Since taking on the role of Metro’s Earth Day guest editor in 2010, actor and environmentalist Matthew Modine has remained committed to sustainable living and encouraging others to make positive choices to reduce their impact on the planet. As a young surfer and lover of the outdoors, Modine became passionate about environmental concerns at an early age. An avid New York City cyclist, Modine launched the environmental nonprofit Bicycle for a Day to empower individuals to rethink their mode of transportation and start riding a bicycle to curb their consumption of natural resources.
“If I were asked about one thing to do to improve the environment, my reply would be simple: Ride a bike,” Modine said.
Bicycle for a Day has worked since 2008 to make this an easier choice, by fighting for things like safer bike lanes and citywide bicycle share programs like those in Paris, Montreal and Washington, D.C. Since BFAD was founded, cycling in NYC has gone up by as much as 30 percent. Today, the advocacy group has shifted its focus toward improving bicycle routes in school areas to encourage children to switch to a two-wheel commute.
“If I can get kids to ride to school,” Modine explained, “there is a good chance that bicycling will become part of that young person’s lifestyle.” Besides being healthy for the environment, Modine stresses, cycling is a great form of exercise and can boost overall health at any age.
New York City is rolling out a bicycle sharing program called CitiBike, which Modine hopes will encourage people to give cycling a chance. His own ride is a single-speed kickback break bicycle, which is simple and allows great visibility – “there is no need for a fancy, multigeared bicycle,” he said. Modine also encourages cyclists to ride safely and defensively.
For those who aren’t able to transition to bikes, Modine urges people to contribute to the eco-friendly movement by being conscious of their behaviors. “Remember that whatever you throw away actually goes somewhere,” he said, “There is no magical ‘away’ place. Resources were used to make the things we throw away, and the resources of our planet are finite.”