Climate & Energy Lifestyles

Alternative energy advocate pedals cross-country in “Ride for Renewables”

Tom Weis in his “rocket trike” during his 2,500-mile ride to promote alternative energy. Photo courtesy of Tom Weis.

By Chelsa Lewis-Bevel, CG Lifestyles and People

There are plenty of environmental problems, but most, including America’s reliance on fossil fuels, remain unsolved. Longtime renewable energy advocate Tom Weis of Boulder, Colo. decided to take matters into his own hands this summer the only way he knew how.

With over 20 years of environmental and political organization experience, Weis devised a plan to bring awareness to America’s need for renewable energy. That plan became Ride for Renewables, a cross-country bicycle tour to attract attention to environmental causes and promote alternative energy.

Weis’ ride spans roughly 2,500 miles from his hometown in Boulder to Washington, D.C. He launched the ride at the U.S. Department of Energy‘s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. on Sept. 12. His will end the ride at the White House.

Weis chose Washington, D.C. as his destination because he plans to meet with policy makers who share his views on renewable resources, including members of Congress and President Barack Obama. Weis’ itinerary includes many stops, including some in the coal fields of Appalachia.

When College Green interviewed Weis, he was in Liberty, Ind., about half of the way to his final destination. As of Nov. 8, he was in Cincinnati.

“I will be spending most of my time visiting and celebrating the success stories of renewable energy and efficiency projects as motivating examples of the choices already being made by local communities to realize this homegrown green industrial revolution,” Weis wrote before he began his trip.

Additionally, the trip includes visits to sites of environmentally harmful practices such as mountaintop removal and coal mining.

He is sponsored by major organizations such as AllEarth Renewables and Greenpeace, among many others.

Weis is making the trek in a contraption he calls “the rocket trike,” a three-wheeled recumbent bike encased in a yellow carbon fiber shell. The vehicle is 90 percent human-powered. The other 10 percent comes from an electrical assist motor attached to the shell, making the trike a very eco-friendly mode of transportation.

Weis dubbed his cause the “modern-day green energy moon shot.” He compared his ride, which he said is a movement to bring awareness and change to environmental issues, to the American moon-landing in 1969. President John F. Kennedy’s historic moon shot speech 48 years ago created a strong bond among the American people and political leaders during that time. If Americans can match that same determination in a campaign for renewable resources, it would make a big difference, Weis said. Weis set out on the 48th anniversary of the moon speech.

He said one of his goals is to get people to stop thinking about alternative energy as a political issue. He said there has been a “lack of vision and lack of ambition” that have stunted political talks regarding alternative energy. Congress has been doing nothing to address the rising energy crisis, Weis said, and there has been no other strong leadership in Washington, D.C. on the issue.

“Let’s put party affiliation aside, and put American people first,” Weis said.

Weis said that, if his journey is successful, it will be “a call for political leaders to embrace and push for 100 percent green energy by 2020.”  He said they can do that by “demanding a green industrial revolution.”

“We need to liberate America from foreign oil and focus energy on the wind industry,” Weis said. In addition to calling out congressional leaders, Weis also asked leaders of the solar and wind industries to step up and be bold.

By promoting his ride, Weis has been informing many people about America’s looming energy crisis and the possibilities of renewable resources. As he pedals through town after town spreading the word, Weis has been asking people to sign a petition called “100% by 2020,” that he plans to present upon his arrival in Washington, D.C.

The petition can be found in electronic form here.

Weis has been gathering feedback from citizens during his journey.

“Almost everyone agrees that we need a goal like this for America by 2020 … it’s possible, very possible,” he said.

He will soon know whether America’s political leaders share his opinion.


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