Group bikes 18 miles to get groovy
Published: Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 29, 2011 18:09
It was impossible to hear the spokes of their bikes turn in unison on Orlando's busy Colonial Drive, but their statement was loud and clear.
On Saturday, 20 UCF students and alumni took an 18-mile bike ride from the UCF Visitor Center to the Earthdance Global Festival for Peace in hopes of promoting gas-free, clean forms of transportation.
This bike rally, known as Moving Orlando, was part of a much bigger movement called Moving Planet, an event that brought on the creation of 2,000 similar rallies in 175 countries to support lessening the use of fossil fuels on the same day.
Worldwide, more than a million people signed up to ride their bikes, skate, surf, walk, run and dance their way toward a cleaner environment and away from the use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas that, according to scientists, have contributed hugely to the current climate crisis.
The UCF chapter of Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions teamed up with 350.org, the international organization that is responsible for Moving Planet, to put on the Moving Orlando bike rally and raise awareness about the effects of fossil fuels.
350.org is dedicated to lowering the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to 350 parts per million. It is currently at about 390 ppm – the highest it has ever been.
"Our bike ride was definitely a call to action and a step towards raising awareness," said Sebastian Church, co-president of the UCF chapter of I.D.E.A.S. "It was also a great coincidence that we could combine two events [Moving Orlando and Earthdance] so unified in theme."
The UCF bike rally first took riders up Colonial, a street not known for being friendly to pedestrians or the like, to Chipotle, which sponsored the event and gave each rider a free burrito. The last seven miles took them to the Central Florida Fairgrounds, the site of the Earthdance festival.
According to its website, Earthdance is a yearly international event "dedicated to growing an international network of event producers and communities that connect globally and act locally to implement real solutions for peace, sustainability and social justice."
The event has grown rapidly since its 1997 inception and now takes place in more than 500 locations in 80 different countries annually.
"The journey to Earthdance was amazing. We wanted to become part of this fight against fossil fuels and educate others while we were doing it, and I believe we did exactly that," said Chris Castro, 2010-2011 president of the UCF chapter of I.D.E.A.S.
Castro waved a flag with the words "United against fossil fuels" for the majority of the ride to the fairgrounds. Seeing this, many other riders joined the enthusiastic group out of curiosity and soon, the initial 20 riders reached 30.
"That was the coolest part," said Will Chorvat, the I.D.E.A.S. Safe Consequences Coordinator, who followed the group in an electric truck. "We had people that we didn't know join us on the way. I think that was a success in itself."
Once riders reached the Earthdance festival, they were greeted by the heavy thump of house music that was played throughout the night by multiple Florida DJs, an oxygen booth, free samples of health-friendly shakes and snack bars and multiple art installations featuring local artists.
Half of the proceeds also went to a local charity, and many attendees brought non-perishable items that were given to local homeless shelters.
Before they danced the night away, the festival came to a pause at 4 p.m. Everyone in attendance took part in a prayer for peace in synchronized time with thousands of people at Earthdances all over the world.
"I think that events like Moving Orlando and Earthdance are a catalyst to educating others on how to become less reliant on fossil fuels," Castro said. "If we continue to show people solutions and to show them that they need to rally behind this cause, it will happen. We'll be OK."