20. Bicycling and Earth Care—Where You Live and Where You Travel

This guide, provided as a public service, was first published in 2009, with many subsequent updates. For additional updates, or if you have questions, please contact us. To return to the portal page of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide, click here.

Riding a bicycle reduces air pollution and noise pollution—and water pollution too (from oil run-off and such things as brake dust, deposited vehicle exhaust, and various automotive fluids). And you bet: bicycling is a meaningful way to help reduce carbon emissions! 

Biking isn’t a sacrifice, it’s fun!  There are so many benefits of biking (see Bicycling Monterey’s “Why Bike?” section). And not least of these is environmental sustainability / caring for the Earth.


Your stamina or schedule don’t allow biking to your destination? Bike-and-ride, using a bus, train, hotel shuttle, or other bike-and-ride options—when necessary, even your personal vehicle. Click here for tips about all of those.

Bicycling Monterey is a volunteer community partner of Monterey-Salinas Transit, and since 2009 we’ve worked closely with MST to ensure accuracy of our tips. Start with Monterey-Salinas Transit: What to do when bike racks on buses are full, or if there’s no rack on an MST trolley. Plus many more MST tips! Youth appreciate the MST summer youth pass.


This section of the Tips for Bicycling Monterey County 20-section guide offers tips to help you…

Be a more environmentally friendly

visitor / eco-tourist — or local resident

Scroll down for some things you can do, besides biking, to be a more environmentally conscious traveler—and things to do right where you live too.  The list includes links to advocacy groups helping to keep Monterey County, and beyond, beautiful. Being close to nature, as you are on a bicycle, inspires safeguarding it!

If biking Highway 1, Big Sur Coast is right for you, first click here for tips.

California Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning
honored bicycling as one way to help keep the air cleaner.


Biking not only benefits their personal health, it benefits the health of their planet too! (Note that helmets are to cover forehead. See tips here.)

Sonoma County resident Jeff Dibble and his friend Irene love traveling to Monterey County’s attractions on their bicycles!

Local resident Jeremy Perez is all smiles,

loving his beautiful neighborhood and helping to keep it beautiful by biking every chance he gets.

Be a more environmentally conscious traveler, or resident

Bicycling is a great way to start. Here are some additional ideas:

  1. Make a contribution to support the work of local bike advocates, e.g., the Bicycling Monterey site and projects. In other parts of California, refer to CalBike’s local partners.
  2. Among sources of inspiration: Cycling for Sustainable Cities.
  3. Tune in to the wisdom of eco organizations such as Communities for Sustainable Monterey County, a coalition of local sustainability groups—e.g., Sustainable Salinas, Sustainable Pacific Grove, and more; see https://sustainablemontereycounty.org/in-your-neighborhood/. CFSMC and their local affiliates host many educational activities and engage in a wide variety of environmental actions. They welcome your participation!
  4. Check out the websites of other local environmental and wildlife organizations and see how you can help—e.g., Monterey County chapter of Surfrider, Monterey Bay area’s Save Our Shores, Ventana Wilderness Alliance, Monterey Peninsula Audobon Society, Ventana Wilderness Society, Ventana Wildlife Society, Ventana Chapter of the Sierra Club.
  5. Headed to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and other popular attractions?  When you’re not biking, use public transportation as often as possible.  Check the bike-and-ride tips on this site. And over half of the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch participants encouraging biking too; click here to learn who, and why.
  6. See “Bike to the Beach–and Care for What You Love” for info on plastics, polystyrene, storm drain stenciling, and more.
  7. Dining at a restaurant and have leftovers?  Or, picking up restaurant carry-out?  Acknowledge those restaurants that are “keeping it green” by complying with local bans on polystyrene/styrofoam.  And put those that aren’t yet complying on notice. How?  Use the Monterey County Weekly’s quick and easy-to-use online “Polystyrene Tracking Sheet.”  (Alternatively, contact the restaurant manager directly.  Making the change may simply have slipped through the cracks on a too-long to-do list.  Most want to do the right thing and will appreciate a polite reminder.)
  8. Seek out locally grown and also organically grown food at our Farmers Markets.
  9. Support Monterey Bay Certified Green Businesses, including these extra bike-friendly certified green spots.
  10. On staycation, or traveling and need lodging?  Ask questions of hotels when making reservations; find out what they are doing to be truly “greener.”
  11. Consider camping now and then.  Camping in Monterey County is an option for many people, and can renew your appreciation for nature.
  12. Plan outdoor activities of all sorts—get out on the bay by renting a kayak, or a wetsuit to go body surfing; go roller skating, running, or walking on the multi-use trail; go hiking or birdwatching in our wilderness areas.  Whatever you do outdoors, being in nature is a great inspiration for safeguarding it!
  13.  Bike to church, mosque, satsang, synagogue, or other place of worship. See “Former ER doc now attending to the health of the planet” for inspiration.
  14. Attending a special event?  Greening the Monterey Jazz Festival shows some ways local leaders work to lessen the carbon footprint of their event. If you’re headed to an event such as Monterey Jazz, the Sea Otter Classic, or a Pebble Beach event,  support their environmental stewardship goals, then go the extra mile.  Bring your own reusable cloth napkins, tableware, silverware, and beverage containers.  Bike all or part-way to the event.  Many offer bicycle valet parking. Have a disposable item?  Look for the recycling bins! Recycle (and whenever possible, reduce or reuse first).
  15. Volunteer with Bicycling Monterey to support bike advocacy in Monterey County.  Or, volunteer with other local bike community leaders.
  16. “HER Helmet Thursdays cuts carbon emissions and costs,” and began because “The Earth can’t wait until we all have enough time.” Click here to learn about the history of the project. Support the businesses and organizations who give discounts, every Thursday, to those who bike or bike-and-ride. Support them even if it’s not a Thursday, even if you’re not on a bike. Why? Because they are doing their part, year-round, to motivate people to use sustainable transportation.

