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Better World Club

But don't forget your phone. Photo by Mary Reed.

In 2009, an estimated 50 million motorists will be eligible to receive roadside assistance through their membership in AAA. What they will also receive with that membership is an organization that lobbies for roads, cars and gasoline while lobbying against public transportation, bike paths and the Clean Air Act.

Fortunately, there is a little-known alternative, Better World Club, the nation’s only “environmentally friendly” auto club, established in 2002. “Our mission is to be consumer sensitive … we were open to doing bike service from the beginning after speaking with members and environmental groups,” says Mitch Rofsky, BWC President (and former Ohio Cub Scout).

How it differs. Like AAA, Better World Club offers 24/7 nationwide roadside assistance coverage. But BWC has differentiated itself by voicing its support for the Clean Air Act, the McCain-Feingold Act (meant to combat global warming) and higher fuel economy standards. The company donates 1 percent of its revenue to environmental cleanup and advocacy groups - $35,000 so far.

And then there’s BWC’s support of World Naked Bike Ride (worldnakedbikeride.org).

Bike Assistance. Better World Club offers the nation’s first roadside bike assistance program, and somewhere between 10-15 percent of their 30,000 members have signed up for it in 50 states. BWC bike assistance response time averages 42 minutes. “You have to be accessible to get to by truck but it shouldn’t be a problem,” says Mitch, meaning no problem for road bikers, but don’t expect someone to hike into the trail to fetch your mountain bike. Roadside assistance for you and your bike will take you 30 miles for free with two service calls per year covered under membership. A fee for additional miles will vary.

Membership includes enrollment into the League of American Bicyclists, subscription to Bicycle magazine and discounts and special offers on gear and travel.

Better World Club is no longer the only auto club to offer bike assistance – as of 2009, AAA has added it … in two states.

Other services. BWC also offers travel agency services that are green, including discounts on hybrid car rentals. The company offers a carbon offset program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions for clients who purchase airline tickets through BWC. You can also get discounts for “green” hotels and for tours with BWC’s partner eco-travel companies.

Better World Club is building up Better World Club 2.0, a site that will allow members to ask and answer questions about vehicles, travel and money-saving tips. Better World Club 2.0 will have travel logs, itineraries, videos and photos. BWC is also currently involved in bike advocacy for new ways to separate bikes and automobiles because of the risk to cyclists from competition for lane space.