It's not every writer who is willing to brave the wilds of Manhattan on a
bicycle. But Vince Bielski, author of our cover story this issue, does whatever
it takes to get the facts. He's written about a wide variety of topics-the CIA,
medicine, computers, and the auto industry-in stories off-beat enough for the
Village Voice and mainstream enough for PC World.
And he's not afraid to stir things up. After Bielski criticized sport utility
vehicles in our November/December 1996 issue, advertisers of these gas wastrels
abruptly abandoned our pages. The article cost us thousands of dollars in ad
revenue. But we got our reward when magazines and newspapers around the country
ran similar stories, and the auto industry began making noises about
manufacturing cleaner and more fuel-efficient sport utes.
As Bielski pedaled through three North American cities to research "Two-Wheeled
Revolution," he examined a cleaner and cheaper form of
transportation-bicycles-and the people most devoted to them. He found a few bike
advocates around the country who were doing their cause more harm than good. But
many inspired him, like the twentysomething man
he rode with in Toronto who has never driven a car, and never plans to. Where
Bielski thought city bikers would be full of chest-beating bravado, he more often
found humble enthusiasm. "These people are absolutely committed to biking as a
wonderful way to get to work," he says. "Most of us don't realize that it's often
the best way to commute in a congested city-and you get in shape without having
to go to the gym."
Bielski's story goes on to ask daring questions: What if the nation's cities took
the needs of bicycle commuters as seriously as those of motorists? What if
cyclists had their own safe routes? How many people would then opt for this
Earth-saving form of transportation? The possibilities are inspiring: "What I
took away from the story," Bielski says, "was the bicycle's potential to
transform the urban landscape."
If you read a printed issue of Sierra, take a look at our new paper. Working
with our supplier, International Paper, we've increased our post-consumer recycled content from 15 to 20 percent with a custom-made paper that was not available before.
Some industry experts predicted that lightweight (38-pound) stock with that much
post-consumer content wouldn't hold up on high-speed presses. Thanks to Sierra
and IP's efforts, the industry now knows better.