This man is doing double duty to help the Earth:  he recycles as he bicycles.

Another local I’ve often seen out on his bike helping keep the Earth cleaner is Don Williams AKA Lizzardman. Read about him in Tom Leyde’s story in the Monterey County Herald: “Monterey’s clean-up Lizzard.” Some look for “Lizard Man,” so note the spelling; by any name, this veteran continues to serve!

Lizard's Lick Cleanup Monterey

Surfrider volunteers help clean up the beach and raise awareness about the impact of plastics on the ocean.

Please visit the SurfriderMonterey.org website to learn more.

Summary: Among bicycling’s many benefits is protecting the earth, including its oceans. Join Bicycling Monterey’s work to reduce carbon emissions, and reduce oil runoff, brake dust, and other contaminants that flow into the Monterey Bay.

The amount of oil runoff from cars is surprising to many people. Amy Ricard of neighboring San Francisco Bay’s Save The Bay told the Mercury News (12/15/11) that three million gallons of oil and fuel and other car pollutants find their way into SF Bay annually.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s communications director, Ken Peterson, provided some important local history that predates the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and more. Read his piece in the Monterey Herald, 8/24/15, “The battle that shaped Monterey County’s future.” And see “When No One Is Looking: Who cares about climate change?

Soon after moving across the Monterey Bay to my present address in rural Monterey County in 1981, I had the pleasure of talking with Ansel Adams—referred to in Peterson’s story—about our shared love of nature, and our responsibility for protecting it. Adams died in 1984. The critical work that he and others did to preserve nature’s beauty, clean water, and more in Monterey County and beyond is extremely significant. Yet it requires ongoing efforts by people today who are committed to continuing to protect and preserve.

If you love Monterey County and the Monterey Bay, consider how you can best get involved in protecting it for generations to come.

Among the many opportunities to help is by joining the Aquarium in their efforts regarding plastic pollution, climate change, and more.

Here in Monterey County, hundreds of businesses and organizations in 19 local communities are part of a long-term ecology-economy sustainability project to encourage people to bike. Check out the HER Helmet Thursdays discounts: 10th Anniversary HER Helmet Thursdays Guide – Listings as of January 2020
Break free from fossil fuel dependency

Consider too that a nation’s security needs include being less dependent on fossil fuels. Maybe that’s one reason you see so many Defense Language Institute and Naval Postgraduate School students in Monterey out on their bikes, like the man below, seen in downtown Monterey.National security includes less oil dependency

What’s happening in Monterey County…and around the nation

Mayors of the Monterey County cities of Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove,  and Salinas have all signed the U.S. Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. Their support of cycling—aiming for a complete bike network— is one way they take action as signers of that agreement.

Emily Newman smiles because she knows her workplace

is full of people who are doing good things for the City of Monterey, and the Earth.  That bike rack out front of the Solid Waste and Recycling Division’s office is just one small sign of Monterey’s commitment to climate protection.

All local cities want to support visitors’ desires to be more ecologically conscious tourists.  You may contact the City of Monterey and other local municipalities with your ideas and questions.

Tell their traffic engineers or other municipal leaders what you found wonderful about biking here, as well as anything you found challenging, you can help them create better conditions for cycling–and who knows?  Maybe it will help create better conditions for non-cyclists, such as polar bears, too!

Short link to this page: http://bit.ly/BikeForMaEarth