Have you ever thought, sure, I love riding my bike, and it’s environmentally conscious, but couldn’t it do more? Couldn’t it somehow… save the Earth?
Surprise! It can! Sort of!
Rock to Rock is one of the annual events which makes New Haven special. Beginning on the morning of Saturday, April 24th, it’s an Earth Day Ride that originally began as riding your bike from West Rock to East Rock while raising money for charity. This year, there are 25 nonprofits trying to raise money and every single one of them is working towards a noble goal, often inspired by the environment.
Although the event is called “Rock to Rock” (get it?), there are several different routes or activities you can choose. The scope of the event has expanded far beyond the originally West-to-East-Rock bike ride.
The Family Friendly Ride, which is going to take place in Edgewood Park this year, is designed for families and is a safe option for young or inexperienced riders. Another route is the 20 mile ride, which travels from West Rock to Sleeping Giant, and to East Rock. If you are a super serious cyclist then you can go for the Metric Century route (that’s 100km for our American readers).
A new option for this year is a nature walk in East Rock Park. Instead of riding your bike you can do some birding. You can walk and still contribute to some amazing nonprofits. Now when someone asks if you did Rock to Rock you can say “Yeah and I saw all kinds of bluejays and cardinals” and they can stare at you like there’s something wrong!
Any of these nonprofits are a great choice for donation or raising money. Common Ground and Solar Youth run environmental education programming for young people, educating all ages on the importance of environmental preservation. Inspiring Connections Outdoors (ICO) is committed to getting people from minority groups outside and enjoying nature. The Urban Resources Iniative (URI) plants trees in New Haven for free and gives people a “green” job, or a job that helps the planet.
Outside of strictly environmental issues, Columbus House provides shelter serving the unhoused community in New Haven, and Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) also serves meals to the hungry in New Haven.
Rock to Rock, being an Earth Day Event, does tend to focus on environmental issues that connect us all. A number of these nonprofits focus on the relationship between our community and the environment. Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, Citizens Campaign Fund for the Environment and Save the Sound are organizations that focus on environmental activism, fighting to change laws that affect the environment.
During your typical, non-pandemic year, a large crowd of people block off the streets and bikes stream past in an endless parade: The one day of the year there are more bikes on the road than cars.
This year, it’ll be more like a trickle than a stream, but getting on a bike and enjoying the beautiful New Haven spring will just have to make do as any other year’s gigantic ride.
Even in a typical year, nonprofits struggle with money, and in this year, it’s harder than ever. All of these nonprofits have missions that make our city, and the lives of people around us, better. So now, more than ever, it’s important to participate in a way that gives back to our community.
This year, I’ll be riding for Common Ground. What nonprofit are you going to ride for?
You can sign up for Rock to Rock here: https://www.rocktorock.org/