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Michael Bagdes-Canning rode 200 miles on a bike to make a point.
“We have horrible climate policy in Pennsylvania,” the activist from Butler County said. “I have grandkids. I want them to have a livable future.”
Bagdes-Canning is one of five riders and two support people who rolled into Philadelphia Wednesday as part of a “Tour de PAC,” a 300-mile bike ride across Pennsylvania organized by the activist coalition Pennsylvania Action On Climate (PAC).
Michael Bagdes-Canning from Butler County, a rider on the climate bike read team, on the Schulykill River Trail in Philadelphia on September 27, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
Over the past week, the tour has passed through places including Grove City, Washington County, and Clairton. The group considers these “front-line communities,” or communities among those most exposed to environmental hazards.
“We’re just seeing the harm happening in all these different ways,” said Shannon Frishkorn, an activist with a direct action group called Ohio Valley Environmental Resistance in Pittsburgh. Frishkorn referenced a recent study that found kids living near shale gas activities in southwestern Pennsylvania were at higher risk of lymphoma.
Shannon Frishkorn, a rider on the climate bike read team from Pittsburgh, Pa., on the Schulykill River Trail in Philadelphia on September 27, 2023. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)
While traveling, the cyclists have stayed in community members’ homes, slept in churches, and even camped outside in the rain. They’ve talked with local activists fighting fracking, plastics plants, and landfills.