Bikers celebrate wheeled transport

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LEWISTON — They came in strollers. They came on skateboards. They came on bikes. Anything with wheels.

And at 1 p.m. on Saturday, they lined up and paraded through Kennedy Park to show that transportation doesn’t have to pollute.

Led by a handful of college students, the riders looped through the park, buffeted by a cool breeze under sunny skies.

The event was the brainchild of New England Climate Summer, a nonprofit group composed of college students who fanned out across New England states to spread the word about green transportation and to raise awareness of climate change.

New England Climate Summer is a summer internship program for college students interested in biking, community organizing, climate justice and a sustainable future. Climate Summer riders travel exclusively by bicycle in small teams across New England, spending about one week in a community before biking on to the next. While in each town, riders connect with community leaders who are actively addressing society’s addiction to fossil fuels by crafting local solutions that strengthen communities.

The Maine team spearheaded Saturday’s bike celebration in this city after hosting a similar event in Portland and, before that, in Biddeford.

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On Sunday, the six Maine team riders plan to pedal to Augusta, where they expect to stay for a week, educating people about their mission, said Katie Herklotz of Blue Hill, the Maine team leader. Herklotz is entering her junior year at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Fla., where she is majoring in environmental studies. In all, the team will visit seven Maine communities, she said.

As they pedal their way through Maine over two months, the students sleep in churches and allow themselves $5 per day for meals, Herklotz said. Grants from other nonprofit groups help with expenses.

The group supplied the 17 children and as many adult riders with decorations for their bikes or other modes of transportation. Professionals from Roy’s Bike Shop talked to the kids about bike safety and gave tips on maintenance. After the parade, kids got help repairing flat tires and oiling rusty bike chains, Herklotz said.

The group also held an “Inherit the Earth” circle to hear from young people what kind of world they wanted.

“We want to get kids into biking to show them it’s a valid form of transportation and show them it’s fun, too,” she said.

cwilliams@sunjournal.com

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