Last weekend, over a thousand Charlotte citizens turned out for a cancer fundraiser styled as a 24 Hour bike ride. Participants were encouraged to ride with a team, and many organizations and businesses were represented. Duke Energy’s team was present, as was team Bank of America in matching red and blue spandex.
This year, as the bankers hopped on their bikes, they rode alongside team Roll Against Coal!, an intrepid group of Charlotte-based RAN members out to raise public awareness of coal pollution and money for cancer research at the same time.
Long outdoor bike rides are often hazardous to the health of Charlotte residents, thanks in large part to air pollution from four coal-fired power plants that ring the city. Last year, coal-fired power plant pollution contributed to 24 bad air days that endangered Charlotte’s children, the elderly, and neighbors with asthma. Our team of biking activists carried this truth onto the bike route, with decorated bikes and tunics reading
As the field of cyclists zipped around the three-mile route, many stopped for refreshments at RAN’s lemonade stand, where we were happy to serve up some coal-free lemonade (99% juice!) with a side of truth. Over a hundred cyclists stopped to talk with us about coal’s assault on public health, from air pollution in Charlotte, to cancer rates that are twice the national average in the moutaintop removal coalfields of Appalachia.
Upon learning that Bank of America is the leading funder of coal pollution in the United States, dozens of doctors, surgeons, and even Bank of America employees signed letters to the bank’s CEO Brian Moynihan, calling for an end to coal funding. Every cyclist we spoke to agreed: instead of financing the coal industry to pollute air and water near mine-sites and coal plants across the country, it is time that Bank of America prioritize health and clean, renewable energy investments. To make sure Bank of America got the message, our team delivered letters to several bank executives who were present at the bike ride.
We believe that all people deserve clean air, clean water, and healthy lives. If our society is ever to end cancer and truly safeguard public health, we have to end our dependence on dirty and dangerous energy. It is time for Bank of America to stop funding coal’s cancer and aggressively fund the renewable energy cure.