he want to push himself physically, but he was also really drawn to the idea of supporting efforts to stem climate change and improve transportation advocacy for cyclists and all commuters.
Keith first learned about Climate Ride last year when he joined the Bike East Bay Climate Ride team on their training rides. He was looking to challenge himself in cycling and wanted to see how he would fare on long distance rides. He felt like riding with a group would give him the motivation to train. The training rides turned out to be a lot of fun despite them being physically challenging, and when one of the Bike East Bay volunteers mentioned signing up to do Climate Ride this year, he decided to do it.
Keith works as a psychiatrist, and he mentioned that physical activity like cycling can have many benefits in terms of improving mood and anxiety. He has personally experienced how cycling can work as a stress reliever and mood booster. He also points out that cycling is more than just a preventative measure to fight climate change. Extreme weather like droughts, wildfires, and flooding not only have immediate and horrific effects on people (for example loss of housing and morbidity/death) but they can also lead to long-lasting trauma that can have devastating psychological effects. Cycling has the potential to help mitigate that trauma for the people impacted.
Pedaling for Bike Coalitions and his Friends and Family
In part, that’s why Keith is supporting Bike East Bay. Besides helping the climate by creating viable alternative means for low emission transportation, he’s a fan of their extensive work in improving cycling safety in the East Bay, supporting protected bike lanes, and improving access to cycling for minority riders. He is also a member of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and appreciates this organization's social justice orientation towards cycling advocacy. Additionally, he’s supporting Bike New York and the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition on account of the extensive time he’s spent living in both NYC and LA.
This is Keith’s first major fundraising ride, so he’s eager to meet other riders who are as passionate about fighting climate change as he is. He also “can't wait to take on the physical challenge of riding over 50 miles/day over several days in a row; this will be the most intense athletic experience that I have ever faced.” Another one of his main motivators is that so many of his friends and family members have supported his Climate Ride effort, so knowing that they are encouraging his participation keeps him excited about training and stoked for the upcoming challenge of the ride.