This was in the winter of 2002, and not everyone was confident that they were for real. Would they last one winter? Was it even possible to haul trash by bicycle? Wearing wool mitten liners and large leather airforce mitts she got on Ebay, Ruthy along with Alex were able to bike through the harsh New England winter and quickly learned to pick up trash with what felt like lego hands. They not only survived, but gradually Pedal People has grown to include thirteen Pedal People hauling trash for 500 households, businesses and even the city of Northampton, all without noise or pollution and powered by human energy. Ruthy has never owned a car. A car, by its speed and metal hulk, has always felt like a barrier between her and her environment. On her bike there is no barrier, people can see her and interact with her. Traveling by bike, it's only natural to engage in conversations with pedestrians, shop owners and friends. Especially if you're on a slow-moving bike hauling eight to twelve bins of trash. Connections are made and relationships
"I biked 11.5 miles. My favorite stretch was coming back up the bike path on my 2nd (and last) run; It was peaceful and beautiful but also really slow today because there was a little fresh snow. The snow on the path doesn't go away as fast as snow on a regular road because there isn't the heat from the cars to speed up the melting." -
built when people can see each other. Over the past seven years, Pedal People's relationship with the community has grown stronger. The more people they meet, the stronger their connection grows. Northamptonites will often cheer them on as they go down Main Street. Households are more conscious of their trash. They have also seen the number of winter bikers in Northampton increase markedly over the years, and they make themselves available to teach others about bike maintenance, and to share their story with their community.
"I traveled maybe 20 miles today. It is easy to be mad at drivers, or at customers who have crazy junk. But I am very impressed by 'good' customers who have so little waste. I get giddy if they have hardly any recycling and maybe one grocery bag of trash for a whole week. It is hard to deal with staying hydrated when you are so rarely near a bathroom or in semi-private areas. There is always a lot of trepidation about going out in miserable weather and how warm or dry you will be able to stay."
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