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Sierra Magazine
Field Guide: Our Man on a Bike

By Editor-in-chief Joan Hamilton

It's not every writer who is willing to brave the wilds of Manhattan on a bicycle. But Vince Bielski, author of our cover story this issue, does whatever it takes to get the facts. He's written about a wide variety of topics-the CIA, medicine, computers, and the auto industry-in stories off-beat enough for the Village Voice and mainstream enough for PC World.

And he's not afraid to stir things up. After Bielski criticized sport utility vehicles in our November/December 1996 issue, advertisers of these gas wastrels abruptly abandoned our pages. The article cost us thousands of dollars in ad revenue. But we got our reward when magazines and newspapers around the country ran similar stories, and the auto industry began making noises about manufacturing cleaner and more fuel-efficient sport utes.

As Bielski pedaled through three North American cities to research "Two-Wheeled Revolution," he examined a cleaner and cheaper form of transportation-bicycles-and the people most devoted to them. He found a few bike advocates around the country who were doing their cause more harm than good. But many inspired him, like the twentysomething man he rode with in Toronto who has never driven a car, and never plans to. Where Bielski thought city bikers would be full of chest-beating bravado, he more often found humble enthusiasm. "These people are absolutely committed to biking as a wonderful way to get to work," he says. "Most of us don't realize that it's often the best way to commute in a congested city-and you get in shape without having to go to the gym."

Bielski's story goes on to ask daring questions: What if the nation's cities took the needs of bicycle commuters as seriously as those of motorists? What if cyclists had their own safe routes? How many people would then opt for this Earth-saving form of transportation? The possibilities are inspiring: "What I took away from the story," Bielski says, "was the bicycle's potential to transform the urban landscape."

If you read a printed issue of Sierra, take a look at our new paper. Working with our supplier, International Paper, we've increased our post-consumer recycled content from 15 to 20 percent with a custom-made paper that was not available before. Some industry experts predicted that lightweight (38-pound) stock with that much post-consumer content wouldn't hold up on high-speed presses. Thanks to Sierra and IP's efforts, the industry now knows better.


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