Cycling to Greener Living: Elma Resident Turns to Cycling as His Primary Transportation

Jan 29, 2020

Cycling to Greener Living: Elma Resident Turns to Cycling as His Primary Transportation 

January 29, 2020

by Shelly Ferullo, Staff Reporter

Here we are at the start of a new year, and everywhere you look people are following a low-carb diet and hoping that this time it sticks. However, Elma resident Andrew Hartley has been following a “low-car” diet for years, and he is hoping that others will follow his lead.

“I am promoting bicycling to pretty much anyone who will listen. Transportation is our largest, single source for carbon emissions, and we definitely can make a difference in our environmental stewardship by riding bikes instead of cars,” he said. “I am cycling just about daily and minimizing my car use, and I have almost eliminated my air travel.”

Hartley has been choosing to ride a bicycle over driving a car for years. He currently works as a statistician for a pharmaceutical company that is based out of Wilmington, NC. Most of his work can be completed at home, but every once in awhile, he needs to spend some time in the office. 

When that happens, he rides his bike to get there.

Elma Resident Andrew Hartley begins to pack up his bike for a long journey to North Carolina.

“For a few years I was bicycling between Wilmington and here to work here in the winter, and there in the summer, but I moved here year-round in 2018,” he said. “I worried that such a move would end the bike tours to North Carolina; however, in early 2019, my company asked me to participate in a series of meetings in Wilmington and Raleigh.”

So, he hopped on his bike and went.

That bike trip was roughly 1,500 miles and it took over seven days to complete. Sometimes Hartley camps overnight during these journeys and other times he stays with friends. When he camps, he sleeps in a hammock.

“It is much more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. You get to put your feet up and massage the legs after a long day of riding, and it takes the lactic acid buildup out of your legs.”

When he is at home in Elma, he rides his bike to get to church on a regular basis, and once a month he rides his bike to get to the Veterans Hospital in Buffalo.

“Training for those trips helps me preserve a good physical base for longer, touring trips,” he said.

Sometimes on the bicycling journey to North Carolina, Andrew Hartley would stay with friends. Other times, he would camp and sleep in a hammock.

Hartley developed an interest in bicycling when he was growing up in East Aurora. In high school, one of his friends asked him to cycle with him to Allegany State Park to go fishing. This was the longest bike ride he had ever taken, and looking back, he realized that he didn’t train his legs properly for that trip.

“By the end, I could barely push my pedals,” he recalled. “But the weather and fishing were great and I was hooked on touring after that.”

Hartley does own a vehicle, but he only uses it a few times a month for when he needs to shop for larger items. The rest of the time he rides his Surly bicycle. In the winter, he uses wide snow tires that have studs to grip the ice and snow. He also owns a variety of racks for his bicycle that he can attach items for his longer rides. 

Hartley believes that climate change is the most serious long term threat that exists to humanity and civilization, and the current rate that resources are used for transportation by planes and vehicles is not sustainable. He tries to influence others to use their bicycles for transportation more often by talking about the health benefits that it offers and talking about common misconceptions in bicycle safety.

“Many people shy away from cycling over fears of getting run over by a car, but I think that it is overblown in some cases and it is a lot safer than people realize,” he said. “Even if my cycling were to increase my personal risks, which is much in doubt, it reduces the harms borne by humanity in general, including the effects of climate change, poor health, air pollution, injuring others in traffic accidents, and natural resource depletion.” 

When he’s on the road, he prefers when streets have bicycle lanes that are alongside lanes for vehicles. He prefers when the two lanes are separated, as they are in other areas of the country, but wide shoulders on the road are good for experienced bikers as well. 

Junior cyclists, like children, benefit the most from bicycle paths.

“The difficulty with those is that they are usually bumpy, and they need to be routinely cleared out from glass, sticks and other debris that can lay along the path,” he said. 

Hartley also focuses on the overall health benefits when he talks to others about cycling.

“For nearly my entire adult life I have enjoyed great health, taking far fewer than the average number of sick days from work and maintaining my weight in the center of my healthy range,” he said. “I think that if more Western New Yorkers replaced most of their car miles with bicycle miles, our overall health would come closer to that of the Nordic countries. The choice between bikes and cars seems easy: biking puts money in the wallet and helps take fat off one’s bones, whereas cars take money from the wallet and help put fat on the bones.”

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