This past summer the Utah Conservation Corps (UCC) created the nation’s first pedal-powered bike crew that used cargo bicycles as their sole means of transportation. The project challenged both UCC staff and Corpsmembers to break out of the traditional model of using motor vehicles for transportation.
The UCC staff is committed to reducing the organization’s carbon footprint and believes that initiatives like the Bike Crew help push the conversation about what other Corps and similar organizations can do to become more environmentally friendly. Can you complete environmental conservation projects without using (or using less) fossil fuels? Can a crew complete a project after arriving to a project site a half-day later, more hungry and more exhausted than they would be had they driven? The UCC Bike Crew provided an enthusiastic “yes” to both of these questions.
Over the course of the summer, the Bike Crew traveled over 350 miles using only cargo bikes to transport themselves, tools, food and camping gear. The four crewmembers improved 2.22 miles of trail at East Canyon and Deer Creek State Parks.
The Bike Crew participants not only received training in traditional conservation project skills – like chainsaw use and wilderness medicine – but also received training in bicycle maintenance and safe route planning. Overall, the Bike Crew provided an especially empowering term of service.
“It was a bonding experience when you were riding because it was a difficult process of riding and just getting to the worksite. But we were doing it together” said Crew Leader Jessica Gibbons.
The Bike Crew gained media coverage and received support from major companies like Black Diamond, Clif Bar, Hammer Nutrition, Keen and Pro Bar for food, boots and camping supplies. The initiative is now a point of pride for UCC staff in demonstrating their commitment and efforts to continue the legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps.