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14
Jun
0

Florida Cyclists Pursue Vulnerable Road User Law

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

vrublogFlorida is one of the most dangerous places in the  United States for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Bicycling fatalities are higher in Florida than any other state, and the four most dangerous large metropolitan areas for pedestrians in the country are Orlando-Kissimmee, Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Jacksonville, and Miami. These alarming statistics and everyday worries about the safety of themselves and their children have led concerned Floridian bicyclists to start a petition demanding change.

If you are a bicyclist in Florida please show your support by signing their petition. Started just 48 hours ago, the petition already has more than 225 signatures as of this post’s publication.

Addressing the number of bicyclist fatalities in Florida is our No. 1 point of feedback through our Bicycle Friendly States program – and adopting a Vulnerable Road User law is a great way to begin.

“It’s time to make Florida’s roads safe for all users,” William Davis, member of the North Florida Bicycle Club, told me.

The petition asks Florida’s Governor and Legislature to pass a meaningful Vulnerable Road User law. The law that they propose is based upon the League’s model statute, which was developed through our Legal Affairs Committee. I also recently wrote about these kinds of laws as part of our Bike Law University series.

Christopher Burns, a cycling attorney in Florida and one of the cyclists behind the petition, has seen firsthand how our judicial system can fail cyclists who are injured by motor vehicles.

The League supports Vulnerable Road User legislation because it can address the imbalance between motorists that are protected by thousands of pounds of steel and other road users who are not.

 Interested in advocating for a Vulnerable Road User Law in your community? Read more about out our model legislation here

(Photo credit: Roey Ahram via Flickr).

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Ken McLeodLegal Specialist, Advocacy Advance

Ken joined the League in 2012 after graduating from William & Mary School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Virginia. During law school he worked for a private law firm in Cambodia and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that, Ken worked at a law firm in Orange County and a legal services provider in Seattle. He graduated from Pomona College in 2007 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He began using his bike regularly after college and has been car-free since February 2012.
Original author: Ken
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13
Jun
0

Final Guidance on TAP program: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

On Monday, The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) released its final guidance on the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), and – like the interim guidance released last fall – it’s really a mixed result.

FHWA releases guidance to help State Departments of Transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) interpret the federal transportation law, MAP-21, and let them know what U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) expects. In many cases, states have been reluctant to move forward on TAP because they wanted to make sure their interpretation of the bill was consistent with FHWA’s interpretation.

Overall, we had hoped that the final guidance would be more in-depth and answer more questions than it does. The chart below shows how the new guidance compares to our recommendations back in November.

Now that the guidance is out there’s no reason for States and MPOs to wait to start their process. Also please continue to keep us informed on what interpretations of the guidance you are hearing at the State and local level.  We have been working with USDOT to clarify questions and concerns, and to let them know what guidance needs more guidance!

guidancechartteaser
Click here to view the full chart.

The Good News

Boulevard definition: Under MAP-21, Congress not only combined the dedicated biking and walking program into Transportation Alternatives, they also added in new eligibilities. One we were concerned with was the addition of “planning, redesigning or constructing boulevards…”  The bicycling community was concerned that this meant States could use a significant chunk of TAP to do a new road.

The FHWA guidance mitigates that concern by defining boulevard by using the ITE definition,  of a boulevard (Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares: A Context Sensitive Approach, page 52, Table 4.2. ) and specifically states that a ‘boulevard ‘ project should include traffic calming, context sensitive bike and ped facilities, compliance with accessibility requirements, transit promotion or environmentally sustainable practices.  If a community decides to apply for a boulevard project it should at least be a complete street.

Model MPO competitive grant process: In the interim guidance, FHWA stated that they would publish a model Request for Proposals that states and MPOs could use at their discretion. Instead, they did not do this in the final guidance. Instead FHWA included links to resources on Advocacy Advance’s MAP-21 website as well as to the National Transportation Alternatives Clearinghouse (NTAC) site.

While it would be nice to have model guidance with the DOT stamp of approval, this is pretty close. Advocacy Advance, a partnership between the League and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, will incorporate the new guidance into their resources. Thanks to Advocacy Advance and the MPO working group for their advice.

The Bad

Coburn opt-out: MAP -21 included language that said if, over time, a state’s TAP unspent grow to be larger than one-year’s total TA allocation, then those funds could be used for a variety of things, and not just TA eligible projects.  We had hoped this would be addressed in the guidance, to ensure the state made a good faith effort to spend their TAP funding on what it was intended for.  The guidance doesn’t address it.

Model State competitive grant process: We had hoped the guidance would not only do a model competitive process at the MPO level, but also do one for the state level- including best practices and recommendations on application deadlines, process, and timely obligations for efficient, effective competitive programs.

The Unexpected

Suballocation:  The final guidance is clear that the 50% that goes to the state CAN NOT be suballocated.  This is new and surprising- and not just to us.  A few states had been planning on suballocating all of their TAP funding—and will now have to back to the drawing board.

Landscaping, streetscaping, etc. – There were several Transportation Enhancements eligibilities that are not eligibile under TAP. Under the new guidance, it states that if streetscaping is part of a larger TA project then its allowed.  (ie- if you are putting in a new sidewalk you can do some landscaping/streetscaping as part of that.)  That was expected.

The unexpected piece is that the guidance says these projects “may be” eligible if chosen through a competitive process.  My understanding is that it leaves it up to the MPO or State running that process- but I’m in the process of learning more.

And the WHAT?

Junkyard screening: There are several references to junkyard screening being an eligible use of TAP funding in the new guidance. This is new and unexpected, and given a careful read of eligibilities we don’t see why it is there.  (Luckily this doesn’t rank high in our competitive process suggestions!)

Stay tuned for more information as we learn more and see how the guidance is interpreted.  And as always, please send your questions share your experiences with Advocacy Advance as you work with your local governments, MPOs and States to Navigate MAP-21.

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Caron WhitakerVice President of Government Relations

Prior to joining the League of American Bicyclists in 2012, Ms. Whitaker served as the Campaign Director for America Bikes where she coordinated and implemented America Bikes federal policy agenda. Before that, she worked for the National Wildlife Federation on smart growth, international policy, and community engagement. In addition, Caron served as a Community Land Use Planner for the State of North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, providing technical assistance to local governments and staffing a stakeholders’ council responsible for revising state planning regulations. She has a Masters in Environmental Management for Duke University, Nicolas School of the Environment and a Bachelors of Arts from Williams College.
Original author: Caron
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13
Jun
0

May Winners Announced in the National Bike Challenge!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

NBC_2013_web_button_200x200_022013The National Bike Challenge kicked off on May 1 — that’s almost six weeks of fun, fitness, and pure bicycling joy.

Now, with plenty of miles under everyone’s belts, we’re happy to announce the winners for the month of May — check them out here! Congratulations to these winners, who represent all parts of the country and who will be taking home great prizes like jerseys, bike lights, League memberships, bottle openers and more!

Special thanks to our sponsors: Scott Tissue, Trek, Resource Revival, Better World Club, Mt. Borah, Sierra Nevada and New Belgium Brewing Company. Their support means that we have over 300 awesome prizes to give away to Challenge participants!

Don’t forget to keep logging your miles! And if you haven’t registered yet, do it today and start working toward a prize of your own next month! The prize list and eligibility info can be found here.

To date, the National Bike Challenge has more than 30,000 riders and more than 2,000 teams who have logged more than 5 million miles! Together, we’ve burned 119,379,916 calories – that’s 34,108 pounds!

If you have any questions about the Challenge, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Enjoy the Ride! 

Original author: Liz Murphy
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12
Jun
0

Women Bike Wednesday: Roll Models Gearing Up Female Riders in DC

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

W&B Logo _ CommuterIn February, the League’s Women Bike program was delighted to announce a $15,000 grant for an innovative advocacy initiative that we were confident could be a model for the rest of the nation: the Women & Bicycles campaign created by the Washington Area Bicyclist Association.

Last month, I sat down with Nelle Pierson, WABA’s Events and Outreach Manager, to see learn more about the concept and how the effort is shaping up thus far…

The wheels started turning when Nelle Pierson saw a clear intersection between the now-famous tenets of “The Tipping Point” and getting more women on bikes.

The best-selling book by Malcom Gladwell highlighted the impact of Connectors; people with the interest and ability to spread an idea within their personal circles and create a ripple effect throughout their community. Pierson, the Events and Outreach Manager for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, did a quick mental inventory of her bike friends and had a realization.

“I thought, ‘I have bike friends who represent those personality types, those evangelical people who are prosthelytizing about bikes,’” she recalls. “What if we bring those women together and provide them with the tools they need to really sell it?’”

Nelle Pierson at the start of the May Mothers Day Ride (Photo by Maggie Smith)

Nelle Pierson at the start of the May Mothers Day Ride (Photo by Maggie Smith)

That what-if turned into WABA’s new Women & Bicycles program. In 2011, the local advocacy organization started a community-wide conversation to address the fact that just 23% of area riders are women. To bridge that gender gap, Pierson decided to harness the power of Connectors, building the Women & Bicycle initiative around 10 Roll Models — experienced female bicyclists who want to share the benefits of biking with other women who may be interested in riding but need additional support or community to get them rolling.

“One person who cares really strongly about the issue, who’s sharing events on Facebook, pulling people together, they’re likely the ones who are social and eager to follow-up,” Pierson says. “And luckily, we have a lot of those people in DC!” Within a matter of days, WABA got 22 applications from area women to be Roll Models for the program. But, Pierson realized, even the most enthusiastic needs some sort of structure to channel their passion.

Open House with interested participants and initiative Roll Models (Photo from WABA)

Open House with interested participants and initiative Roll Models (Photo from WABA)

For that, Pierson worked with local advocates to create a first-of-its-kind Women & Bicycles workbook, designed to act, not just as compilation of helpful information for female riders, but as a catalyst for discussion and problem solving. The perfect setting for that kind of conversation? A dinner party, of course! After all, such informal, small group gatherings have proved their commercial and political impact again and again. “The Tupperware party worked,” Pierson says. “It got it in homes of hundreds of thousands of people. Mary Kay, which had a similar model is a multi-billion-dollar organization now. The Obama campaign took advantage of that concept with house parties, too. How do we tap into these approaches to succeed in the bike world?”

Engrossed in the Women Bike workbook! (Photo by Maggie Smith)

Engrossed in the Women Bike workbook! (Photo by Maggie Smith)

It didn’t take long to find out — even the initial meet-ups were a clear success. Roll Models were reaching out through their social, professional and other creative network to engage as many as 20 interested bicyclists. “The dinner and discussion format works really well,” Pierson says. “It’s relaxed and fun, and we’ve routinely gone over time because gals want to hang out and continue talking!”

Successful meet-up / bike shop dinner party!

Successful meet-up / bike shop dinner party!

But the dinner is just the first course — the follow-up and mentorship is just as important. “Roll models are taking greater initiative to recruit mentees, and figure out how to follow-up,” she adds. “Erin has created a Women Biking Listserv, and suggests upcoming events, makes herself available to go to bike shops, and is coordinating her own rides. Angie recruited 20 people for her Meet-up and tailored the information to meet their more advanced needs. Laurie, a co-owner of a bike shop recruited 20 women for her meet-up, and used the event as a catalyst to launch her Women Biking group; a combination of rides, yoga nights, and happy hours.”

Beyond the small groups, the Women & Bicycles program is engaging other women through rides, events and a vibrant Facebook group that’s attracting more than 150 new participants each month. “It’s working,” Pierson says. “From a communications standpoint, we are reaching people and the information that’s being shared is sincere, substantive, helpful and proving the importance of this program.”

Zahra Jilani at the Mothers Day Ride (Photo by Maggie Smith)

Zahra Jilani at the Mothers Day Ride (Photo by Maggie Smith)

And, as it turns out, there are plenty of roll models — both women and men — eager to be Connectors in their circles. “I presented to a group in Fairfax, and everyone wanted the PDF version of the workbook,” Pierson says. “A gentleman said to me, ‘This is really nice — I want it in my bike shop.’ He made a contribution to the program and now his bike shop printing and distributing it.”

Click here to download the PDF version of the Women & Bicycles workbook — and stay tuned for additional resources to roll out a model campaign like WABA’s in your community!

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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12
Jun
0

Webinar: How to Pay for Bicycle Access to Federal Land

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Advocacy_Advance_570If there is federal land located near you, your community is eligible to apply to a new federal transportation funding program called the Federal Lands Access Program, whimsically known as FLAP.

Bicycle and walking trails and other facilities are eligible under the MAP-21, the federal  transportation bill. The goal of the FLAP program is to improve transportation facilities (i.e. public highway, road, bridge, trail, or transit system) that are located on, adjacent to, or provides access to federal lands. FLAP provides $250 million by formula to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

If you’d like you know more, join us for an Advocacy Advance webinar on Thursday, June 13, 200-3:00 p.m. EDT.

You can register here for free.  See our FLAP advocacy guide and state-by-state information, and a write-up on these resources at Outdoor Magazine.

See all Advocacy Advance webinars here.

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Darren FluscheLeague Policy Director

Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.
Original author: Darren
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11
Jun
0

Anchorage Turns League Logo into Public Art

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

sculpture close upWe were certainly excited to roll out our new logo at the 2013 National Bike Summit earlier this year. Honoring our past and looking to the future, we love the iconic energy of the modern winged wheel. But we didn’t imagine that our new logo would so quickly inspire a beautiful piece of public art.

Lori Schanche isn’t just the bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for the City of Anchorage, Alaska — she’s also quite the artist. So, when the city moved up to Silver in this latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community awards, she wanted to make the Bike Month announcement more than just another boring photo-op. So she and Anne Schlapia from the city’s environmental services department started brainstorming ideas for the presentation.

The result: A homemade, bicycle-friendly sculpture.

“I’ve done other art before, and the wheel won out since it’s such a cool logo,” Schanche says. “A local bike shop donated the wheel, and the father of one of my staff helped by taking out the guts and adding the attachment and pole. I cut the wings out of tin flashing and my husband punched holes in them. Then I drew the black on with a really thick marker and tied them on with fishing line. I can also remove the pole and hang it on the wall!”

sculpture

The winged wheel against the backdrop of the soaring mountains? What a sight to behold!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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10
Jun
0

King James Leads the Way: Bikes in the NBA

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

If you’re not already glued to the NBA Finals, here’s one potential reason to tune in: Bicycling among NBA athletes — like almost everywhere else — is become an active trend.

Last year, the cycling Twitterati went nuts over rumored pictures of Lebron James joining Miami’s Critical Mass Ride. Could it be true? Could the #1 player in the NBA also be one of us? The few, the proud, the bicyclists? Answer: Yep!

lebron-james-bike

Not only is the MVP Miami Heat player an avid cyclist, commuting to and from home games, but the Cleveland native also hosts the King for Kids Bike-a-thon in his hometown. You might even call James an amateur advocate: Teammates Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers seem to have also caught the cycling bug, joining him on his cameo appearances at Miami Critical Mass Rides. Rumor has it that James is also a part owner in Cannondale with his custom 29er made by the company.

lebcat

Its easy to understand why this biking trend might be catching on in the NBA. James is a scary player to have to defend against in general, but come 3rd and 4th quarter he’s downright terrifying! And guess what? James credits his late game resilience to the stamina he’s gained from cycling.

Of course, James isn’t the first NBA athlete to make cycling an awesome training and transportation alternative. Here are some other NBA greats past and present who’ve spent some time on a saddle…

Former Portland Trailblazer and NBA champ Bill Walton is probably one of the first NBA players to ride as a part of their training regimen. With stories that Walton rode to Blazer practices during their championship ‘77 season, it’s no wonder that Walton continues to make cycling a part of his post-NBA lifestyle. Checkout this piece on the Bike Portland blog about Walton’s Oregonian adventures.

billwalton

Another NBA superstar and avid cyclist, Kevin Durant takes to cycling not only to stay in NBA shape in the off-season but also to take in the sites in his D.C. hometown. I wonder who’d come out on top in a James vs Durant match sprint.

Kevin-Durant-300x300

Caron Butler — the former Wizard, Maverick and current Clipper — has dipped into the bicycling advocacy waters, promoting alternative transportation on a ride with Denmark’s Crown Prince and some fine folks at some unheard of organization called the League of American Bicyclists. (I heard they have a nice blog.) The ride was also to promote Butler’s Bike Brigade to encourage more children using biking to stay healthy and out of trouble. His work has even gotten a nod from the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award. Who doesn’t love anyone with their own Bike Brigade.

caron League

Yep, that’s League President, Andy Clarke, after his rock dodge loss to Caron

How many players can say they’ve had a bike valet service named after them? The Lou Amundson Bike Valet service ran by the Phoenix Suns was one of the first Bike Valets in the NBA. The current New Orleans player earned that Bike Valet service though, his former Suns teammates and prankster Shaq would often hide his pedal powered mode of transportation to and from the arena during practice. If only the NBA would have bike valet for all their teams. We see you Brooklyn Nets!

One of the most controversial NBA players of his time and also one of the most Twitter savvy, JR Smith also happens to like getting around by bike. The New York Knicks star once organized an impromptu late night/ early morning bike ride thru the Big Apple via a simple social media post: “How many people want to ride bikes with me at 2am instagraming pix?” We like the creativity and love that he gets around New York on an ultra convenient folding bike.

jr-smith-biking-elite-daily

Now that you know some of the awesome players biking the NBA go forth and spread the bike and b-ball love. Who knows? Maybe some NBA players might want to join us for the Bike Summit or Bike Month next year, it might just get them a little further into the playoffs (or in the playoffs in the first place). I’m looking at you Wizards!

Any other local fan favorites you know biking in the NBA?

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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07
Jun
0

Access the Data Gold Mine of the National Bike Challenge

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

NBC_2013_web_button_200x200_022013So your workplace joined the National Bike Challenge, and now that folks are geared up and riding you’re wondering what comes next — or maybe just what’s in it for you!

Yesterday the League hosted a webinar for any workplaces involved in the Challenge to help answer those questions.

Alison Dewey, our own Bicycle Friendly America Program Manager, and Jason Van Dreische, Director of Advocacy and Education for Local Motion in Vermont, reviewed everything you need to know — from how to set up a workplace profile to what types of data you can download.

In case you missed it, the webinar is recorded on the League’s YouTube channel and you can watch it below or on our YouTube page.

.If you have any additional Challenge-related questions, please contact Lili Afkhami at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Katie OmbergEvents and Outreach Manager

Katie joined the League in April of 2010. For the two years prior, she worked at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as a programs coordinator. Katie has a BA in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She enjoys biking to work.
Original author: Katie
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07
Jun
0

New: Interactive Tool to Help You Navigate MAP-21

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Cross-posted from the Advocacy Advance blog

MAP-21. CMAQ. HSIP. STP. 402. TAP.

In federal transportation policy, acronyms are everywhere. Add to that all the different rules and eligibility for the programs, and navigating the new bill can get very confusing very quickly.

What you really want to know is what federal transportation programs will fund your project. Advocacy Advance has created the Find It, Fund It! interactive search tool that will help you do just that. This tool centralizes and simplifies information about funding eligibility in MAP-21, and aims to connect people interested in getting state and local bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure and programs funded.

findit

Want to give it a try? Check it out on Advocacy Advance website!

Original author: Liz Murphy
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06
Jun
0

Advocates and Equity: 3 Success Stories

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Equity report coverLast week, in partnership with the Sierra Club, the League released “The New Majority: Pedaling Toward Equity.” A conversation-starter, rather than a comprehensive analysis, the mini-report highlighted the tremendous growth in bicycling among youth, women and people of color — and showcased the stories of just a small handful of grassroots organizations that are mobilizing diverse communities and elevating new leaders.

But, while the report provided evidence that we’ve begun pedaling toward equity… we’re not nearly there yet.

“For too long,” we emphasize, “many diverse populations have been overlooked by traditional organizations and transportation planners. In too many instances, people of color have been largely left out of transportation decision-making processes that have dramatically impacted their neighborhoods. Rising up in response to this disenfranchisement, new leaders are rallying against stark disparities in bicycling facilities — and safe streets. These organizations aren’t just engaging new communities in traditional campaigns, but opening new avenues of conversation — shifting the focus from bicycling itself to how bikes address the core everyday issues faced in their unique communities.”

That said, as Hamzat and I wrote in an opinion piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this week, there are great examples of advocacy organizations that are partnering with other community-based groups and residents in under-served areas to advance bike equity. Here are just a few examples that we’ve showcased recently on our blog and in our magazine.

We want to hear from you, too: Share what you’re doing by filling out our brief “Women & Equity Survey” here.

Atlanta Bicycle Coalition + Red, Bike & Green = Better Bike Infrastructure

rbg group

Red, Bike and Green- Atlanta

When the City of Atlanta first outlined its ambitious streetcar project, there was a glaring blind spot. Despite being one of the most historic African-American business districts in the country, Auburn Avenue was slated for a mere three blocks of bike lanes in the multi-modal proposal. In response, local organizations Red, Bike and Green, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and SOPO Bicycle Cooperative worked with supportive council members like Aaron Watson to put pressure on local leaders and organizied the Tour de Sweet Auburn bike ride, highlighting the district’s cultural significance and uniting neighbors and business leaders behind the push for better bike access. The event and resulting petition engaged voices usually absent in bicycling advocacy — and soon the City of Atlanta indicated it would include additional bike lanes along the Auburn Avenue corridor.

Read more about the campaign here.

Transportation Alternatives + Recycle-a-Bicycle + 7 Diverse Non-profits = Local Spokes

Local Spokes visioning session

Local Spokes visioning session

Local Spokes is a coalition of nine diverse non-profits based in New York City’s Lower East Side and Chinatown. “Local Spokes was formed in response to a perceived lack of community involvement in the planning process around the growing bicycle movement in New York City, particularly among low-income residents, people of color, immigrant communities, and youth,” two key organizers explained on the League blog and in our magazine last year. “Our coalition was created with intention, in an attempt to add new voices to neighborhood bicycle advocacy in NYC, and to do so by ensuring that community-based organizations are the leaders in the local conversation about expanding bicycling. This means that rather than speaking about and advocating for bicycling itself, bicycling gets discussed in the context of other neighborhood concerns like affordability, housing, health, immigration rights, job training and community empowerment.”

Read more about the campaign here.

Community Cycling Center + Hacienda Community Development Corporation = Andandos en Bicicletas en Cully

Hacienda Bike Educator Training- Photo by Cristina Mihaescu

In 2008, the Community Cycling Center, a community bike shop in Portland, began to seek ways to engage partner communities to influence future bicycle investments to benefit all Portlanders. In conducting a community-based needs assessment — Understanding Barriers to Bicycling — and an organizational equity audit, the Center’s work fundamentally shifted. “Now we focus programs with strategic partners and work in collaboration with residents to develop community-based initiatives that overcome the barriers to bicycling,” Alison Graves, then the executive director of the CCC, wrote in the League magazine in 2012. “One partner, Hacienda Community Development Corporation, builds dignified, affordable housing for immigrant families. In 2009, when we completed focus groups at Hacienda, secure bike storage was the primary barrier to bicycling. In 2010 we formed a bike committee comprised of residents who named themselves Andando en Bicicletas en Cully (ABC), which translates to ‘Riding Bikes in Cully.’”

Read more about the campaign in the League magazine here and download the CCC’s report about the project here.

Of course, there are plenty of other examples, like the Better Blocks campaign from the Active Transportation Alliance in Chicago, and the East of the River campaign from the Washington Area Bicyclist Association. How is your organization working with new partners to address and advance bicycling equity in your community? Share your work in our survey — so we can share your success with others!

And, if you haven’t already, download “The New Majority: Pedaling Toward Equity” and stay tuned for continued conversation on this important topic!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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05
Jun
0

Women Bike Wednesday: Alison Cohen, Bike Share Pioneer

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Women Bike Wednesday is back! With so much focus on our “Where the Ride Takes Us” series — which included plenty of posts from and about amazing women, like Mari Ruddy, Briana Orr, Mary Brown, Kristin Gavin and the Ovarian Psycos— our weekly posts profiling female leaders and women-focused campaigns was on hiatus during a very-busy National Bike Month.

With the high-profile, public launch of Citi Bike in New York City this week, we figured it’s an opportune time to showcase one of the earliest and most notable leaders in implementing and spreading bike sharing systems in the U.S.: Alison Cohen.

Now Director of Bike Share Services for Toole Design Group, Cohen was pivotal in the development of NYC’s Citi Bike, Boston’s Hubway and DC’s Capital BikeShare, in her previous role at Alta Bicycle Share.

alison cohen

What’s your biking background? How did you get interested in cycling?

I’ve been biking for transportation since as long as I can remember. I remember the first day of college tennis practice at University of Virginia, showing up on a bicycle and almost crashing at the courts, as they were nestled behind the stadium and had a gravel area near our equipment shed. I also remember coming to my final home match against Duke on a bicycle. I biked all over Boston when a grad student at MIT.

Before you were the president of Alta Bicycle Share, were you an advocate, racer, commuter?

I became a huge multi-modal commuter when I lived in Cambridge and worked 13 miles away in Dedham. I would ride my bike to South Station, put my bike on the train, and ride the last mile from the train station to work. I would then ride 13 miles home. Later, when my wife was doing her MBA at Babson, we would drive together to Wellesley, I’d ride from Wellesley to Dedham (8 miles) and then ride the 13 miles home. All year round. I now can’t imagine being that hard-core! I outfitted the shower room in the office with a closet, kept my clothes at work and encouraged all my colleagues to try biking to work. At this point, I realized that I was never going to drive to a job, and that I really loved and believed in multi-modal transportation and sustainable business practices.

You have an incredibly diverse and impressive professional background — tennis, Goldman Sachs, Free the Children. What’s been your guiding star in all of this? How do all of these fit together? Taking on personal challenges? Opportunties to use your vision for social innovation?

My over-arching philosophy early on was to leave as many opportunities open with each career or education move. I figured as a Physics major, I could always go to grad school in English or Engineering, but if I left science, it would be hard to go back. This gave me unbelievable opportunity to figure out what was right for me. After some early experience in investment banking, which was an amazing education, I realized that I wanted and needed to do something that I cared about, but still be able to earn a reasonable living. Since then, I’ve also understood that my passions are in giving people the opportunity to live a healthy and environmentally responsible life. I try to live that way myself as well. I believe that working in a for-profit mission-driven company helps me fulfill both sides of these goals. Setting up bike share systems is one way to make it easy for people to include fitness and environmentally responsible and convenient transportation into everyday life.

I know you mentioned in our conversation (when I was working on a bike share feature for Momentum magazine in 2011) that you started some small bike share systems in Cambridge — what was your first introduction to this concept? Why did this particular concept inspire you?

In late 2007, I read about the Velib system launching in Paris, and as mentioned above, had become a huge multi-modal commuter by this time. I was around Babson College, as my wife was getting her MBA there, and this school is a hotbed of entrepreneurship. I thought that Cambridge would be a great place for a bike share startup, considering it was on the forefront in terms of bike infrastructure, and the Kendall Square are had a ton of technology startups. I was able to leverage the amazing MIT entrepreneurship network to get my small business started with the Cambridge Innovation Center, who hosted my first employer-based system. It turned out that the City of Boston led the charge for bike sharing in Boston from the City side, and I admire them for taking the first big step in the US in 2009.

You mentioned going to Paris and seeing Velib — was that a turning point for you making this your next professional endeavor?

Riding Velib was a wonderful and amazing educational experience and solidified my desire to try to have a bike-focused bike share operations company. However, I spent the next several years running my own little company on the side while I had a full=time job.

You previously worked for / led Alta Bicycle Share: Was it exciting and/or intimidating to immediately have a system in the nation’s capital? Talk about a high-profile proving ground!

Photo by Michael Lewis, Fast Company

Photo by Michael Lewis, Fast Company

From the agency side, the team that I worked with from DDOT and Arlington was so professional and incredible, the real thought that I had was “don’t mess up”. During that first launch, there was a lot of learning between Alta, PBSC and the clients, and we ended up working all together to make sure that everything was covered. We at Alta ended up being in the middle to fill in all the gaps in this first-ever bike share contract. It was a very tiring and very exciting 4 months from when we completed our contract in May 2010 to system launch in September 2010. There was such a wave of dedication from all of the staff of the agencies, all the staff that we hired, and from PBSC to ensure a successful launch.

What’s been the most exciting thing about this job thus far? And what’s been the biggest challenge?

Launching bike share systems is pretty addictive. In many jobs it can take years to see a project go from concept to launch. In bike share, I have had the absolute luxury of coming in after a multi-year city and public process to get to funding and launch. After the city staff have done so much important work to get the community ready for bike share, we get to come in a propose, contract and launch a project within a year. We basically got the “icing on the cake”, and get to see the fruits of hard labor so quickly. Experiencing the positive vibe around bike share and the impacts it has on cities is pretty amazing to watch. In addition, the city staff and employees who work on bike share are, to a person, incredibly hard-working and dedicated. It is inspiring.

From the Women Bike perspective, both anecdotally and data-wise, it seems that bike share systems get more women riding. Do you think that’s the case? Do you see bike share as a key step in closing the gender gap?

I believe this has been most pronounced in Capital Bikeshare, where bike share riders are 50% male and 50% female. I do believe that in other cities, the gender gap will continue to close because of bike share. Bike Share bikes are typically upright and safer, which gives more women the courage to get on a bike. I believe safety is the #1 issue in getting women on bikes, and the safety record of these bikes is very strong.

You say in this video that you like to be on the “steep part of the learning curve.” I would imagine your involvement in the development of the NYC program (with all the additional challenges, like Hurricane Sandy) has certainly proved to be a climb…?

.We are still on the front edge of the bike share industry, as it is only 3 years old in the US. There are so many improvements to be made. Currently, I’m very interested in improving the pricing structure so that it is better understood by the user, improving contract structures so that the incentives of the operator are aligned with the city, important technological innovations such as integrating bike sharing with transit, and increasing racial and socio-economic equity in bike sharing systems.

You’re already a “social innovation rockstar” — what’s the next step, for you, or bike share now that you’re at Toole Design?

At Toole, I’m very interested in working with the deep professional experience in bike and pedestrian planning to work on several of the items discussed above. In addition, Im’ very excited to guide cities, both in the US and globally, as they consider the structure of the bike sharing programs they are planning. I’m hoping to help guide them in a manner which takes the best of what we have learned so far, and warns them of challenges that other programs have faced. Toole is a growing entrepreneurial company, and I’m excited to be moving forward together with them.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Bike Law University: Sidewalk Riding

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Bicycles on sidewalks have long been debated: Is it legal? Is it safer? Shouldn’t children be able to ride there?

In this edition of Bike Law University, we take a look at sidewalk riding, which is a perfect microcosm of the complicated relationship between bicycles and traffic laws in most states.

What are they?Girl and parent with sidewalk

Sidewalk riding laws define the rights and duties of a bicyclist when riding on a sidewalk. Whether a bicycle can be legally ridden on a sidewalk highlights the complicated and hybrid nature of the bicycle under current traffic laws in most states. A bicycle is at once a vehicle, given all the rights and duties of a vehicle; its own entity, subject to specifically tailored alternative rules; and in some cases treated as a pedestrian, with all accompanying rights and duties. In some instances, laws related to sidewalk riding can also highlight a division between adult and child bicycling.

When states do not explicitly allow bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks, court interpretations of statutes may still allow bicycles to be ridden on sidewalks. In most, if not all, states, either statutes or court decisions say that whatever laws govern bicycle behavior on sidewalks will also apply to crosswalks. (Please contact me if you would like any case citations.)

In addition to these issues caused by the hybrid nature of bicycles, many states leave their traffic laws open to change by localities, either in limited circumstances or through a general grant of power. Whether a bicycle may be ridden on a sidewalk is often explicitly allowed to be a local decision and may also be limited in central business districts, where pedestrian traffic is likely to be heavier.

Why should you care?

The League recommends that bicyclists ride on the road. Riding on the sidewalk is a significant cause of bicyclist-motorist crashes and creates unnecessary conflicts with pedestrians. There are many reasons that bicyclists belong in the road rather than upon the sidewalk, including obstructions, unpredictable pedestrian movements, limited visibility, and the limited design speed of sidewalks. However, there may be appropriate times to ride on a sidewalk or crosswalk, such as when crossing an unsafe high speed roadway or when the skill or ability level of the rider is not suited for the adjacent roadway, as can be the case with children.

When a bicyclist chooses to ride on sidewalks or crosswalks, sidewalk riding laws can clarify expectations for pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists regarding how each mode will interact. When states fail to make the rights and duties of users of different modes clear in these hybrid situations they make it more difficult for public education efforts to be authoritative, create confusion regarding who is “right,” and may unintentionally limit the ability of crash victims to recover. It is possible that this lack of clarity may be a sign that these hybrid situations are thought more suitable for court decision-making rather than legislative decision-making because of the individualized and context-sensitive nature of these mode interactions. Even in states where there are “good” laws that make the rules for each road or sidewalk user clear the best answer to these context-sensitive situations is to create a better context. Dedicated bicycle infrastructure is a demonstrated way to reduce sidewalk riding by bicyclists and an appropriate response.

sidewalkriding_photo
See the full chart of laws and regulations by clicking here.

Who has them?

hybridVehicle Laws

8 states prohibit bicycles on sidewalks because bicycles are vehicles, and vehicles are prohibited on sidewalks. In 10 states it is unclear whether bicycles are prohibited from sidewalks because they are not defined as vehicles, but a bicyclist has all of the rights and all of the duties applicable to the driver of any vehicle except as to those provisions which by their nature can have no application, and vehicles are prohibited on sidewalks. In 8 states no law was found regulating the use of sidewalks by either bicycles or vehicles.

Bicycle-specific Laws

21 states require a bicyclist to yield to a pedestrian while riding on a sidewalk. 18 states require a bicyclist to give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian while riding on a sidewalk. 4 states limit the speed of at which a bicycle can be ridden on a sidewalk.

Pedestrian Laws

13 states say that a bicyclist riding on a sidewalk has all the rights and duties of a pedestrian in the same circumstances. In all but one of these states there is a variation of the requirement that pedestrians cannot suddenly leave a curb into the path of a vehicle that is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.


Spotlight State – Utah

Utah clearly navigates the hybrid nature of bicycling on sidewalks using statutes that address a bicycle as a vehicle, as a quasi-pedestrian, and as its own entity. In Utah, bicycles are vehicles and vehicles are prohibited from operating on sidewalks. However, bicycles are explicitly allowed to ride on sidewalks in the same statute that prohibits vehicles from doing so. In a separate statute the rights and duties of a bicyclist on a sidewalk are given. In general, bicyclists have all the rights and duties applicable to pedestrians on a sidewalk, path, trail or crosswalk, but there are several exceptions. These exceptions generally do one of two things:

1)     Give priority to pedestrians

A bicyclist must yield to a pedestrian; and A bicyclist must give an audible signal before passing a pedestrian.

2)     Establish rules specific to bicycles on a sidewalk

Bicycles may be prohibited from sidewalk, path, trails, and crosswalks by sign or ordinance; Bicycles must not be operated in a negligent manner so as to collide with pedestrians, other bicyclists, or other vehicles or devices propelled by human power; and Bicycles must be operated at a reasonable and prudent speed.

Upon the shared space of a sidewalk, path, trail, or crosswalk a bicyclist is most likely to be the largest, fastest moving user of that shared space, with the most potential to injure another user of that space. The exceptions that are found in Utah’s law reflect the idea that a more dangerous user of a shared space should be subject to rules that account for that danger. Several states make a distinction between bicycles and motorized bicycles to further account for the real or perceived danger of heavier, faster, moving users on a sidewalk and prohibit motorized bicycles. Whether these additional rules are necessary or desirable can be debated, but they provide some parallels for discussions of appropriate rules for shared roadways.

Ohio also has a statute provision worth mentioning: In the Buckeye State, bicycles can be prohibited from sidewalks by sign or ordinance, but cannot be required to ride upon the sidewalk by sign or ordinance. This ensures that bicyclists can always use the road, and is an at this time unique provision to bolster the vehicle portion of the hybrid rights and duties of bicycles.

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Ken McLeodLegal Specialist, Advocacy Advance

Ken joined the League in 2012 after graduating from William & Mary School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Virginia. During law school he worked for a private law firm in Cambodia and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that, Ken worked at a law firm in Orange County and a legal services provider in Seattle. He graduated from Pomona College in 2007 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He began using his bike regularly after college and has been car-free since February 2012.
Original author: Ken
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New League Staff: Meet Lili Afkhami

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Bodkin CreekThe League is excited to announce the arrival of a new member of our staff: Lili Afkhami. Lili is our new Development Officer, and she brings years of development experience and a passion for bicycling to the League. Here’s a quick Q&A on Lili’s background…

What’s your first memory of riding a bike?

I was five years old, riding my hot pink bike with training wheels down the sidewalk – I felt like the coolest kid in town with my rainbow tassles hanging off of my handlebars! My bike was the first sense of freedom and independence I experienced.

What’s your background in development, and how do you envision applying that here at the League?

My entire professional career has been in development, primarily in higher education. I love the complexities of multifaceted organizations, which is why I’m so excited to join the team at the League. We have so many incredible programs and initiatives, and understanding the nuances of each and every one of them is essential, but at the end of the day the League’s mission is what unifies these programs and brings the pieces of the puzzle together.

What got you interested in working for the League?

I’ve always wanted to find a place where I could combine my professional passion for development and fundraising with my personal passion for cycling and fitness. Most importantly, though, I believe in the League’s mission; when I believe in something, I advocate very strongly for it, and I think the bicycling community needs strong voices to advocate for our needs.

What will your average day look like here?

If done well, there is no “average” day in development! It’s all about establishing and nurturing relationships, supporting the mission of the League in any way possible, and garnering the financial support to improve the lives of our nation’s 57 million cyclists. My day-to-day operations will vary based on our immediate and long-term needs, but relationship-building and fundraising will always be at the forefront of my responsibilities.

What bike are you riding now, and what inspires you about cycling?

Right now, I ride a Trek 2.1, which I have affectionately named Betsy. Betsy and I love riding the quiet, winding roads on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Cycling literally changed my life – I lost 105 pounds on my bike. I became a triathlete on my bike. For me, hopping on a bicycle is the best form of therapy; it keeps me centered.

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Places You Never Knew Existed… Just Around the Block

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Looking through some of the awesome stories and groups in the series made me want take you on an example of a Red, Bike and Green “Community Ride” to show why our motto is “It’s Bigger than Bikes.”

rbg group

You’ll probably get to our starting point at beautiful park you never knew existed in the predominantly black neighborhoods of southwest Atlanta, affectionately titled the S.W.A.T. The crew is waiting for you — we gather an hour or so early, so everyone, especially newbies, have their bikes prepped for the ride. Speaking of bike prep there’s a whole crew dedicated to making sure that your half flat tire and squeaky brakes don’t keep you from riding safe. It’s always great to have our bike shop or co-op friends Aztec Cycles or SOPO lend us a couple of wrenches and helping hands.

After a group safety check and some instructions, we’re off and running. First thing you’ll notice is that we aren’t going at anywhere close to racing pace; in fact the ride is structured to move only as fast as its slowest rider. With so many new riders rolling out their metal steeds for the first time in a long time there are bound to many stops along the way, both planned and spontaneous, but with so many new and happy faces around you’ll feel like the close to 10-mile journey was too short.

Our first planned stop will probably be some black-owned grocer, shop, cafe or restaurant you never knew existed and will become your new favorite spot. These black-owned businesses are often in neighborhoods with high car congestion but low foot traffic, and often show just how happy they are to have us by treating us to deals, cold water and beverages or even some fresh fruit and snacks for the crew.

IMG_5819

On our way to our next stop you might notice the group huddle closer together as we try to get to another part of the city and the streets start to feel less bike friendly. While we often start our ride on or close to a bike lane or trail to build rider confidence, the plain ole’ truth is this: safe cycling infrastructure is often nonexistent, sparse, inconvenient or unmaintained in the communities where low-income families or people of color live. This is why we work to make sure that cycling in our communities is visible to show that there is a need to our cycling advocate friends like Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and the City of Atlanta.

rbg in llane

The next stop is going to be an awesome community organization that you never knew existed that’s right around the corner of where you work, live or frequent. It might be a community garden selling fresh produce in East Atlanta. Maybe its an old school building being turned into a world class community center by a state legislator in the stadium community of Vine City. You’ll be itching to get involved and you’ll be glad they’re doing work that matters to you.

IMG_5870

Grumbling about a hill and ready to give up? Luckily we have some inspiring stories to keep you pedaling. One of our veteran riders and core member might pull up to you and tell you about how she was incredibly anxious on her first ride — she’d just learned to ride a bike a few days before — but was calmed by a patient ride leader and completed her first bike ride conquering one of Atlanta’s busiest streets. Or one of our ride mama’s might tell you about how she brought all her ducks on a ride, none older than 13 with her daughter completing the ride after a downhill spill. You’ll be motivated. You’ll keep pedaling and you won’t be sorry.

rbg mama

The end of the ride is where its at. Everyone’s legs might be tingling but the energy is so high that many stick around — and for good reason. We’ll probably have fresh fruit, water or even some exclusive RBG popsicles or smoothies by a local business. Someone will pull out some blankets for an impromptu picnic. One of the several yogis in the group might lead the crew through a few asanas to stretch out our sore muscles and some sort of spirited discussion will breakout. After a while stomachs will grumble and legs will get a bit restless and invariably the remaining bunch will vote on a spot a good distance for one last ride unplanned stop to grab some grub. Continuing the ‘fuel, bike and repeat’ cycle cyclists know too well.

IMG_5941

This brings us to the end of a typical Red, Bike and Green ride. With chapters in Chicago, New York and the home chapter in Oakland there are opportunities to get involved across the country. Checkout the group’s Indiegogo page to keep the community rides going and learn about how you can support the movement!

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Keeping Students in School — and University

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Keith Oberg, founder of Bikes for the World.

Over 30 years, I saw the deleterious effects of lack of education on a daily basis in my overseas economic development work. Kids would attend primary school in their village, but when it came to secondary school, distances would often get in the way, and kids — especially girls — would drop out. And stay poor. I was determined to make a difference, in 2005, I founded Bikes for the World to collect unwanted but usable bicycles and deliver them around the world to local programs providing affordable bicycles to disadvantaged individuals.

Keith

One example is Bikes for the Philippines. BfP was founded by a local scuba diving instructor, Joel Uichico, in consultation with schools in Baclayon, on Bohol, one of 2,000 inhabited islands on the Philippines archipelago. Uichico had observed students walking long distances to school, and learned that increasing numbers of adolescents were dropping out of school, especially at the critical transition to high school. Investigating further, he determined that one reason was the lengthy and often physically challenging commute. While primary schools were close-by, high schools were often further away. Students would arrive late, tired, or both. At this stage, parents would often discourage attendance, whether for chores or out of concern for girls’ physical safety — the result was the same.

With an initial shipment of bicycles from Bikes for the World, the Bikes for the Philippines program has provided reconditioned bicycles to nearly 200 high school students. These bikes make a difference in the lives of recipients. Cristy Joy Razo and Eunice Faith Pude are two examples of successful beneficiaries. Living more than three kilometers from Baclayon National High School, each received a bicycle “on loan” (students do not become owners until they graduate), received training in riding their bikes, and attended school wearing a required helmet.

Left: Eunice Faith Pude

Left: Eunice Faith Pude

They have now graduated, becoming full owners of their respective bicycles, and recently won acceptance and scholarships to study information technology at the University of San Carlos, on the neighboring island of Cebu.

Bikes for the World continues to grow and expand its scope. Since 2005, it has provided more than 75,000 used bicycles to more than 20 different programs, locally and internationally, for access to education and employment. In 2012 alone, in partnership with national retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods, which provided more than 4,000 trade-in bikes, BfW handled more than 13,500 bicycles, making it the nation’s largest bicycle reuse program.

BfW now partners with more than 150 service organizations, schools, faith communities, and businesses including more than 20 local, regional, and national bicycle retailers to channel this resource, helping to build a cycling culture worldwide. Its aim is to professionalize and scale-up the reuse of used bicycles and create a sustainable institution capable of having a large-scale impact.

Besides being an effective and increasingly large-scale humanitarian agency, Bikes for the World sees itself as a member of the bicycle advocacy community. It is an institutional member of the League; it raises the profile of the cycling community on a national level; it acts as a clearing house getting used bicycle “capital” to the highest and most productive use, locally as well as internationally; and it helps donors of bicycles by facilitating their disposing of an under-utilized or unsatisfactory bicycle, make greater physical and emotional space for actually purchasing — and riding more frequently — a new, probably better bicycle.

Learn more about BfW at www.bikesfortheworld.org.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Kimberly Clark Celebrates Two BFB Awards on Get Up & Ride Day

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

While the National Bike Challenge is now a daily joy for nearly 30,000 bicyclists nationwide, the idea came from an employee and bike commuter at the Kimberly Clark Corporation: Rob Gusky. But the enthusiasm for active transportation doesn’t end with the company’s official Bicycling Ambassador — Kimberly Clark is committed to biking as a means to improve the health and productivity of its employees and the sustainability of its business.

Last week, League COO Jakob Wolf-Barnett and League Board Chair Gail Spann traveled to Wisconsin to join more than 200 K-C employees for their annual Get Up & Ride Day. Encouraging that many folks to saddle up is certainly impressive, but that wasn’t the only cause for celebration. Wolf-Barnett and Spann also presented K-C CEO Tom Falk with two Bicycle Friendly Business designations: a bronze for the company’s Conway, Ark., location and a gold for its HQ in Neenah, Wis. Also on hand were League members and supporters, like the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin and staff from Wheel and Sprocket bike shops.

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From left: League COO Jakob Wolf-Barnett presents two Bicycle Friendly Business awards to Kimberly-Clark CEO Tom Falk, with League Board Chair Gail Spann

“Jakob and I met some of the local ‘movers and shakers’ and enjoyed some great conversations about the National Bike Challenge, the League, the Scott product line and, of course, Kimberly Clark,” Spann says. “Rob Gusky, a long time National Bike Summit attendee was our host for the visit, and we met many of the people who came in to ride that day, most who were working at K-C. After a short warm up, we were ready to present our Gold and Bronze BFB awards to CEO Tom Falk.”

.“After some handshaking and photo opps, we hopped on our bicycles and headed out to lead the group with Rob and a few others,” she continued. “I must say, it wasn’t quite so cold after all, and the only hills were a couple of bridges. The views were wonderful, the trees in bloom and grass as green as any I have ever seen. After the ride we had a chance to visit with many of the riders and I even joined the Bike Federation of Wisconsin to offer my support. It was a whirlwind trip full of great introductions, a wonderful bike ride, and seeing some old friends, too. Presenting the awards was such fun, I might just have to go back up and ride with everyone again!”

See more photos from the event in the slideshow above or on our Flickr page. And don’t forget to sign up for the National Bike Challenge to join the fun!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Report: The New Majority is Pedaling Toward Equity

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Equity report cover

Cross-posted by the League and Sierra Club

The “New Majority” that elected a president is also electing to hop on bicycles as a transportation alternative and tool for health and community development.

Biking boomed in communities across the country, doubling from 1.7 billion trips in 2001 to more than four billion trips in 2009. That growth is being pedaled forward by youth, women, and people of color — who are playing a key role in shifting transportation demand towards safe, accessible, and equitable bicycling infrastructure.

A first of its kind report, “The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity,” released today by the League and the Sierra Club, features data on demographic ridership, the effect of safe cycling infrastructure on ridership, new immigrant perceptions of bicycling, as well as the economic impact of transportation and health inequity.

According to the report, the fastest growth in bicycling over the last decade is among the Hispanic, African American and Asian American populations, which grew from 16% of all bike trips in 2001 to 23% in 2009.

According to a national poll, more than 85% of people of color (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American and mixed race) have a positive view of bicyclists and 71% say their community would be a better place to live if bicycling were safer and more comfortable.

That support is true among the next generation, as well: 89% of young adults — aged 18-29 — have a positive view of bicyclists at and 75% agree that their community would be a better place to live if biking and walking were safer and more comfortable.

These new riders, leaders and organizations are making biking accessible and inviting to all Americans — while making the case for a safer and more equitable transportation system in communities nationwide.

Not surprisingly, the interest and demand among many Americans appears to be thwarted by a lack of equitable distribution of bicycle facilities and culturally competent outreach. For instance, according to the report, 60% of people of color say they would ride more if they had access to bike lanes or trails. Better access to safe cycling infrastructure, including protected cycle tracks, bike lanes, bike sharing systems, and bike parking, can help more people take advantage of the significant health, economic, environmental, and community benefits of bicycling.

“The New Majority: Pedaling Towards Equity” uncovers stories and data that point to consistent disparities and inequities in the manner in which people of color, women and youth — including groups that are bicycling at higher rates and have more to gain in terms of bike benefits — are engaged in bicycling-related matters. For example, data gathered by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition revealed that neighborhoods with the highest percentage of people of color had a lower distribution of cycling facilities — and areas with the lowest median household income ($22,656 annually) were also the areas with the highest number of bicycle and pedestrian crashes.

The report also underlines stories of powerful local efforts of communities organizing to address these issues, opening up new lanes to cycling in communities often overlooked by traditional transportation planners and cycling advocates.

The US Department of Transportation, local and state transportation planners, and advocates at all levels have a responsibility to ensure that our transportation is safe, accessible, and equitable for everyone. This report shows that the future of transportation is changing, and in many ways is already here.

The challenge: Level the playing field by truly uniting the bicycle movement. The opportunity: A rapid rise in the number of bicyclists — and better health, safety and economic benefits for all.

Download the full report.

My Signature

Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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Where the Ride Takes Us: A Woman, Her Bike and Her Wrench

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Susan_Bike_Mechanic-2406_V2 (1024x734)

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Susan Lindell, a Recycle-A-Bicycle Wrench.

A couple years back, a friend of mine saw me walking down the sidewalk and looked stunned. She stopped me and said “I don’t like to see you without your bike — it’s weird.”

How I became the known as the “bike person” I am today is a story of many people in the bicycle community opening up a place for me.

As a kid growing up in small town North Dakota, I was always riding my bike around the neighborhood but as I grew older, I happily became a full time car person. I remained a driver for many years until I moved from Minneapolis to New York City and finally sold my car.

After about a year of living in Brooklyn and commuting by train, a friend gave me an old Fuji 10-speed bicycle. Little did that friend know that they started what would be my new career path. I was hooked on bike riding. It was so fascinating to see all the neighborhoods and hidden places in between my starting and finishing point. Getting the fresh air and exercise wasn’t too bad either.

When that bike broke I decided that I wanted to learn to fix it myself. I’ve always been the “fix-it” type and so learning how to repair my own bike seemed like the natural thing to do. This attitude led me to a Time’s Up! fix your own bike workshop and then to Women’s Volunteer Night at Recycle-A-Bicycle (RAB). The more I learned about bicycles the more I appreciated them. The mystery of how they work slowly unfolded and I was amazed at how simple and efficient they are as a machine. It wasn’t just the mechanics that I loved. I loved the camaraderie of the new community that I was beginning to be a part of. One night while volunteering at Recycle-A-Bicycle, founder and director Karen Overton saw me true a wheel quickly after just one lesson and offered me a starting mechanic position on the spot. I accepted even though I knew I was in over my head. I  was determined to not disappoint her blind faith. My first day on the job, I endured the looks of doubt from coworkers as I struggled through my first tune-up.

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My determination did not go unnoticed by my fellow mechanics and they were patient enough to answer my endless questions. I watched them closely, soaking up whatever knowledge I could while learning from my own trials and errors.

About a year after being hired, I moved on from my guitar work and committed myself full time to Recycle-A-Bicycle. Today, eight years later,  I am the manager of the Brooklyn shop and I still love my job. I have had the pleasure over the years to work with many amazing people. Former head mechanic Miguel Fernandez has inspired many with his journey from a 14 year old intern to being one of the most skilled mechanics in NYC. I have seen youth interns grow into skilled mechanics, avid bikers, and active advocates for the cycling community. I have also seen coworkers, such as Karen and Miguel, leave for other work and return to RAB. I believe this is because we all have a love for Recycle-A-Bicycle and the work that we do there. Fixing bikes may be a small feat in the grand scheme of things, but it is quite simply a great way to help people on a day to day basis.

Thanks to all of these events and all of the inspiring people I have met in this community, I am a believer in the bike. The bike is not just a simple and efficient form of transportation but also a powerful instrument for change.

Learn more about Recycle-A-Bicycle here.

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Attracting the Creative Class

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Jamison Hutchins, Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Indianapolis, which is using bicycles to revive the urban core and attract new talent.

Indianapolis used to be focused on one thing in the month of May: cars.

The Indianapolis 500 is probably the highlight of the busy summer schedule in Indy, so race cars traditionally have been the focus of many Hoosiers when the month rolls around. However, since 2007, when Mayor Greg Ballard was elected, bicycles have taken their rightful place in the month’s activities.

Indy Mayor Greg Ballard at the National Bike Summit

Indy Mayor Greg Ballard at the National Bike Summit

The Mayor entered office, understanding the Circle City had a great deal of potential and that it just needed to be activated. He also understood that the people that were going to help the City live up to its potential were the young creative class. Whether these were artists, people working in the service industry and/or the young talent that was being attracted by Eli Lilly, Rolls Royce or any of the other large businesses that call Indy home. Mayor Ballard looked around to other cities and realized that today’s youth had choices and they were flocking to Minneapolis, Chicago and other cities that were winning the battle for talent. These cities are great for many reasons, but the Mayor also realized that people were looking at transportation differently. The infatuation with the automobile seemed to be dying for a variety of reasons and many were intentionally rejecting it.

While many of these cities have extensive transit systems, he also realized they had invested in a less expensive mode of transportation-the bicycle. So, while mass transit is a major priority of the Mayor, he decided to expand on the already existing 40+miles of greenways and look to the bicycle as a way get people to/from all the great neighborhoods and destinations in the City.

In 2007, the on-street bike network consisted of about 1 mile of random bike lanes. Five years, piggy-backing on routine resurfacing projects, federal transportation dollars and a growing demand for bicycle facilities, Indy now has 74 miles of on street bike lanes. It started out with two major one way, east/west roads that spanned a large swath of the City. There were the typical complaints and “concerns” from residents that had never ridden in, or driven next to bike lanes, but the outcome was overall support to incorporate another mode of transportation in the city.

This also happened to start around the same time as construction of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail got underway. This nearly 8-mile protected bicycle and pedestrian facility in the heart of downtown that connects people to the various cultural districts around town really changes the landscape of the city and makes people rethink the way they move throughout Indy.

Indianapolis, like many other cities over the past 30 years, has suffered heavily from suburban sprawl and urban flight. This has left an urban core that has some density issues, a transportation network focused on getting people in and out from the suburbs by car. Around the office we like to call it “potential.” There is no shortage of great housing-stock located in wonderful, urban neighborhoods, as well as wide streets that provide existing right-of-way to “play” with; oh and a lot of surface parking lots.

As I type this, these neighborhoods are being reinvested in, the roads are being retrofitted to accommodate bicycles and the surface parking lots are being filled with mixed-use developments that are bringing grocery stores, restaurants and other retail, as well as providing living space above. These developments are trying to meet the demand of the kids and young adults of the parents that moved out of the cities and into the suburbs. This generation seems to be more interested in community, bikeable/livable neighborhoods and having entertainment options close by — in contrast to the parents who were lured out of the “dirty/dangerous” cities with the promise of bigger houses, more cars and ultimately a more secluded lifestyle.

Mayor Ballard, just as the companies that he aims to attract to Indy, realize that the pendulum is swinging back to the urban cores for a number of these reasons.

.So, with the leadership of the Mayor, Indianapolis was recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community at the bronze level four years ago. Since then, we have striped another 30 miles of on-street bike lanes, retrofitted an old building into one of the most innovative bicycle commuter hubs in the country, finally finished the Indy Cultural Trail after six years, expanded our greenway system, broadened our education and outreach program and adopted one of the best Complete Streets policies in the country.

We really have been a test-case in “if you build it, they will come.” Our ridership has sky-rocketed and now bicycles are a mainstay on the roadways. Our business districts have had new life pumped into them and people are experiencing this great city from a bike seat or from their feet…as it should be.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Foxx Sails Through Nomination Hearing

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Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx is one step closer to becoming the new Secretary of Transportation, and after yesterday’s hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, his appointment seems assured.

In what was one of the most congenial nomination hearings this year, Foxx joked with Senators, promised to work with the legislators and to be as transparent as possible. It was so congenial that more than half of the Senators on the committee didn’t even take the opportunity to publicly ask him questions, including Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). (Foxx had met with all the Senators, including Boxer, privately.)

CABA_fox_on_bike2_biggerIn his opening statement, and throughout the hearing, Foxx stressed the role of transportation as a catalyst for economic development. He said his priorities as Secretary would be making the U.S. transportation system the safest in the world; making the department more effective and efficient; and ensuring the U.S. build a transportation system to meet the needs of the next generation. While he never mentioned bicycling specifically, he continually mentioned the need to build multi-modal projects — and praised TIGER as a step in the right direction. He also indicated he would follow in the footsteps of Secretary Ray LaHood when it came to focusing on distracted driving, saying it was now “baked in” to how the DOT does business.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) asked about his support for the Recreational Trails Program to which Foxx answered that he “looked forward to talking more” with Senator Klobuchar about it. This was Foxx’s m.o. towards many questions he chose not to answer directly.

The hearing was marked more by what wasn’t said as what was — the solvency of the Highway Trust Fund. Foxx got a few questions about how he would implement sequester with little pain, and was urged to cut waste and unnecessary regulations. But no one asked about whether he would raise the gas tax, or support a Vehicle Miles Traveled fee. Sen. Mark Begich (D-Ark.) was not there to ask about VMT. Begich said he would oppose any nominee that supported it.

Foxx was clear that he wanted to run an efficient department and avoid pain as much as possible, but also noted that, given the financial limitations, he wasn’t sure avoiding painful cuts was possible. Foxx indicated interest in tolling, infrastructure banks and public-private partnerships but that none of these were a magic bullet.

The only tense moment came at the end of the hearing, when Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) seemingly couldn’t hold back his frustration. He admonished Congress for not being willing to take up the hard issue of funding transportation. Saying that members were too afraid of contested primaries to make the tough choices that were right for the country. He expressed frustration with the idea that just being efficient would help avoid the pain of sequester. Without addition funding, he said, the country can’t avoid the pain of budget cuts

Rockefeller also warned Foxx, saying that for the nominee to succeed he’d have to tell the tough truths to Congress and couldn’t always be as agreeable as he was in the hearing. He suggested Foxx learn from LaHood. “Your predecessor would come up here and speak his mind — and he managed to get away with it.”

(Photo Credit: Weldon Weaver.)

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Caron WhitakerVice President of Government Relations

Prior to joining the League of American Bicyclists in 2012, Ms. Whitaker served as the Campaign Director for America Bikes where she coordinated and implemented America Bikes federal policy agenda. Before that, she worked for the National Wildlife Federation on smart growth, international policy, and community engagement. In addition, Caron served as a Community Land Use Planner for the State of North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, providing technical assistance to local governments and staffing a stakeholders’ council responsible for revising state planning regulations. She has a Masters in Environmental Management for Duke University, Nicolas School of the Environment and a Bachelors of Arts from Williams College.
Original author: Caron
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Slashing Employee Healthcare Costs

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today we hear from Seth E. Nesselhuf, the Advocacy, Community Service and Environment program Director at QBP, about their Health Reward program, which has lowered health care costs for its employees.

At Quality Bicycle Products, we pride ourselves on being a company made up of committed cyclists.

As the largest supplier of bike parts in the United States, with more than 650 employees, it’s important that we know our product in and out through constant testing. We have everything from recreational cyclists who ride around the block with their kids to hardcore snow racers who ride hundreds of miles in the frigid forests of upper Minnesota. But, as a company, we put in the most mileage simply biking to work and back.

qbp

With three distribution centers in three different states, it is no easy task to get employees to bike to work, especially considering the distances a great deal of employees live from QBP. But by adding bike infrastructure, encouraging ridership through financial incentives and competition, and cultivating bike culture, we’ve successfully created one of the best corporate commuting programs in the U.S.

In fact, on a good day, more than 30 percent of our employees will bike to work, with more than 370,000 miles biked in 2012. That’s 10 times the average ridership rate for Minneapolis commuters.

We’ve increased our ridership through hiring a part time Commuter Advocate, and by providing dedicated lockers, showers, indoor bike parking, and an employee bike shop. Additionally, we host bike mechanic classes, provide breakfast on our monthly bike to work day, and give QBPers $3 in QBP credit every day they bike in. In order to keep track of these incentives, we created the website www.greenlightride.com. The employee simply has to log in and add their mileage everyday they bike to work. An added bonus to using GreenlightRide.com is that it encourages even more biking through inter-work competition.

For years these actions have increased ridership and cultivated culture. What we didn’t expect were the financial savings we would experience as a company and individuals through reduced health insurance claims. Last year HealthPartners, our health insurance carrier, ran the numbers for us and using the top 100 commuters that bike over 10 miles per week as a sample, they made an amazing discovery.

The $45,000 we dedicate to our commuting program annually realizes a huge economic return for QBP and its employees. Between 2009-2011 average national corporate per member per month (PMPM) health care costs had risen nearly 25 percent, while QBP PMPM had actually decreased 4.4 percent!

QBP saved so much money that we gave every employee more than $100 back at the beginning of the next year. That has to be a first. These top 100 bicycle commuters have incurred an estimated annual savings of $200,000, experiencing one-third of the claims related costs of non-bicycle commuters. Overall, the study finds that a $45,000 investment in employee health and wellbeing generates more than $670,000 in economic return.

We hope that the HealthPartners/QBP study becomes an inspiration to companies everywhere to start their own commuter programs. Additionally, this is proof that spending money on bike projects not just as a company but as a city, state, and nation can have very real and positive results when it comes to fighting ever-increasing health care costs and childhood obesity.

With studies like this and increasing attention paid to mixed modal transit we can start to change the way that America looks at the bicycle. No longer is it merely a toy for kids, but one of the most powerful tools to achieve a healthier and more sustainable country.

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Where the Ride Takes Us: How Bicycles Brings Business

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post is an excerpt from a feature I wrote for the March-April issue of Momentum magazine on the impact of bicycles on local business. This section is particularly fitting as League staff is in Memphis today attending the Tennessee Bike Summit!

FEAT_M60_BikeBiz_BroadAve_PatBrown_Photo-Steve-Roberts-RSVP-MagazinePat Brown was just hoping to hang on in a tough economy. When she relocated her art gallery in 2008, it was the rock-bottom rent that drew her to a still struggling strip of downtown Memphis, TN. “We were just trying to survive,” she said.

Brown (pictured right) was betting on a small core of community members determined to transform Broad Avenue from a fast-moving thoroughfare, where traffic whizzed past boarded-up storefronts at 50 mph (80 km/h), into a bustling arts district. Little did she know that they would hit the jackpot with bicycling.

Shortly after Brown opened T Clifton Gallery, Sarah Newstok walked in. The local nonprofit Newstok led, Livable Memphis, had a vision for Broad Avenue, too. They wanted to build a protected bike lane that would pass right by Brown’s door, creating a vital connection between a popular multi-use trail and the city’s largest park. “We’re a retail business, so any time there’s a concept to bring additional traffic directly by your storefront, it’s very easy to say ‘yes,’” Brown recalled with a laugh.

In 2010, after garnering support from city officials and surrounding businesses, Livable Memphis and the Broad Avenue Arts District rolled out the idea in a dramatic way. They painted temporary bike lanes and crosswalks and invited the community to “A New Face for an Old Broad,” a celebration, complete with live music, street vendors and a kids’ bike parade down the freshly striped cycle track (photo below).

“Until then, the area had been doing art walks once a year and, at best, those were bringing in 1,000 people,” Brown said. “Our goal for this day-and-a-half event, where the street itself would be a sort of theatrical performance, was maybe 5,000 people. We had 15,000 show up. The energy level was incredible. It was a huge tipping point for us – it changed the trajectory of the revitalization efforts.”

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The energy didn’t wane once the event was over and bicyclists started taking advantage of the temporary lanes. Since then, the promise of permanent facilities has drawn more than $6 million in private investment. More than 15 new businesses have opened and nearly 30 properties have been renovated. Traffic has slowed, new customers are arriving on two wheels and, suddenly the rock-bottom neighborhood is one of the hottest spots in town.

Memphis isn’t the only city where bicycling is bringing business. Increasingly leaders in the public and private sector are realizing that being bike-friendly makes good business sense, boosting the bottom line and promoting community-wide economic development. Bicycling in the United States is a $6 billion national industry and one study estimates that the spillover effects of recreational bicycling alone could be as large as $133 billion. But that’s just the beginning, barely scratching the surface of the economic impact of transportation bicycling in communities across North America…

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Read the full story here!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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Women Bike Mini-Grants Announced

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To seed and support this growing momentum to encourage women from all backgrounds to become engaged in bicycling and the bike movement, the League’s Women Bike program has awarded $7,500 in small grants to innovative, model campaigns in four cities.

We know new ideas and initiatives are breaking ground across the country — and we want to make sure the best efforts take root and serve as examples for the rest of the nation. These grants aim to provide best practices on women’s bicycling outreach and engagement, so, instead of reinventing the wheel, advocates are able to quickly and effectively accelerate the energy around women’s bicycling in their communities with proven strategies and key resources.

In this call for proposals, we received more than 60 applications for funding — and we were absolutely in awe of the amazing amount and diversity of work around women and bicycling. The decisions were tough but the recipient organizations and projects in this round of Women Bike mini-grants include:

WE Bike NYC
Engaging Latina Women Through Bilingual Outreach and Resources
$2,000
Breaking down barriers for women cyclists, WE Bike NYC realizes the importance of creating a space where new riders feel welcome and understood. “Engaging Latina women is done by creating accessible resources where these women can literally and figuratively see themselves — or people who look like them,” says Liz Jose, a bilingual organizer and founder of the group. “Our goal with this grant is to create outreach and educational materials in print and online that encourage Latina women to join the bicycle movement. By compiling existing Spanish language resources as well as creating new, downloadable documents, the work created under this grant will create a model for language inclusiveness for groups across the country, as well as materials such as a Spanish-language ‘Fix-A-Flat’ book featuring Latina women and a Spanish-language ‘Club Pack’ that can be used to begin work in local communities.” Learn more about WE Bike NYC.

Women Bike PHL (Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia)
Girl Scouts on Wheels
$1,500
The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s Women Bike PHL campaign is working to get more women and girls on bikes in Philadelphia. Their innovative “Girl Scouts on Wheels” project is developing and promoting a Biking Basics patch, as well as offering Bike Rodeos and Learn-to-Ride classes to Girl Scout troops. “I was a Girl Scout for 10 years, and know from experience what a positive impact that organization has on youth,” says Katie Monroe, Women Bike PHL coordinator. “If we’re serious about getting more women riding, we need to start young — and Girl Scouts seems like the perfect platform for educating and inspiring girls to get pedaling. It’s also a powerful national network, so ideally this partnership between bike advocates and Girl Scouts could be replicated around the country.” Learn more about Women Bike PHL.

We Are All Mechanics
Scholarship Program
$1,500
A women-owned and operated initiative since 2003, We are All Mechanics has been teaching bicycle maintenance courses to women in the Madison-area community for 10 years. The grant from the League will enable us to offer scholarships to women who would otherwise not be able to participate in our Basic Bicycle Maintenance Course,” says Ali Dwyer, a co-founder of WAAM. “Participants in our Basic Course report that they are excited to share what they know with others, and they report riding more often, for more reasons, and with more confidence after taking our course.Our successful program, and our original materials will serve as a model for other programs and bicycle educators.” Learn more about We Are All Mechanics.

Marin County Bicycle Coalition
Women on Wheels in Spanish
$2,500 (Special Smart Cycling grant)
Marin County Bicycle Coalition’s Women on Wheels was developed in 2011 to provide classes for women to ride together and provide other shared information. “The classes are designed to help women gain the confidence and skills they need to ride a bicycle for errands, to get their children to school or for recreation,” says MCBC’s Wendi Kallins. “With this grant, we’ll be able to offer these classes in the low income, predominantly Hispanic neighborhood of the Canal area of San Rafael – and make the curriculum for Spanish-speaking women available to other communities around the country.” Learn more about Women On Wheels.

Learn more about Women Bike at bikeleague.org/womenbike 

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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Transportation Secretary Nominee to Go Before Senate Panel

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TAnthony Foxx, Candidate for Mayorhis afternoon, Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will testify in front of the Senate Commerce Committee as part of his nomination process to become the U.S. Secretary of Transportation.

The League issued a statement when he was nominated, and we look forward to hearing Mayor Foxx answer questions about his vision for transportation over the next four years. When it comes to surface transportation, we believe the Mayor has an important story to tell about how innovative transportation choices like light rail, street cars and bike share helped bring 13,000 new jobs to Charlotte, N.C.

The League was among the more than two dozen organizations that signed-on to a letter from the Transportation for America Equity Caucus to the Senate committee attesting: “We believe that Foxx’s background prepares him well to advance an agenda at the US Department of Transportation that affords all Americans the opportunity to participate and prosper.”

This hearing is also an opportunity to hear from the Senators — 13 Democrats and 11 Republicans, almost a quarter of the Senate, and five first time Senators — about what they believe are the most important transportation issues of the day.

It’s a fair bet that funding for transportation — including the Highway Trust Fund — will be a main focus of the discussion. In addition to that, I’ll be interested in hearing what Foxx, and the Senators, are thinking about in terms of our goals for the next transportation bill.

How can we move towards zero deaths on our highways? If cities are the economic engines of the nation, what should the role of local decision making in transportation be? How can transportation policy address local economic development, health and quality of life issues? In his State of the Union Speech, President Obama announced a “fix it first” policy for transportation; what will that look like, and how will a complete streets approach be incorporated?

We’ll be watching the confirmation hearing, and listening for answers to these questions and others. Let us know what you’re listening for…

 

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Caron WhitakerVice President of Government Relations

Prior to joining the League of American Bicyclists in 2012, Ms. Whitaker served as the Campaign Director for America Bikes where she coordinated and implemented America Bikes federal policy agenda. Before that, she worked for the National Wildlife Federation on smart growth, international policy, and community engagement. In addition, Caron served as a Community Land Use Planner for the State of North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, providing technical assistance to local governments and staffing a stakeholders’ council responsible for revising state planning regulations. She has a Masters in Environmental Management for Duke University, Nicolas School of the Environment and a Bachelors of Arts from Williams College.
Original author: Caron
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Videos: What Are the Best Ways to Attract More Women to Biking?

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

With so much energy around biking in the Bike Apple — and the imminent and exciting launch of the NYC Bike Share system — Velojoy.com hosted a dynamic panel at the annual Bike New York Expo this month addressing ways to involve women. Moderated by Susi Wunsch, the founder of Velojoy and member of the Women Bike Advisory Board, the session crystallized some of the key hurdles and opportunities to get more women riding.

“In New York City, trips by male bicycle commuters outnumber those by women by 3-1,” Wunsch said in her opening, “but there’s real change on the horizon.”

The discussion provided an engaging glimpse of that promising future, capturing diverse experiences and perspectives on how to get more women riding, including (in the recap video above):

The story behind how and why Julie Hirschfeld opened Adeline Adeline, a women-friendly bike shop specifically oriented to commuter biking Insight from Caroline Samponaro, director of campaigns and organizing at Transportation Alternatives, on the four ways to get more people on bikes — and how she took action to identify where women ride in greater numbers in NYC Thoughts from Dani Simons, marketing director for the new Citi Bike, on what makes bike share systems particularly compelling to women

The panel also addressed head-on the most multi-faceted question of all: What are the best ways to attract more women to cycling (video above).

Share the videos above and subscribe to a wealth of great content around women and cycling at www.velojoy.com.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Igniting the Power of the People

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post is an excerpt from the May/June issue of American Bicyclist, featuring the innovative efforts of Team Better Block, which uses DIY tactics to empower and engage citizens to re-imagine their streets — in real time.

Jason Roberts fully expected to get arrested. “We decided we would break every law that we possibly could,” the Dallas resident recalls.

The day was September 11, 2010, the place was a nearly abandoned Tyler Street in the heart of the Oak Cliff neighborhood — and the 36-year-old IT consultant was the unlikely leader of a local revolution. Inspired by a trip to Europe, where pedestrian plazas and bike facilities created vibrant public spaces, Roberts had started to look around his own neighborhood and had a realization: Wow, we’re going about this all wrong.

Jason Roberts and Andrew Howard

(From left) Jason Roberts and Andrew Howard

In so many places, abandoned buildings disintegrated next to wide, lifeless streets, where absent sidewalks and cracked pavement made pedestrians and bicyclists unwelcome. Meanwhile, antiquated zoning laws hobbled entrepreneurship and street improvement were in the hands engineering experts huddling over maps making abstract calculations about traffic flow.

Roberts decided to challenge the status quo by showing folks the alternative — in real time.

Working with Andrew Howard, his partner in what would become known as Team Better Block, Roberts radically re-imagined Tyler street with the help of a small army of eager volunteers. They painted their own bike lanes and crosswalks. They turned an old car garage into a space for children’s art classes and created café seating outside previously abandoned buildings.

Cognizant of their rebellion, they printed out and posted in the windows every single law they broke in bringing Tyler Street back from the dead. But Team Better Block wasn’t led away in handcuffs. Quite the opposite: City officials started questioning the status quo, too. Clearly the Team has come up with a winning strategy.

Jason painting

Roberts’ innovative, do-it-yourself model proved effective in other areas of Dallas — and soon advocates and officials in other cities were calling, asking Roberts’ team to bring that energy and ingenuity to their own struggling streets. Just three years since that first event, Better Blocks has jumpstarted transformation in Memphis, Wichita, San Antonio and other major cities.

So what are the components of a Better Block and why have these strategies proven successful?

For Roberts, there are four critical attributes of a Better Block project. First, it has to be safe — while volunteers paint the bike lanes, there’s always an engineer in the background making sure the facilities are safe. It has to be inviting and engaging for people no matter their mode of travel and accessible for folks aged 8 to 80. And, perhaps most importantly, it has to have staying power. The beauty of a Better Block is that it’s a temporary installation, soothing concerns from policymakers or powerbrokers who may be wary of the transformation. But, at the same time, it has the potential to spur permanent changes to the street when it proves to be a success.

Multiple projects

The key to that success? Changing the advocacy paradigm. “Get out of city hall and onto the street,” Roberts says. “Ninety-percent of the community wants action. They want to pick up a hammer, paintbrushes and brooms and start doing something.”

“It’s so much more powerful to allow people to experience an improved environment as opposed to just showing them pictures and renderings,” he adds. “By physically putting change on the ground, many people who were opposed or maybe didn’t understand the project, can become our advocates once they see that the changes are positive and don’t have a detrimental impact on traffic.”

Read the full story below…

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Bicyclists Take to the Streets in Celebration of Bike To Work Day

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Thousands of people across the country left their keys on the counter this morning, opting instead to grab their bicycle and ride to the office.

National Bike to Work Day is one of our favorite times of the year, and it proved its salt again this morning.  The League staff was stationed at several pit stops in and around Washington, D.C., to say hello to bicyclists on their way to work.  We passed out bike pins, urged visitors to become members and listened to local politicians as they extolled the benefits of bicycling.

Scroll through some of our photos from this morning in D.C., and be sure to send us yours via Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!



Thank you to everyone who participated in Bike to Work Day 2013!

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Surviving Cancer and Living with Diabetes

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Mari Ruddy, who has had type 1 diabetes for 32 years, is a two-time breast cancer survivor, founded the Red Rider Program of the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure, and is the Director of TeamWILD Athletics.

I remember the thrill I got the first time my dad let go of the bicycle seat — and I felt the Schwinn moving 100% under in my control. My 5-year-old self immediately recognized the power I possessed. Little did I know how the bike would give me many gifts throughout my life — the most important being refuge for my health challenges.

I found out when I was 16 (like my father found out when he was 26) that I had type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes requires diligent attention to balancing food, insulin, stress and exercise. It’s a balancing act that sometimes feels like I need a medical degree, an exercise physiology degree and a dietitian credential to manage.

When I was in my late 30s, after many years of poorly managed diabetes, I discovered that the key to it all was riding my bike — riding long slow distances to be precise.

militis 3 and mari

I trained for and completed a 400-mile bike tour of Colorado and maintained the best blood sugar control of my life. All the while eating plenty of carbohydrates to fuel my effort climbing all those mountain passes. I finished the bike ride and, much to my chagrin, I couldn’t seem to recover. A few months later I found a lump in my right breast. I had Stage II breast cancer. I rode my bike on a trainer in my living room during chemo treatments and I rode my bike to and from the majority of my radiation sessions.

As the bike had given me hope with my diabetes management, the bike grounded me in who I was as I moved through breast cancer treatments. The week after finishing cancer treatments, I participated in my first triathlon and I loved the healing that came from being in the Survivor Wave. People celebrated and cheered for my survivorship, and that touched me.

I wanted to bring that same healing love to the world of diabetes.

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I got involved with the American Diabetes Association Tour de Cure and started the Red Rider Recognition Program. Red Riders are the more than 7,000 cyclists who ride in the Tour de Cure who have diabetes. Red Riders are the heroes of the ride, for we are not victims of our health struggles, but rather we courageously get on our bikes and take charge of our wellness.

During the Tour de Cure, cyclists call out “Go Red Rider!” to those of us with diabetes who wear the Red Rider jersey. “Go Red Rider!” offers encouragement and love for the challenge it is to live well with a difficult disease like diabetes. It touches my heart deeply to hear “Go Red Ride!” It makes all I’ve survived seem not so bad.

TdC co 2011 startline mike c mari arms together

I found out in July of 2010 that I had a second primary occurrence of breast cancer. It was the Red Rider community who supported me through those treatments. And you better believe I rode my bike through it all! I’m again cancer-free, though I still have diabetes. So, I keep riding and I keep talking about the power of riding the bike for health.

mari

See you out there!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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Infographics: Where is Bike Commuting Growing the Fastest?

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

This morning, thousands of Americans will pedal out of their driveways, taking part in National Bike to Work Day. Sponsored by the League, Bike to Work Day is being celebrated in hundreds of communities nationwide, highlighting the health, economic and community benefits of bicycling with local commuter convoys, energizer stations, breakfast rallies and more.

The past decade has seen dramatic growth in biking, with the total number of trips more than doubling from 1.7 billion in 2001 to 4 billion in 2009, according to the National Household Travel Survey.

But where has bike commuting grown the most? In Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) that have made smart, strategic investments to make biking better.

From 2000 to 2011, the bicycle commuting rate has risen 80% in the largest Bicycle Friendly Communities — far above the average growth of 47% nationwide and more than double the rate of 32% in the cities not designated as bicycle-friendly.

In some Bicycle Friendly Communities, bicycle commuting rates have skyrocketed by more than 400% since 1990, including cities as diverse as Portland, Ore., and Lexington, Ky. Meanwhile, cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Denver have more than doubled their bike commuter share since 2000.

Click here to download the infographic as a PDF.

Take it from League President, Andy Clarke: “I see the dramatic increase in ridership on my own daily bike commute, and it’s definitely more pronounced in those communities — like Arlington County and the District of Columbia — that are proactively improving conditions for bicycling and following the Bicycle Friendly Community blueprint.”

Looking for bike commute data for your area?

Click here to download 2010 bicycle commuting data for all 375 cities included in the American Community Survey Click here to download bicycle commute data from 1990 to 2011 for the 70 largest U.S. cities, including percentage of bicycle commuters and percent change Click here for 2011 state commute rates, including bicycle commuting by gender

Learn more about Bike to Work Day, find events in your area and statistics about bicycle commuting at www.bikeleague.org/bikemonth. Is your community a BFC? Find out here — and get involved in the program to make biking better in your area!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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16
May
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Riding with The World Bank Group

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

The World Bank Group has an active group of bike commuters, so when I was invited to join them on their bike convoy this morning, I jumped at the chance.

We were not only celebrating Bike to Work Day a day early, we were also celebrating their new Silver Bicycle Friendly Business award.

Neon yellow shirts were being passed out as we convened at Thompson Boat House in Washington, D.C., to ride the last 2 miles together.  It was an ecclectic group of riders: high heels, ties, dress shoes, slacks, and some spandex. We snapped photos, gave high-fives, and talked about our routes into and around the city.

Presentation of the award2

I presented the Silver BFB award to the World Bank Group this morning.

The day would be a celebratory and informative event of bicycling. Following our ride there was a Confident City Cycling class led by WABA with a bike maintenance class soon after.

The World Bank Group has been part of the Bicycle Friendly Business program since 2009 when they received a Bronze designation. Now with their recent bike facility improvements, promotion of DC’s Bike Share system through subsidized membership to employees, and increased education efforts, they moved up the BFB ranks last month.

Congratulations, World Bank Group, thanks for the ride!

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Alison Dewey
League Program Manager, BFB & BFU

Dewey joined the League in 2008. For four years prior to that, Dewey worked for Massachusetts- based Landry’s Bicycles and served on the board of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Dewey has a MA in International Relations and Communications from Boston University and is a graduate of St. Olaf College. She spent three years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal.
Original author: Alison
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Giving Joy to Those Who ‘Sacrifice in Silence’

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Mark Smith, co-founder of Bikes for Goodness Sake.

BFGS LOGO BIKEDo you remember that feeling as a kid when you got your first bike?

A close second to that feeling is giving a good kid his first great bike.

On July 4, 2008, Bikes for Goodness Sake hosted its inaugural event, giving 50 bike shop quality bikes to children of deploying soldiers in Austin, Texas. The highlight for me: The expression on the children’s faces when they approached their bike. It was heartwarming.

At that event the commanding officer, Lt. Col. Michael Dietz, said these touching words to all present: “I can walk down the street and, by virtue of my uniform, I’m acknowledged for my sacrifice to this great country. However, our soldiers’ children go unrecognized and sacrifice in silence. It’s rare and indeed humbling when someone honors the sacrifice of your families. And for that I am grateful for Bikes for Goodness Sake.”

The tears of solace and gratitude began to flow from both the volunteers and the parents of the children.

Social Code child and team cr

Since that event Bikes for Goodness Sake has been asked by scores of companies to facilitate bike build events for charitable purposes. We use only bike-shop-quality bikes sourced through our special relationship with Raleigh Bicycles. At the event, we have bike mechanics from the local Raleigh dealer to ensure all is safe for the kiddos.

The events range from a basic bike builds to fun team building events. Recipient children are identified from local charitable organizations that the company has a heart for. Bike-build teams not only build the bikes, they also make poster-size personalized cards for the children receiving the bikes.

The most amazing and gratifying part of these events are during the picture taking ceremony at the end. We surprise the bike builders by having the children rush into the room looking for their card and bike. A personal connection is made — and again tears begin to flow.

It’s one thing to donate your time and treasure to a good cause, but it’s a whole other matter when you have the opportunity to make a real and personal connection. It is never forgotten. When you can share the freedom and the joy that only a bike can deliver with a child, then you have impacted the world for goodness sake.

Learn more about Bikes for Goodness Sake here.

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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May
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Getting their Vitals: Nurses Are Up For the National Bike Challenge!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

shanermcrae

For the past 13 of 14 years, nurses have been ranked as the #1 most trusted professional in the country; so it means a lot when the American Nurses Association and the American Association of Occupational Health Nurses trust the National Bike Challenge as a way to get more people out riding!

It seems a happy coincidence that National Nurses Week is in May — National Bike Month — and we’ve been hearing a lot of buzz from the nurses about the Challenge.

The ANA featured a Bike Challenge interview in The American Nurse — their official publication — with Hollie Shaner-McRae (pictured right), a nurse from Burlington, VT. The Challenge is  ”a great opportunity to expand your usual ‘nursing practice’ beyond your regular job, and be a model of wellness in your community, church, workplace or neighborhood,” Shaner-McRae says.

Those paying attention to the Challenge may remember that Vermont finished in 2012 as the number one state, and Burlington was top in the communities category; a feat that owed a lot to Shaner-McRae’s promotion of the Challenge to other nurses.

In addition to being trusted professionals and helping to bring Bike Challenge victory to their hometowns, the nurses of the ANA see the Challenge as a way to promote their Healthy Nurse program. The goal: Not only promoting healthy behaviors (eating well, exercising regularly, and getting immunizations) through their work, but also acting as role models in their communities.

Part of the Healthy Nurse program is Healthy Weight, a more holistic approach to weight with the outlook that “ultimately, it is a balance of energy in (nutrition) and energy out (fitness).” The National Bike Challenge is a great way to add an “energy output” to your day!

So what are you weighting for? While an apple a day might keep the doctor away, a bike ride a day keeps nurses (and you) happy and healthy.

Join the National Bike Challenge at www.nationalbikechallenge.org!

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Katie OmbergEvents and Outreach Manager

Katie joined the League in April of 2010. For the two years prior, she worked at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as a programs coordinator. Katie has a BA in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She enjoys biking to work.
Original author: Katie
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Opening the Streets; Connecting Communities

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Tafarai Bayne, a board member of CicLAvia.

tafarai-2_600Waking up on April 21, reminded me of waking up on the morning of a big field trip in grade school — except today I was going right down the street from my house. Frankly, I couldn’t even sleep. This was the biggest CicLAvia ever and no one knew exactly what was going to happen.

After four events mostly centered around downtown with shifting spurs in all directions, the latest endeavor extended from the heart of the city 15 miles to Venice Beach. So many communities along the way to explore — so many Los Angelenos to meet.

It’s the unique mix of place activation and community engagement that makes this event so special and critical for the future of places like Los Angeles.

C1

In a city that is such a victim of it’s own sprawl, events like CicLAvia can help fill in the gaps that separate communities socially, economically and geographically. And much like the previous additions, CicLAvia to the Sea proved to be another notch in the belt of our amazing cities evolving waistline.

From the moment I arrived on the route for my volunteer duty at the Koreatown Hub and heard one of the volunteers yelling at the top of her lungs, arms waving, ”Good Morning LA!!! Good Morning LA!!!” the magic started to take hold.

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Evaporated like a spring shower on a warm day, gone were the differences that often prevent strangers from meeting eye-to-eye and exchanging words. They were replaced by lots (and lots) of sweaty people and pumping legs.

Gone were all the four-wheeled individual universes speeding through neighborhoods ignorant of the many nooks and crannies that represent the individual pages of the full LA story. They were replaced by curious eye’s and open hearts looking for the next corner to rest on… a new restaurant to grab a bite… some new neighborhood to explore and shops to make return visits to. In this way, the cultural salad that makes up our amazing city is put on display. Traffic jams waiting for lights become chatty speed-date sessions for new friends and riding companions.

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The real treat tends to be watching Los Angeles play though.

Some people can forget just how diverse Los Angeles is when you spend your days floating between workplaces and home lives. Los Angelenos are as diverse as the bikes they ride. From Schwinns to fixies to beach cruisers to 14-foot tall bikes to high-end racing bikes, much like LA’s famous car culture, the kind of wheels say a lot about all the different types of riders that come out to play when the cars are put away.

LA’s cultural heritage is put on display and, what I really love is that, when the field is leveled everybody actually gets along really well.

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As people made their way, at their own speed, through the communities of Downtown, Pico-Union, Koreatown, Mid-City, Culver City, Mar Vista, and Venice Beach another CicLAvia made it’s way into the history books. Soon, new communities will be introduced to what Open Streets can mean for them and the “new” Los Angeles we are getting more glimpses of will be that much closer.

Learn more about CicLAvia here.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Raising the Roof — and Funds — for Affordable Housing

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Briana Orr, a participant in Bike & Build, which organizes cross-country bicycle trips to benefit affordable housing groups.

briana“Where are you headed?”

This was a daily question we received, from inside a car or from behind a counter. Being on a bike in the middle of North Dakota does wonders to spark conversation.

My response — “Vancouver, BC!” — always created looks of disbelief or confusion.

“Canada?!”

I learned two things about long-distance bike travel that summer:

1) Traveling by bike — especially in a large group in identical attire — is a conversation starter. As my friend and riding partner Stella Day said, “It’s novel – it takes passion and dedication to ride a bike all the way across the country – and people want to know why you are riding so far.”

2) Learning the “contours of the country” is best done by bike, as Ernest Hemingway famously proclaimed. I also learned that getting to know the people and communities of our country is also best done by bike.

Why were we pedaling across the country?

Stella and I were a part of the non-profit Bike & Build, joining 31 other young adults raising money and raising roofs for affordable housing. We collectively raised $166,000 for affordable housing organizations and volunteered 1,980 hours over the course of 10 weeks. Our group, the Northern U.S. route, was just one of 10 groups pedaling for affordable housing that summer.

Over the past 10 seasons Bike & Build has donated more than $4 million; built for more than 120,000 hours; pedaled more than 6 million miles; and engaged more than 1,750 young adults in spreading the word about the affordable housing crisis in America.

Minot

Flood damaged house in Minot, North Dakota

Opening the conversation on the subject of our cross-country ride allowed us to raise awareness of affordable housing issues along the way and talk about what we saw and experienced first-hand in other communities.

In the past, I’d always traveled to experience the outdoors, not necessarily to experience the people. I sought out country roads and trails in the Northwest. I’ll admit North Dakota was never on my “must-see list.” In fact, I was not enthusiastic about riding Highway 2 all the way across the state.

But we had to. It was sitting there in between Minnesota’s 10,000 Lakes and Montana’s Big Sky country. Plus, we were scheduled to volunteer in Minot, a town that had been severely hit by floods in June 2011. Newspaper articles called it the worst flood in decades, damaging more than 4,000 homes and businesses.

And as much as I longed for the river paths in Oregon while on Highway 2, in the end I’m glad we rode through North Dakota. One image in particular will be etched in my mind for a long time:

The house was nearly bare to the studs — no doors or windows. The roof was the only thing that had been newly repaired. Our task for this “build” day was to tear down the remaining walls, which were damaged by the floods.

b&b

After working for five hours, we paused to meet kids from an after-school church group. They had come in hand with cold water and popsicles for us as a thank-you. The kids were probably no more than 7 years old. While I was saddened by the devastation and the dismal state of neighborhood, the people we met were enlivened by our presence and were so incredibly grateful. The adults we met spoke highly of the progress their community was making to rebuild.

This is perhaps the most amazing potential of a bicycle – to break down walls between our reality and other’s realities.

It forces us to see one another and to remember places for how they actually are.

Want to learn more about Bike & Build or support the cause? Visit bikeandbuild.org

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Ovarian Psycos Uniting Womyn of Color

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post features the radical revolution of the Ovarian Psycos, an all-womyn bike crew in Los Angeles.

ovarian_psychos

“Ovarian Psycos is a bicycle brigade. Ovarian Psycos is a movement comprised of young women of color who refuse to accept the status quo. We’re trying to create change in our neighborhoods, so we are forging our own path with bicycles. This is our own way of protesting. We think our bicycles are a revolutionary concept.” – Ovarian Psycos documentary

In 2010, a small band of young womyn in East L.A. found solidarity in riding bikes together — and discovered the power of the bicycle as a vehicle for revolution.

Established in Boyle Heights on the East Side of Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos host monthly rides on the full moon, raising awareness about issues that directly impact women, like domestic abuse. They’ve shattered stereotypes about bicycling with their assertive presence and slogan: “Ovaries so big, we don’t need no balls.” Both playful and powerful, they’ve reclaimed the streets with “Clitoral Mass” and created a strong voice for womyn of color in the bicycle movement.

Focused on providing a safe space for womyn of color, the Ova also become a uniting presence in their community, organizing events like the Black & Brown Unity Ride, with other diverse groups like the Black Kids on Bikes.

When a trio of Ovarian Psycos took the podium at the National Women’s Bicycling Summit for the “Beyond Spandex, Toward Social Justice” panel, they ignited the crowd. Twitter blew up with folks sharing their vision and pride. They instantly became an inspiration to everyone in the room.

I dare you to try to watch the trailer for their new documentary just once.

.Read more about the Ovarian Psycos and their work here.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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New Platinum City in Latest Round of Bicycle Friendly Communities!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Kicking off National Bike to Work Week, the League has announced its latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC), including a new Platinum-level community. Fort Collins, Colo., moved from Gold to Platinum this round, joining the ranks of Portland, Ore.;  Boulder, Colo.; and Davis, Calif., as the country’s very best for bicycling.

With this impressive round of 17 new BFCs, there are now 259 BFCs in 47 states. The BFC program is helping transform the way communities evaluate quality of life by assessing investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and municipal policies.

fort collins

City of Fort Follins, CO

“We’re excited to see another ‘Platinum’ city in the west,” said League president, Andy Clarke. “And with new cities climbing the ranks in the East, it’s clear that civic leaders are investing in their communities by embracing the benefits of bicycling. That investment will be returned many times over in the health, environmental, transportation, and quality of life benefits of a thriving, attractive community.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 8.43.34 AMSee the full list of Bicycle Friendly Communities here. An additional 18 communities received Honorable Mentions.

A bicycle culture is evident in the top BFCs, and in Fort Collins, a new Platinum community, bicycling is, simply, a “way of life.”

“A bicycle culture is key in defining the fabric of what makes Fort Collins a great place to live, work and play,” said Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat. ”We know it is a primary means of transportation for many, a major form of recreation for most, and a significant factor in attracting new businesses and new residents. Our City works alongside many community organizations to build a seamless bikeway network and ensure a safe cycling community. Bicycling is a community value and a way of life in Fort Collins.”

In the East, Cambridge, Mass., a new Gold-level BFC, has seen its ridership grow threefold in the past decade alone. Cambridge’s Harvard University was also honored with a Silver Bicycle Friendly University award last month.

“Cambridge is proud of its reputation as one of the best cities for bicycling in the U.S.,” said Cambridge City Manager Robert W. Healy. “The City has actively invested in making cycling a priority, including establishing the Hubway bike share program and creating an expansive network of bicycle facilities. The popularity of bicycling here can be seen in the exponential growth in cycling, with numbers tripling in the past decade. The bicycling culture here is epitomized in such events as the award-winning community bike rides, which highlight the collaborative nature of our work, with citizens, local businesses and the City working together.”

And the long, snowy winters in Anchorage, Alaska, which moved up from a Bronze to Silver community, haven’t put a stop to the thriving bicycling community there.

“Anchorage bicyclists are so committed to bicycling that nothing can stop them,” said Lori Schanche, Municipality Of Anchorage Non-Motorized Transportation Coordinator. “Anchorage’s eight long winter months come with darkness, frozen roads and snow but our bicyclists have adapted by gearing up with cold weather gear, lights, fat tires and studs. When summer arrives we all enjoy almost 24 hours of daylight to be out cycling our miles of beautiful trails and bike lanes.”

Learn more about the program and view the full list of Bicycle Friendly Communities at www.bikeleague.org/bfa.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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10
May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Mental, Physical and Spiritual Health — at 83 Years Young

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Mary Brown, one of the bicyclists featured in Ride in Living Color, who’s still rolling at age 83.
mary-brown-2011

My journey with cycling has taken me farther than I ever imaged.

Starting at age fifty, I chose to start exercising — doing some yoga and some running. It didn’t take long to see some improvement in my mental  and physical health. I was coping with life better, not as depressed and increased self-esteem to name a few.

Retiring at 65 and experiencing some joint pain, I added cycling to my regiment. Little did I know that at age 69 I would be one of a team of four doing Race Across America, riding from Irvine, Calif. to Savannah, Ga., with three other seniors. This was my greatest cycling experience. The benefits were many — mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Then at 81 in 2011, doing Tour de Cure ride for diabetes, I fell and broke my leg. This was my worse experience. I had always been able to get up from a fall and continue my ride. The recovery went well physically. Mentally, fear has been a very present force, slowly I am beginning to ride again and enjoying my bike.

Attitude determines your altitude — with determination, dedication and devotion each ride is a joy.

Cycling is a wonderful way to meet new people, see the world and support other.

Hear more stories like Mary’s in Ride in Living Color.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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09
May
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Infographic: What Makes a Bicycle Friendly Community?

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

To kick of Bike to Work Week, we’ll be announcing the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities — including some new cities joining the ranks of Platinum and Gold — on Monday. And, with every announcement, we always get the same (great!) questions.

What are the key components that make a community bicycle-friendly? What will it take for my community to get on the board with a Bronze designation? My city made it to Silver — how do move up to Gold? 

Well, we worked with our design partners at Language Dept to create an infographic to help answer those questions.

BFC infographic

Click here to download the PDF (to print).

Now, the beauty of the BFA program is the fact that it’s not one-size-fits-all. We’re able to take into account the unique characteristics of each community — so it’s not a rigid rubric. But we love the way this distills some of the key benchmarks and metrics in an interesting and engaging way.

So who will join the more than 250 communities that are already BFCs? Stay tuned for our announcement on Monday!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
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09
May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: World Bicycle Relief

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post features the work of World Bicycle Relief — and their new partner, Po Campo.

world_bicycle_reliefWe were about halfway through our tour of SRAM headquarters in Chicago, when we heard a strange sound coming from a small work room and caught the sight of F.K. Day.

One of the founders of the leading bicycle components manufacturer, Day was hunched over a bulky black bike next to a bucket of… corn. Attached to the side of the bicycle, operated by the spinning wheel, was a grinder that shucked the kernels right off the cob.

For F.K. and wife, Leah Misbach Day, driving innovation is more than providing the revolutionary components for the ultimate ride. It’s also about turning bikes into a flour grinder — and transforming the lives of residents in small villages in Africa.

In the wake of the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, F.K. and Leah founded the global non-profit World Bicycle Relief. In the two years following the disaster, WBR provided 24,000 bicycles to the residents of Sri Lanka, supplying a key resource to citizens in rebuilding their lives. In partnership with local aid organizations, World Bicycle Relief shifted its efforts to Africa in 2006, providing 23,000 specially designed, locally assembled, rugged bicycles to healthcare workers treating HIV/AIDS patients. And they continued to expand their efforts.

Leah Misbach Day

Leah Misbach Day

To date, WBR has supplied more than 125,000 bicycles through programs in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

At the National Women’s Bicycling Summit in September, we got a chance to see one of those amazing bikes in person — and hear from Leah about the amazing impact of WBR’s work in Africa. “When addressing global development challenges, a single-speed bicycle can improve the dignity and quality of life for women,” she says. “Entrepreneurs can get their goods to market; mothers gain access to life-saving medical clinics; girls are able to attend — and stay in — school.”

.After all, compared to walking, an individual can ride four times the distance on a bicycle — and can carry five times the amount of cargo. But, like SRAM, WBR is continuing to innovate, continuing to re-imagine how a bicycle can be a tool for more than transportation. As I saw firsthand, a simple metal device can turn a bike into a mill, eliminating the need to haul raw materials long distances and turn corn into meal in local villages.

And WBR’s reach is growing, too.

Maria Boustead, owner of Po Campo, was also a presenter at the Women’s Summit in September. Inspired by Leah’s presentation, the stylish bag maker is now a WBR partner — for every 25 bags sold, Po Campo is donating the funds for one new bike.

“WBR shares our passion for supporting girls in realizing their dreams as well as recognizing the bicycle as the perfect tool for gaining access to new opportunities,” Boustead said in the announcement this week. “By working with WBR, we are delighted to play an active role in equipping the female leaders of tomorrow with the tools they need to change the world for the better.”

Learn more about WBR here.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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08
May
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Bike to School Day Makes the Grade: All 50 States Participate in 2013

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More than 1,300 schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia took part in Bike to School Day today! Some of our Twitter followers were kind enough to share photos of their Bike to School Day fun — check it out below. How did you celebrate?

georgia

Kids prepare for the ride in Georgia this morning. Credit: @FrankMc12

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Credit: @DCxFitChic

dc2

Credit: Andy Clarke, League President

DC

Credit: Andy Clarke, League President

colorado

The racks are full outside a school in Colorado! Credit: Bicycle Colorado.

Up next? CycloFemme is this Sunday and Bike to Work Week starts Monday!

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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08
May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Connecting Kids To Healthy Foods

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Neil Walker, a leading League Cycling Instructor Coach, a youth program coordinator for Metro Atlanta Cycling Club, founder of Cycles and Change and member of the League’s Equity Advisory Council.

Two years ago, the Atlanta Bike Coalition, the Dream Team and Metro Atlanta Cycling Club partnered with City Councilman Aaron Watson to do a series of rides called “Living Smarter.” These rides were developed to support farmers markets and community gardens.

farms-3

There has always been the conversation about quality food and the fact that it isn’t affordable for those that are financially challenged. Unfortunately, whole foods are not an option when you are living on a limited budget — but visiting the local community gardens and understanding how they work, gave parents of the kids a more viable option.

The initial idea was to find a way to deal with obesity and Type 2 diabetes. We have always worked with nutrition as part of our  programming but most of it had been done through our partnership with the East Atlanta Kids Club. The Tour de Farm was different than anything else that had been done in Atlanta — an opportunity to educate our youth contingent (The Dream Team and The Drew Charter School Bike Club) on healthy eating choices and  affordable food options other than the local supermarkets.

farms

While bike tours are common, it’s not often you get to camp out on an urban farm and have a casual dinner with one of the city’s hottest chefs. The kids not only saw the backyards and patched pieces of land that urban farmers are utilizing; they also get to see behind the scenes of some of the most popular new food entrepreneurs. From experiencing sausage making to perfecting a croissant, the event highlighted the most unique and edgy parts of the Atlanta local food scene.

The response from the kids was superb; after all, they love to ride and they love to eat! The most fascinating part for me was to see them get involved. They have no problems getting their hands dirty. The knowledge they receive during those rides and the various classes have birthed two new Community Gardens in areas that were once abandoned lots.

farms-2

The other aspect is that they are aware of terms such as GMO (genetically modified organism), saturated fats, cholesterol and pesticide. They now know that “you are what you eat.” They know that potato chips and sodas are not an option — and the proper foods they should eat to help fuel their bodies on our weekly bike rides.

farms-1

It all works together, exercise (cycling), proper nutrition and the rest. Overall, it has been a success for the farms, the farmers markets and for the riders. We are looking forward to the second annual Tour de Farms and to continuing to ride, as well as educate and inform.

The collaboration of bicycling and proper nutrition is just one of the ways we are fighting against obesity and other health related disparities in our city.

Read more about Neil and his efforts in the January/February issue of American Bicyclist

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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07
May
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National Bike Challenge Spurs a Rust Belt Showdown

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There’s nothing rusty about the pointed rivalry between Cleveland and Pittsburgh — and, this month, they’re taking it to the streets (and trails). The 2013 Rust Belt Battle of the Bikes has begun, and the winner is promised bragging rights and a locally welded crown (seriously).

rustbeltposter

There’s nothing wrong with a little city competition in the 2013 National Bike Challenge – we’re impressed with the two Rust Belt cities’ devotion to winning this year. In fact, Bike Cleveland Executive Director Jacob VanSickle said trouncing its Rust Belt neighbor is embedded in the very fabric of Clevelanders.

“Beating Pittsburgh is in our DNA as Clevelanders,” VanSickle said. “This is another way to show them that we are the Rust Belt capital of biking, and that’s why we’re strongly encouraging anyone who owns a bike in Cleveland to sign up and start logging miles.”

Bike Pittsburgh‘s Lou Fineberg, program director, called the cities’ relationship “special.”

“Rooted in our close proximity and the storied football rivalry between the Steelers and Browns this was too good to pass up,” Fineberg said. “There’s very little love between these two towns. We’d like to exploit that as much as possible in the name of bike advocacy!”

And while the Browns haven’t fared too well on the field, Bike Cleveland is hoping to give its fellow Clevelanders something to root for.  Mary Lauran Hall of the Alliance for Biking & Walking caught up with Jacob, too: “Finally, we’ve found something we’re really good at where we can beat Pittsburgh — riding our bikes,” he told her last week.

But one week into the Challenge, Cleveland has some work to do. At the end of week one, Pittsburgh has more than 12,000 more miles logged than Cleveland, plus more than 400 additional individuals registered. Pittsburgh is also No. 3 in the large city category currently, trailing Madison, Wisc., and Lincoln, Neb.

But Cleveland’s not far off: They’re No. 6.

The competition is good and well, but it also shines a light on the unique bicycling challenges facing these two Rust Belt cities.

“Our cities tend to be older, the cycle of freeze thaw reeks havoc on our roads, and the public sector can be slower to adapt and embrace change,” Fineberg said. “The National Bike Challenge is such a fantastic stage to show that people in this country care about this stuff in significant measure. As advocates we can use the Challenge to shed light on issues that reach well beyond who’s ahead on the Leaderboards.”

If you haven’t already signed up for the National Bike Challenge, there’s still time! May miles can be retroactively logged until June 1! Register now. (*Disclaimer: I’m a Pittsburgh native — this coaster sits on my desk and I have a framed photo of Three Rivers Stadium in my bedroom.)

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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07
May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Recovery for Wounded Warriors

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth, who lost both her legs when her Blackhawk helicopter was shot down in Iraqi and credits bicycling as a tool of empower, strength and recovery.

Tammy DuckworthAn excerpt from Congresswoman Duckworth’s remarks at the 2013 National Women’s Bicycling Forum:

We were the top of the physical conditioning heap out of high school and college, and, if you weren’t, when you joined the military, they got you into shape. So, for the most part, we were at peak condition and, in the blink of an eye, became disabled — unable to control our bodies.

These same bodies that had been so full of vigor and energy, that had been used to flying helicopters and commanding tanks. These bodies that had been used to rescuing people and pulling buddies out of harm’s way and helping civilian populations. These bodies that responded to whatever we asked of them our entire lives, no longer responded, or they were so broken they were no longer capable of doing the things we thought they should do.

And that has a psychological toll on our wounded, to go from strength to absolute weakness. I couldn’t even scratch my nose. I couldn’t move a single part of my body, except for my left wrist. To go from commanding a Blackhawk helicopter — like I used to say, strapping that 20,000-pound machine to my back — to not being able to even roll over in bed, I needed something, and biking was it for me.

CT  MET-AJ-DUCKWORTH-AD-0927

They said, “Here’s a bike. We’ll start you in one that’s slightly more recumbent, because you’ve lost all the strength in your abs. This will cradle you and you can start to move your arms.” It was from there that I fully progressed to this bike that you see here (pictured), which, the entire thing weighs 18 pounds. I’ve done three Chicago marathons, which is amazing… I belong to two bicycling clubs, the Achilles Freedom Team, which deals with directly with wounded warriors across the country and also people with disabilities, and I also belong to the Missing Parts in Action team, which is macabre but funny, and we do the Army 10-miler and the Marine Corp Marathon each year.

What’s great about it is, for the wounded, when they start doing these marathons, you feel powerful, you feel strong, you feel in control. If your body can do this, you can do anything. And to have that as part of your rehabilitation, to know that, I can do this, gets the guys and gals thinking about what else can they do in their lives, where else can they go. They can ride bikes with their kids again. They can travel and go on trips with their spouses and bring their bikes along. It’s really quite an amazing gift to have.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth speaks at the 2013 Bike Summit

My doctors wanted me to be in better shape than I was before I lost my legs, and this was my avenue forward… My bike I can take it anywhere, and, for myself and other wounded veterans, it’s something that represents our commitment to never giving up, and striving to do things that once seemed impossible.

Our country today faces so many challenge, not the least of which is too many Americans are unhealthy. Too many children suffer from childhood obesity. Too many Americans will see their lives cut short for lack of exercise, and good nutrition. While it won’t be easy to make this country healthier, I know that it’s possible, and I know that it takes the work of everyone in this room to promote this lifestyle… For those who are disabled, staying healthy is even more difficult. Finding a way to be healthy, finding a way to connect with your family, is something you’re always looking to do, because so often you’re isolated — and biking  allows us to do that.

You know, I think of it as a leveler in a way. It’s a way we can all be on the same playing field. A way we can all enjoying the same thing. You’re seeing nature, you’re commuting together, you all have this shared experience — and you’re all on your different bikes participating in this.

Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth speaks at the 2013 Bike Summit

If you’ve never had a chance to see what disability biking is like, there’s all sort of permutations, and all sorts of amazing folks out there working with bikes. Whatever configuration you need, you can make it work. I see kids with cerebral palsy who can only move one arm. I see kids who are blind, riding on a two-seater with their parents. I see folks, like myself, who don’t have legs, so we use our arms.

I’ve got a dear friend, Melissa Stockwell, who was the first amputee out of Iraq. She was hit by an IED and now she’s a triathlete. She doesn’t have her right leg, so she does all her biking with just the left, which is quite amazing… She’s now a paralympic champion and she would not have got into this new lifestyle had it not been for those first bikes that we got at Walter Reed, that cradled us gently in the seats and helped us build back our strength.

Watch the full video of the Congresswoman’s remarks here.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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06
May
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National Bike Challenge Inspires 88-Year-Old to Keep On Riding

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Not everyone can commit to logging as many as Keren Tischler and Curt Webb, but the National Bike Challenge can be a motivatation for bicyclists at all levels.

Take Val Roemer of Menasha, Wis. She’s 88 years old and has been riding her bicycle for the better part of 70 years.

Val at GBT 2

“When I was 16, I bought my first bike from my cousin’s neighbor,” Roemer says. “Biking is wonderful exercise, plus you’re getting fresh air and seeing things you don’t see from a car: birds, the colors of the trees, flowers.”

Roemer signed up for the Challenge just before the May start with her son-in-law’s email address (she doesn’t have one).

The Challenge is off to a great start this Bike Month, with nearly 21,000 riders already registered! Our goal is to see 50,000 people ride 20 million miles — Roemer contributed to that goal this last weekend. She rode two miles on the trail near her home, which were her first logged miles for the Challenge.

Join in on the fun; Sign up today and make every mile count! 

 

My Signature

Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Overcoming Abuse, Addiction and Incarceration

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In honor of National Bike Month, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development in our with our “Where the Ride Takes Us” web series. Today’s post comes from Kristin Gavin, founder of Gearing Up, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that uses bicycles to help women transition from abuse, addiction and incarceration. 

In my early twenties I began using a bicycle for transportation, to get around Seattle and, frankly, to avoid having to pay for parking or wait for public transportation. Nearly immediately, I recognized I was arriving to my destinations in much better spirits than I would have had I driven. This enthusiasm led me to find a job as a bicycle tour guide.

Kristin Gavin, pictured right

Kristin Gavin, pictured right

Over the course of four seasons leading bicycle tours, I witnessed countless emotional and social changes among accomplished professionals and recreational enthusiasts. Week after week the same theme was unfolding: a day in the saddle can be transformative.

It’s a relational experience in which new friendships are established, new places explored, and unforgiving emotions managed. My experiences as a tour guide inspired me to return to graduate school to study exercise and sport psychology – and further investigate how physical activity can be an effective intervention for adults managing anxiety and depression.

Gearing Up is a result of my master’s internship experience at a women’s residential recovery home in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia. Founded on National Bike to Work Day in 2009, Gearing Up is a Philadelphia-based non-profit organization whose mission is to provide women in transition from abuse, addiction, and incarceration with the skills, equipment, and guidance needed to safely ride a bicycle for exercise, transportation, and personal growth.

.While in transition, bicycling offers a mode of transportation, opportunities for social connectedness and employment, and positive psychological and physical health benefits. The Gearing Up program helps provide women with regular coaching, mentoring, and support to help them adopt healthy lifestyle changes, promote personal growth, and use biking for constructive confidence building as well as a healthy, practical means of transportation.

In addition to the scientifically proven benefits of exercise in combating depression and anxiety – which for many are both root causes of addiction and obstacles to recovery – exercise-based programs build self-esteem through tangible accomplishment and the ongoing goal of positive progress. Group bike riding in particular has additional advantages, including learning how to build and maintain something valuable (the bike), gaining a mode of transportation for potential employment purposes and, of course, the camaraderie of accomplishing a common goal through teamwork.

Kristin Gavin

Bicycles – they can save the world!

Click here to watch the trailer of a new documentary about Gearing Up.

 

My Signature

Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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03
May
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How a Losing Ballot Measure Was a Long-Term Win

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Cross-posted from Advocacy Advance blog,  by Mary Lauran Hall, Alliance for Biking & Walking

EBBC_Yes_on_B1_printLast fall, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition set out a bold plan.

During the November 2012 election, voters in Alameda County considered a reauthorization of the Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax Measure. The ballot measure, Measure B1, was a 30-year plan to raise an additional $7.8 billion for county transportation needs by instituting a penny sales tax. And thanks to the East Bay Bicycle Coalition’s careful advocacy, the measure would direct more than 11% of the new funding to biking and walking projects.

The measure’s passage would be big news for transportation in Alameda. Dave Campbell, Advocacy Director at the East Bay Bicycle Coalition, knew that the measure was a golden opportunity to create a local funding source for local transportation improvements. “The county transportation agency had realized for several years now that federal funding was significantly decreasing, and state funding was decreasing even more,” Dave explained. “They needed to raise more money locally to support the projects they wanted to do.”

Staff at the East Bay Bicycle Coalition readied a full-on campaign to support the ballot measure’s passage. To bolster the organization’s efforts, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition applied for and received a Rapid Response grant from Advocacy Advance.

What happened next? Read more on the Advocacy Advance blog.

Original author: Liz Murphy
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03
May
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Where the Ride Take Us: Elevating the Voices of Delivery Cyclists

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Last year, the League celebrated Bike Month with our daily Why I Ride web series. This year, in our “Where the Ride Takes Us” series, we’re spotlighting how bicycles are tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development. Today’s post comes from Mario Giampieri, a delivery cyclist in New York City and a co-founder of the Biking Public Project.

mario_g_ybs_2012I started riding a bike in the suburbs of Denver when I was seven years old, but, as I grew up and my world expanded, distances made riding an impossible means of transportation (even my school was 20 miles away). That same mentality persisted throughout high school, especially after I turned 16 and got a car.

But, when I moved to New York two years later, I noticed that everyone that rode around on a bike just seemed so… happy. I saw people riding and they looked free and in control of how they got around, and they were always smiling.

Needless to say, I wanted in on that action.

The first bike I bought in New York was dumpy to say the least — it literally fell apart over the course of two years. One day, as I was riding, a pedal just… fell off in the middle of the street. But I guess that’s what you get when you pay $20 for a rusty road bike at a stoop sale. After that, I decided to invest some more money in my ride! Soon after, I was looking for a job and a friend of mine delivered cookies. I realized that getting paid to ride a bike was about as good a gig as I could ever hope for, and started delivering for this bakery. After about a year-and-a-half, and several vicious struggles between fellow delivery workers and management, most of us quit. They cut our hourly rate (which was $5/hr, plus tips) and were generally very nasty to us.

Over the course of the next year, I started delivering for another four restaurants at various levels of frequency, and was generally happy doing it. The money was usually decent, although it fluctuated quite a bit (as it goes, when you depend on tips). I’ve been doored on several occasions on the job, and have been in a number of other accidents in the line of work, which of course went on no matter what the weather was like. Sadly, tips didn’t often reflect conditions, and were often stingy even in snow storms or downpours.

From Bicycle Utopia's

From Bicycle Utopia’s “Am I Invisible? A Portrait of New York City Bicyclists” Credit Andrew Shiue

After about a year and a half into this line of work, it really began to strike me as to just how much I stood out as a delivery guy — the vast majority of other delivery workers I saw out on the streets were Latino or Asian, and I became curious as to why that was. It didn’t take long to find out that there was very little being done to represent this huge, ever-present (but often ignored or scorned) workforce that provided such a widely used service to a lot of New Yorkers.

There was some existing support systems in place for traditional bike messengers, and others still for restaurant workers, but very little work has been done at this intersection of the two. It was about at this time in 2012 that Helen [Ho, now development director for Recycle-A-Bicycle] and I went to the Youth Bike Summit and realized that little work had also been done to reach out and connect with and engage female and minority riders more broadly. It was after that conversation that the two of us, along with our friends Shelma Jun and Jessame Hannus started the Biking Public Project to try and change that.

The goal of BPP: Expand local cycling advocacy discussions by reaching out to underrepresented bicyclists around New York City including women, people of color, and delivery cyclists.

From left: Mario, Helen Ho, Shelma Jun and Jessame Hannus

From left: Mario, Helen Ho, Shelma Jun and Jessame Hannus

These days, I ride mostly for fun or to commute around — the bicycle still represents freedom and a sense of agency to me, just as it did when I first saw people riding around New York five years ago. It makes it easy to travel in between places that public transportation forgot, and transforms any sort of mundane trip into a healthy endorphin rush. I recently started delivering pizzas again on the side, partially as a favor to friends at a restaurant I always very much enjoyed working for, and partially because any excuse to ride a bike for seven hours is reason enough.

I still think that being a food delivery worker is a largely thankless job, but I have high hopes that through our work at the BPP we can celebrate the diversity of the cycling community — including, and highlighting, the thriving economic system that depends on bicycles and workers — and get more delivery cyclists involved in ensuring that they can do their jobs safely (and have fun, too!).

I wouldn’t trade my years of experience as a delivery worker for anything, nor would I ever trade in the freedom my bike offers for the confines of a car.

If you’re in NYC, help BPP celebrate its first birthday on May 8!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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02
May
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National Bike Challenge Speeding Out of the Gate

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NBC_2013_web_button_200x200_022013And we’re off! The National Bike Challenge kicked off yesterday, and we’re already shattering records from last year.

Yesterday, we averaged more than 150 registrations per hour. And we blew our single day registration record number out of the water.

On May 1, 2012, we had 14,228 riders registered for the Challenge — yesterday we closed with 17,160 riders — a 21 percent increase. And we’re seeing the uptick continue today: We’re at 18,858 riders today compared to 15,795 last year, a 19 percent increase.

We’re on pace to hit 25,000 riders in the next few days.

Keep up the great work! With your help, we’ll hit our goal of 50,000 riders pedaling 20 million miles.

If you haven’t already registered, now is the time.  Whether you ride to work every day or are only dusting your saddle off for the first time in 15 years, the Challenge is for you. Visit www.nationalbikechallenge.org and make every mile count!

 

My Signature

Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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May
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Hot off the Presses: May/June issue of American Bicyclist

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Just in time for the start of May, our latest magazine is hitting mailboxes with plenty of ideas and inspiration for National Bike Month.

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To get you energized for the best month of the year, we’ve got stories on the Many Faces of Bike Month, the evolution of Cyclofemme, the Top 5 reasons to participate in the National Bike Challenge and a cool infographic on the growth of bike commuting…

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Plus, read more about the transformational work of Team Better Block, be inspired by the incredible journey of the Seattle Cycleteens, meet the members of the League’s new Equity Advisory Council… and more.

Click here to read the issue online and, if you’re not a member already, join the League to become a subscriber of American Bicyclist!

 

My Signature

Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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May
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Where the Ride Takes Us: Providing Books to Low-Income Kids

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Last year, the League celebrated Bike Month with our daily Why I Ride web series. This year, in our “Where the Ride Takes Us” series, we’ll be spotlighting how bicycles aremore than means of recreation and transportation, but tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development. Today’s post comes from Mathew Portell, the founder of Ride for Reading, in Nashville, Tenn.

During my first year of teaching, I asked my students to read for 15 minutes at home each night. One student replied that he didn’t have any books at home to read. It didn’t take me long to realize that student’s problem wasn’t unique. According to the Handbook of Early Literacy Research, the ratio of books per child in low-income neighborhoods is 1 age-appropriate book for every 300 children.

I felt compelled to do something to help my students and others like them — so I combined my passion for cycling and reading. The result: Ride for Reading.

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Our mission is to promote literacy and healthy living by donating books via bicycle to children from low-income areas. Since our start in February 2008, RfR has donated more than 110,000 books, delivering them by bicycle to kids at Title I schools.

Every month in Nashville, as many as 40 cyclists gather and ride to the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods with books in tow.  The riders arrive to smiles, homemade welcome signs, and cheering children. Once they come to a stop, a RfR representative speaks to the children about the importance of a healthy life and literacy — and describe the various types of bikes ridden by the volunteers (mountain, road, commuter, tandem, etc.).

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Then the children raise their right hand and pledge: I promise to read my book twice. I will never ever throw my book away. I will pass it on to a friend, family member, neighbor, classmate or someone else I know. And I promise to be the best student for the rest of the year

In 2011, we brought our mission to Interbike — and, with the help of several industry companies, government agencies, and other organizations, more than 100 volunteers showed up to help transport more than 2,500 books to the students of Peterson Elementary School in Las Vegas. The first year was such a success that RfR completed a second Interbike delivery in 2012 and is planning its third delivery during Interbike 2013!

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In order to help more children, we began a national push called Ride for Reading Week in May. During this week, RfR volunteers and partners across the nation host their own book delivery via bicycle.  In 2013, there are 20 cities, from Maryland to California, who will be spreading Ride for Reading’s mission to children who come from low-income areas.  The organization is ecstatic to be partnering with Colorado Women’s Cycling Project, Stan’s NoTubes, Pivot Cycles, RideKick, Primal Wear, Girl Bike Love / Cyclofemme, Global Bikes, Safe Routes Philly, Devon Balet Photography and many local bike shops across the country.  RfR is also honored to have an amazing partnership with Better World Books! which is donating thousands of books to partnering cities around the country.

In 2008, I met professional mountain biker Dejay Birtch. Since then, Dejay has supported RfR in a variety of ways, including raising funds for the organization through his 2011 Tour Divide finish. This partnership led to the launch of Team Ride for Reading in 2013! Dejay will be wearing Ride for Reading’s colors as he races nationally and internationally. The team will not only focus on winning races, but also informing the public of the need for books in the homes of children in low-income areas.

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Ride for Reading believes that education is not only found within the four walls of a school building. Within the pages of a book you can go anywhere, see anything, and experience everything. Every child deserves that despite economic status. To donate or learn more about our organization please visit us at www.rideforreading.org.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Bicycle Friendly States Ranking Announced!

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We’re celebrating the first day of National Bike Month with our new Bicycle Friendly States ranking.

For the sixth year in a row, Washington continues to lead the nation, with high performance in all categories. But up-and-coming states — including Delaware, Illinois and Arizona –  charged up the ranking in 2013, shaking up the top 10.

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Click here for full chart ranking

“We’re encouraged to see significant progress in top states like Washington, Delaware, Colorado and Oregon,” says League President, Andy Clarke. “But as the scores clearly highlight, there’s much work to be done in critical areas like infrastructure and planning in every state.”

The 2013 Bicycle Friendly State ranking is now even more comprehensive, capturing more information than ever before and delving more deeply into the issues embedded in becoming a more bicycle friendly state.

Click here to see the ranking chart.

Click here to view the map. 

Click here to see the state report cards. 

Delaware took a leap in the 2013 ranking, moving from No. 10 to No. 5 in just one year. U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) praised Governor Jack Markell, the state legislature, congressional delegation, advocacy organizations and the people of the First State for prioritizing biking.

“Creating more walkable and bikeable communities boosts air quality by reducing the amount of time cars and trucks idle on our roadways releasing harmful emissions.” Sen. Carper said. “Biking also helps decongest our transportation system, allowing individuals to spend more time working or relaxing with their families instead of wasting time and money sitting in traffic. The benefits of biking are countless, and that’s why I’m proud to support dedicated federal funding for biking and walking infrastructure, as well as the efforts of the League of American Bicyclists and others to promote biking as an invaluable piece of the American transportation system.”

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Click here to view all six maps

Also making a strong showing in this year’s rank is Colorado — and Gov. John Hickenlooper says he plans to be No. 1 very soon.

“An important part of making Colorado the healthiest state is encouraging people to be more active in their everyday routines,” Hickenlooper said. “We’re proud that our bicycle-friendly policies have skyrocketed Colorado’s rank up 20 places in just five years, and we are committed to being No. 1 in the near future.”

In the Southwest, Arizona moved back into the top 10. Among other strides, the state completed its Bicycle Safety Action plan to improve bicyclist safety on Arizona’s highways.

“The goal is to reduce the number of bicyclist fatalities and injury crashes with motor vehicles,” said Michael Sanders, Arizona Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian program coordinator. “We ‘crash-typed’ nearly 750 reported crashes that occurred over a five-year period to better define the sequence of actions leading to the collision. For example, we found that over half of all crashes occurred while a motorist was making a right turn. The Plan consists of action items addressing potential changes to policies and education programs, or new tools, such as bicycle road safety audit guidelines, to improve bicyclist safety.”

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Click here to view all of the state report cards

Learn more about the BFS program at www.bikeleague.org/states.

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Bike Month is Here: 10 Things to Get You Rolling!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

TheLEAGUE-BikeMonthIt’s here! National Bike Month starts today — a full 31 days packed with unique and wonderful events and rides that celebrate the many joys and benefits of bicycling in communities nationwide.

Sure, we say it every year, but 2013 promises to be bigger than ever. So here’s our list of 10 things to get your Bike Month rolling — and take full advantage of the BEST month of the year.

Find out what’s going on in your community: Search our national database for events in your area and get in touch with your local advocacy organization, favorite bike shop or bike collective to get plugged in to the happenings in your community.

Mark your calendar and get involved in special national events:

National Bike to School Day is one week from today: Wednesday, May 8. Hundreds of events are already scheduled — learn more here. Women unite: The second annual Cyclofemme takes place on May 12. Organize a ride in your community or join one of the nearly 200 events already planned — join the movement! The Ride of Silence, honoring bicyclists who have been injured or killed on our public roadways, marks its 10th anniversary on May 15 — find a ride in your area here. And, of course, celebrate Bike to Work Week (May 13-17) and Bike to Work Day (May 17)

Connect your event to the national movement: Download our new National Bike Month logo for your materials. Nothing says style like our updated winged wheel!

Use our free posters to promote your events: This year, we have not one, but four Bike Month posters, highlighting the diversity of people who ride. You may recognize some of our models, too. Thanks to New York City bicyclists (and advocates) Helen Ho, Karyn Williams, Ed Hernandez, and Kyle Mosholder for sharing their passion for cycling on the national level. Plus, new this year, we have a poster in Spanish, too!

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Get ideas from our updated Bike Month Guide: Need a creative new idea to get folks rolling or guidance on how to make sure your event runs smoothly? Looking for key facts and figures to convince peers and policymakers that bicycling benefits your community or quick links to helpful commuting tips? We’ve got you covered! Click here to download the rebranded and updated Bike Month Guide.

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A page from our new Bike Month Guide

Build the buzz on social media: Understanding that social media has become a critical advocacy tool, we created a new resource for 2013: a social media toolkit with plenty of sample Tweets and Facebook posts to help you engage, encourage and get folks talking about bikes in your community this May. We also created an official National Bike Month Facebook timeline cover you can use, as well.

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Promote National Bike Month on your Facebook page!

Get in the game with Bike Month Bingo: To inspire you to pedal somewhere new or use your bike in a different way, we created a Bike Month Bingo card. Download the Bingo card and stick it on your fridge or wall — and check the boxes as you ride. Once you’re done, share a picture of you with your completed card on our Twitter feed and you could win a prize!

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Join the National Bike Challenge: Now in its second year, the National Bike Challenge continues its mission to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health. Join the friendly online competition to track your miles, make new friends, compete for prizes — and help us show the power and popularity of bicycling in the U.S. by uniting 50,000 Americans to log 20 million miles from May 1 to September 30.

Tune in to our web series: We got great feedback on our Why I Ride web series last year — so we’re bringing the daily Bike Month blog posts back! This year, in line with our “Where will the ride take you” and the developing efforts of our new Equity Advisory Council, we’ll be spotlighting how bicycles aren’t just about recreation and transportation, but tools for personal empowerment, social justice and community development. Subscribe to the blog — the series starts tomorrow!

Have fun — and tell us all about it: Don’t forget to share pictures and stories with us on our Facebook page or Twitter feed. After all, YOU make Bike Month the best time of the year!

Where will the ride take you? Get involved in National Bike Month and find out!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Think You’re Committed? Meet This National Bike Challenge Duo

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kerencurtThere’s still snow on the ground in Atlantic Mine, Michigan — 17 inches, that is.

But that hasn’t stopped Keren Tischler and Curt Webb (pictured right) from hopping on their bicycles nearly every day for trips to town, work or just for fun.

What got this couple riding their bicycles? The National Bike Challenge.

Tischler and Webb’s persistence has pedaled their tiny community of Atlantic Mine to the top 10 list of the National Bike Challenge’s warm-up period, putting the pressure on cities of all sizes to try and catch up. Get this: They’ve already logged nearly 1,000 miles between the two of them!

Now in its second year, the National Bike Challenge continues its mission to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health — and it starts tomorrow!

The Challenge is simple, free and open to everyone in the United States. Sign up as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Users can download the free, GPS-enabled Endomondo mobile app to record travel distance and automatically upload their miles. Riders will compete for prizes and awards from sponsors Sierra Nevada and Scott Natural on the local and national level.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATischler and Webb have contributed a sizable number of pedal strokes toward the 1 million miles logged during the warm-up period — despite Atlantic Mine’s notorious lake-effect snow.

“The National Bike Challenge, as you can see, has been a motivator for us,” Tischler said. “It’s like having a bike buddy to ride with in challenging conditions. Our community is in the early stages of bike friendliness. We want to advance the mission of the League at the local level, so that others in our community can feel safe making the choice to go by bike.”

This year, Tischler and Webb intend to ride more miles than drive, and they’re considering ditching their car entirely.

“And it all started with wanting to ride one day a week for a summer — small steps add up to big things,” Tischler adds. “We love the freedom and the challenge. We get exercise and time to think. We feel fortunate to have the physical ability to transport ourselves — we’ll save driving for when we are physically unable to bike.”

See if you can keep up with Tischler and Webb this summer during the Challenge — register now!

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Bike Law University: Where to Ride Laws

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Bicyclists have been fighting for good roads and the right to use them since before the League of American Bicyclists was founded in 1880.

sharrowWhere to Ride laws strike at the very heart of advocacy: Bicyclists’ right to the road. When safety requires a bicyclist to take the lane, it is important that the law allows a bicyclist to do so.

In this edition of Bike Law University, we take a look at Where to Ride laws and how they have shaped bicyclists safety.

What are they?

Where to Ride laws tell bicycles, or vehicles generally, how they should position themselves on the road. These laws create and manage the expectations of road users regarding the behavior of others while traveling on the road. In most states, the law that applies to bicyclists regarding road position starts with a variation of requiring a position as far to the right as practicable.

When you talk about Where to Ride laws it is necessary to begin by defining the word practicable. In most states a bicyclist is required by law to ride as far to the right as practicable, sometimes referred to as AFRAP. The obvious and necessary question to a bicyclist seeking to comply with the law, motorists judging bicyclist behavior, and law enforcement officials tasked with enforcing the law is – what does practicable mean? So, inevitably a dictionary is consulted and we learn that it means “capable of being put into practice,” which is likely to mean one thing to an experienced road cyclist, one thing to a driver who is annoyed at a “law breaking” cyclist safely taking the lane, and a different thing to every law enforcement officer who by order or inclination enforces the law. What is practicable is often context sensitive based upon road and traffic conditions. The League generally recommends that cyclists ride in the right third of the lane with traffic.

Cyclists and police at times disagree over where on the road cyclists can ride. Cyclists have successfully fought tickets issued under Where to Ride statutes based upon exceptions in the law, including narrow lanes and hazards. Local bicycling advocates and League Certified Instructors can be valuable resources if you are ever prosecuted under a Where to Ride law. If a disagreement occurs, it may be useful to consult bicycle safety education materials and roadway design manuals. In addition, sharrows, where marked, are usually meant to serve as an indication of where to ride and can be used as an insight into official ideas of what is “practicable.”

In the states that do not use the language “as far to the right as practicable” there seem to be three reasons for the difference:

New York defines its standard in terms of a cyclist’s impact on traffic Colorado, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Washington essentially substitute “as safe” for “as practicable” Arkansas and Massachusetts do not provide unique lane positioning rules for cyclists or vehicles travelling at less than the prevailing speed of traffic

In most states there are a number of exceptions to the general requirement to ride as far to the right as practicable that allow a bicyclist to take the lane in certain situations. The seven most common exceptions are listed below:

Operating at or above the rate of speed of normal traffic flow on the roadway Passing Turning to the left Avoiding hazards or hazardous roadway conditions (usually this is accompanied by a non-exhaustive list of hazards, often including parked cars to address the door zone) Operating in a lane that is not sufficiently wide for a bicycle and vehicle to operate side by side Operating on a one-way street, in which case a bicyclist may ride near to the left side of the roadway Intending to proceed straight when the right-most lane is a right turn only lane (to avoid a right hook conflict)

These exceptions, along with the indefinite nature of what is “practicable”, can give cyclists substantial autonomy in deciding where they feel comfortable riding on a roadway given the conditions that exist on that roadway. Although these rules are usually phrased as exceptions, they can also be seen as clarifications regarding when it is practicable to ride to the right.

It is important that cyclists are equipped with the legal rights to determine where they want to ride. When conflicts over shared road space arise between bicyclists and other road users or law enforcement it is important that safety is the primary concern rather than ideas about the hierarchy of road users and good Where to Ride laws allow the cyclist to decide what is safe.

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Click here to see the full chart.

 Spotlight State – Colorado

Rather than using the “as far to the right as practicable” language of most states, Colorado says that a bicyclists shall ride “far enough to the right as judged safe by the bicyclist to facilitate the movement of … overtaking vehicles.” Unlike the confusing term practicable, this language explicitly balances a cyclist’s need for safety with demands for efficient traffic flow. Cyclists are given further control over where they choose to ride because they are not expected or required to ride without a reasonable safety margin to the edge of the roadway. In addition, the law provides for all seven of the common exceptions to the “as far to the right as practicable” rule.

The language of Colorado’s law is the result of Bicycle Colorado’s efforts after one police officer, acting upon his own unique interpretation of practicable, issued numerous tickets for failure to ride “as far to the right as practicable.” Bicycle Colorado attempted to educate the police officer regarding cycling safety and the reasons that his interpretation of practicable was detrimental to cyclist safety, but no common understanding was reached. By changing the law Bicycle Colorado was able to change this difficult to understand law to language that actually says something, and embodies the education message that would otherwise have to be done on a personal basis. Now cyclists, drivers, and law enforcement officers can simply look at the law, rather than having to resort to a dictionary and their own experiences to determine where a bicyclist can and should ride.

Why should you care?

Where to Ride laws are an important part of bicyclists’ right to the road because they regulate bicyclists’ use of the road. When safety requires a bicyclist to take the lane it is important that the law allows a bicyclist to do so. There seem to be two primary justifications for Where to Ride laws: 1) concern for bicyclist safety, and 2) concern that bicycles interfere with traffic flow. Let’s take a look at how these laws address these two justifications:

1) Bicyclist safety: Where to Rde laws are essential so that bicyclists are told to ride with traffic because they gain significant safety benefits when they do so. Bicyclists riding against traffic are more than 3 times more likely to be in an accident. To be safe a bicyclist needs room to maneuver in an emergency and the confidence to position him or herself appropriately given road and traffic conditions. The requirement to ride to the right does a great job of addressing that people ride with traffic. The seven common exceptions to this requirement provide a basis for bicyclists to position themselves so that they are visible to motor vehicle traffic, act like other vehicles, or otherwise protect themselves from turning vehicles and other hazards.

2) Bicyclists and traffic flow: Where to Ride laws address traffic flow by requiring bicycles to be operated on the far right side of the road, allowing motor vehicle traffic room to pass when a road is wide enough. Two of the common exceptions to the ride to the right requirement have a direct relationship to traffic flow.

When a bicycle is operated at or above the speed of normal traffic flow there is no traffic flow or safety reason for a bicycle to be operated in a way other than a motor vehicle, and so in most states a bicycle is not required to ride to the far right in those circumstances. When a lane is not sufficiently wide for a bicycle and a vehicle to operate side by side there is a significant potential that riding to the far right may invite unsafe passing, and so in most states a bicycle is not required to ride to the far right in those circumstances. This exception correctly prioritizes bicyclist safety over fast traffic flow. It also appears to be one of the most commonly litigated exceptions as bicyclists taking the lane according to this exception are more likely to be in conflict with motor vehicle traffic flow for an extended period of time.

Good Where to Ride laws manage the expectations of drivers and let drivers know that a bicyclist has the right to take the lane according to their personal judgment of their safety and road conditions. Bad Where to Ride laws prioritize motor vehicle traffic flow and limit the ability of a bicyclist to make judgments about their own personal safety.  Additionally, bad laws may subject a bicyclist to prosecution and a fine for attempting to ride safely. It is important that our laws prioritize safety for all road users.

Who has them?

Forty three states, and Washington, D.C., have a law that requires vehicles, or bicycles, to operate on the right side of the road and as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable if travelling at less than the prevailing speed of traffic.

As previously discussed there are seven common exceptions to this requirement, and they occur in different frequencies. The average for all states is to have slightly more than 4 exceptions. The most common number of exceptions for a state to have is 6.

(Photo: Courtesy of Benicchio on Flickr.)

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Ken McLeodLegal Specialist, Advocacy Advance

Ken joined the League in 2012 after graduating from William & Mary School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Virginia. During law school he worked for a private law firm in Cambodia and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that, Ken worked at a law firm in Orange County and a legal services provider in Seattle. He graduated from Pomona College in 2007 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He began using his bike regularly after college and has been car-free since February 2012.
Original author: Ken
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48 Hours to Go: National Bike Challenge Starts Wednesday!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

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Now in its second year, the National Bike Challenge continues its mission to inspire and empower millions of Americans to ride their bikes for transportation, recreation and better health. The friendly, online competition — sponsored by the League and Kimberly-Clark Corporation – kicks off Wednesday, May 1!

The goal: To unite 50,000 bicyclists to ride 20 million miles in communities across America.

The Challenge is simple, free and open to everyone in the United States. Sign up as an individual or as a team, log your miles, share your stories and encourage others to join you. Download the free, GPS-enabled Endomondo mobile app to record travel distance and automatically upload your miles. Compete with other riders for prizes and awards from sponsors Sierra Nevada and Scott Natural on the local and national level.

In 2012, the Challenge engaged 30,000 individual riders, 9,000 workplaces and 500 communities to ride 12 million miles. We’re already looking at breaking those records in 2013. Even before the official start, the 2013 Challenge has engaged thousands of participants. During the warm-up period, more 10,000 residents from more than 2,000 communities nationwide registered. Collectively, they logged more than 1 million miles and burned more than 37 million calories.

The Challenge isn’t just inspiring individual riders — it’s also spawning competition among communities and businesses, as well. Recognizing the tremendous resource to boost employee health, more than 3,100 companies and nonprofits have already signed up for the 2013 Challenge, including Kimberly Clark Corp., UPS, Target Corp., Facebook, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and Microsoft Corp.

Are you ready for the Challenge? Sign up at www.nationalbikechallenge.org and join us at facebook.com/nationalbikechallenge.

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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League Statement: Nomination of Anthony Foxx for Transportation Secretary

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Anthony Foxx, Candidate for MayorWhen U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced his departure, the bicycling community asked the White House to appoint a successor with a clear commitment to multi-modal solutions to local transportation challenges. Mayor Anthony Foxx clearly checks those boxes.

Under his leadership, Charlotte has invested in light rail, a bikeway network, and a bikesharing system. The city’s Complete Streets approach to building a transportation system that serves all users is a model for the nation. He clearly understands the importance of biking and walking to creating a vibrant and economically successful community where businesses want to locate; where people want to live, raise a family and retire; and where people have a real choice of transportation modes.

Cities are the economic engine of the nation and Mayor Foxx knows firsthand the importance of providing an efficient and equitable transportation system that offers real choices, while also addressing the health and safety of its residents.

We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx in his new role.

 

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Andy ClarkeLeague President

Andy Clarke was appointed to the position of Executive Director in April of 2004 after successfully leading efforts to create, interpret and implement the various transportation programs that are available to improve conditions for bicycling and walking as the League’s State and Local Advocacy Director. Before joining the League in February 2003, Clarke was on contract to provide technical assistance to the highly regarded Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center on site at the Federal Highway Administration. He is on the Board of Directors for America Bikes, and a member of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycling Professionals.
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League President to Bike Safety Summit: “Achieve zero deaths on our streets”

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

This morning, League President Andy Clarke is addressing the Bike Safety Summit in Minneapolis, convened by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and the U.S. Department of Transportation. In his remarks, he lauds a new course for transportation in the U.S. — and outlines clear steps to making biking safer nationwide.

(From left) League Andy Clark prepares to introduce Secretary Ray LaHood at the 2013 National Bike Summit (Photo by Brian Palmer)

(From left) League Andy Clark prepares to introduce Secretary Ray LaHood at the 2013 National Bike Summit (Photo by Brian Palmer)

On behalf of the entire bicycling movement, let me say a heartfelt thank you to [US Transportation] Secretary [Ray] LaHood for his remarkable and inspiring leadership of the US DOT these past four years — not the least of which has been his hosting of these two regional bike safety summits. The Secretary has set us on a new course for transportation policy in this country: a course that is built on a foundation of smart local decision-making and investment that results in solutions that serve everyone in our communities; a foundation of safety that demands responsibility from all those who use our roads; and a fundamental belief that transportation isn’t an end in itself – it is a tool to improve the lives of people across our nation.

I also want to thank administrators Strickland, Rogoff and Mendez  for their leadership of NHTSA, FTA and FHWA respectively – and, as we are in Minnesota, it would also be remiss of me not to acknowledge the huge debt of gratitude we have to three Minnesotan members of Congress who have had a profound and beneficial role in improving conditions for cyclists over the last 25 years – Representatives Vento, Sabo and Oberstar.

Mr. Oberstar complained a few years back that I had lost some credibility and authority by virtue of having lost my native English accent. To redress that, I want to draw this audience’s attention to a document released last week in the UK Parliament called “Get Britain Cycling.” The result of a lengthy parliamentary enquiry into cycling, the document has some critical lessons that are extremely relevant in the US context.

First, the document makes it very clear that despite nagging deficiencies in data and disagreement over some of the precise numbers in question, there is overwhelming evidence that cycling is a good thing for any number of pressing reasons; that we would be better as individuals, communities and a nation if more people rode more often; and that the perception that cycling is less safe than it really is significantly stifles the considerable potential to get more people riding. Exactly the same thing can be said in the United States.

Second, the recommendations of this enquiry were divided into five broad topics.

A new priority for investing public funds in cycling should establish a cycling budget equal to $16 per person per year…rising to $32 per person per year over time. We are currently at around $3….for both bicycling AND walking. We must redesign our roads, streets and communities to make cycling safe, easy and convenient using the best available design standards and operational techniques. Safe driving and enforcement of lower general speed limits and good driving behavior – including the widespread use of 20mph speed limits in urban areas. Bike education should be provided at all elementary and middle schools; and adult classes should be made widely available Political leadership can make this happen – the report calls for a national cycling action plan, the appointment of a national cycling champion, and specific performance measures and targets for cycle use and safety.

We have to adopt the very same priorities for action to achieve ZERO deaths on our streets – or as close as we can possibly get to zero.

Minnesota also points the way forward for us at the national level as it is actually doing many of these things already, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

The League is delighted to report that Minnesota is our most active state for delivering bike safety education thanks to the leadership of Bike Minnesota and their partnership with the state DOT and health community. Five years ago, there were barely a handful of certified League Cycling Instructors in the state to teach bike safety – by the end of this year there will be close to 150.

MnDOT’s leadership of the statewide “Share the Road” campaign over the years has been exemplary, as has the participation of the state Department of Health and Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota. The health community has enabled Bike Minnesota to not only teach bike safety to kids and adults but also to truck drivers, schools, planners and engineers, and law enforcement agencies, all of whom have a profound impact on the safety of cyclists and for the most part have been operating without a lot of bike specific education or experience. The state legislature also deserves considerable praise for insisting on continued funding for the Safe Routes to School program and full funding for the Transportation Alternatives program.

Whether we look at the United Kingdom, the United States or Minnesota there is an important realization that bike safety is inextricable linked to overall traffic safety. That’s why I am so glad the League has a growing relationship with AAA at the national level, and that we are sharing the stage today with AAA locally. Eliminating distracted, drunken, drowsy and drugged driving benefits everyone who walks, rides or drives our roadways. We have common cause in so many of these areas, and there is so much opportunity for technology — from photo enforcement to in-vehicle technology — to improve safety and not simply enhance the performance of cars. There remains much to be done together in the realm of driver training (and re-training) that benefits cyclists as much as anyone, and we must not be afraid of removing the driving privilege from people who are irresponsible and dangerous behind the wheel of a car.

None of this is exactly rocket science. Even with advancements in technology and research, we know what to do to make our roads safer. We know what works. Two weeks ago in Tampa, this forum heard from a community that has suffered an awful sequence and a long history of bike fatalities – many of the same suggestions were made for improvements. Here in Minneapolis we can see considerable progress being made to encourage bike use and improve bike safety where those measures are being implemented. What makes the difference? Why is Tampa and Florida not able to address these issues as effectively as Minneapolis and Minnesota, and what lessons can we learn from those differences?

Ultimately, we believe it boils down to a couple of simple things:

One, there must be clear performance measures for bike safety and traffic safety that are set at the national, state and even local level. Without performance measures there is no accountability and no incentive to act. 650 people were killed last year on bicycles in the United States – on the way to ZERO such tragedies in the future, we must set targets to reduce this toll by half in 2020 and by half again by 2025.

Second, there must be an effective and broad partnership of groups and interests working together to improve traffic safety and increase bike use – none of us can do this alone, no one group or constituency is either responsible alone or capable of solving this issue alone. In Minnesota and the UK we can see how transportation, health, and education departments are pooling resources and working together to get the job done.

Third, effective and visible political leadership is essential. We have been blessed with Secretary LaHood attention to these issue these last four years and hope that the new Secretary, Mayor Foxx will continue along that path. The leadership of MnDOT and Mayor Rybak  at the state and local level is critical, and as user groups we must be committed to working with those leaders – as Bike MN is doing so admirably here in Minnesota.

We hope these summits result in a clear national action plan for increasing cycling and cyclist safety, backed up with specific performance measures, and the commitment of time, attention and funding to make it happen.

Bicycling is safe, it is fun, and it is healthy. Let’s make sure people can do it safely, for all our benefit.

Click here to read a recap from the first Bike Safety Summit in Tampa, from the League’s Alissa Simcox.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Get Ready for Bike Month Bingo!

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This winter, we were inspired by the Chasing Mailboxes blog, which challenged bicyclists to complete at least seven different errands by bike: the Errandonnee! That great idea got us thinking about National Bike Month — and all the different ways we enjoy biking in our daily lives. So we created a Bike Month Bingo card to challenge YOU to pedal somewhere new or use your bike in a different way.

bingo

Download the Bingo card and stick it on your fridge or wall — and check the boxes as you ride. Once you’re done, share a picture of you with your completed card on our Twitter feed (@Bikeleague) and you could win a prize!

And don’t forget to check out all the other Bike Month promotional items, from a Facebook timeline cover to your choice of four difefrent Bike Month posters here.

Five days and counting until the best month of the year…!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Celebrate Stress Awareness Month — On Your Bike!

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The Good LifeApril is National Stress Awareness month, in addition to what I call “Get Ready for National Bike Month Month.”

I don’t know about you, but when I haven’t been riding for a bit — and then get back on my bike — I realize how tense I’ve been. We all have crazy lives, and, as it turns out, bicycling is both a stress-awareness and stress-fighting tool.

A few years ago, Bike Radar talked to Neil Shah, director of the Stress Management Society, about the mental-health benefits of cycling.

“Cycling is one of the most effective treatments for stress and in many cases has been proven to be as effective as medication – if not more so,” he said. “Riding a bike is ideal because it’s so accessible and achievable – and the mountain of scientific evidence pointing towards its stress-busting properties is growing by the day.”

So, I wanted to give a special shout-out and thank you to Bicycle Friendly Communities in Washington, D.C., where I work, and Arlington, Va., where I live. These cities have made my ride to and from work pretty comfortable and relatively hassle-free.

I know I’m preaching to the choir — but it’s a reminder of how bicycling transforms our lives for the better.

So help us spread The Good Life from coast to coast this May. Bring friends and colleagues, start a team for the National Bike Challenge and get involved in National Bike Month!

 

Bill Nesper

Bill NesperLeague Vice President of Programs

Nesper directs the Bicycle Friendly America Program, which includes the Bicycle Friendly Community, Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly University and Bicycle Friendly Business recognition programs. Bill first joined the League as a Membership Assistant in 2002 and moved in 2005 to manage the League education programs and Bicycle Friendly Community Program.
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Calling All Club Leaders: Join the National Bike Challenge!

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shelliBike club leaders from across the country joined League staff and the Kaw Valley Bicycle Club (KVBC) on Tuesday night for a dynamic and educational webinar all about what the National Bike Challenge can do for your club and your community.

Shelli Shipps of the KVBC fielded questions from attendees and the League’s Alison Dewey, giving some great insight into her experiences with the Challenge in 2012 — including winning a Specialized Globe bike (pictured) — and what KVBC plans to do in 2013.

“We competed against each other, but we also competed as a town” she said, describing the competition between KVBC and local advocacy group, Topeka Community Cycle Project. “We would have rides, and then hang out afterwards and discuss different things going on in the community as far as bicycling.” Now, the Topeka Community Cycle Project and the KVBC are working together on how to increase biking in their town!

If you missed the webinar, click here for the full recording or watch it below! While the entire recording lasts an hour, there’s a table of contents in the description where you can jump to any section that you find interesting.

.Club involvement, like that of the KVBC, is what makes the Challenge the incredible resource and event that it is. To build on that momentum, in 2013, we ensured that team sizes are unlimited (rather than capped at 10 riders), and have created a selection of promo materials that anyone is encouraged to use.

Join the Challenge today at www.nationalbikechallenge.org!

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Katie OmbergEvents and Outreach Manager

Katie joined the League in April of 2010. For the two years prior, she worked at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as a programs coordinator. Katie has a BA in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She enjoys biking to work.
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Boost your Bike Month with Social Media: Webinar, Videos & a Toolkit!

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It only took a single day and a few short Tweets.

Veronica Davis, co-founder of Black Women Bike DC, wanted to engage her local elected leaders in National Bike Month. Her goal: Get all female members of the D.C. City Council out on bikes. She didn’t write a formal letter, or send an email to their overloaded inboxes. She simply invited the policymakers to join BWBDC on Bike to Work Day — on Twitter.

Within a few hours, Council members Mary Cheh, Yvette Alexander and Muriel Bowser had all committed to get in the saddle.

BWBDC tweet

Yep, there’s power in that little bird.

Understanding that social media has become a critical advocacy tool, we created a new resource for National Bike Month this year: a social media toolkit with plenty of sample Tweets and Facebook posts to help you engage, encourage and get folks talking about bikes in your community this May. We also created an official National Bike Month Facebook timeline cover you can use, as well.

sm-toolkit-image

Click the image to view / download

But a good social media strategy is much more than cutting and pasting 140 characters. At the 2013 National Bike Summit, we brought together a panel of social media experts to share their insight on how to use these new (OK- maybe not so new) tools to compliment and enhance bicycle advocacy efforts. Watch the videos below for ideas and guidance from Barb Chamberlain, Mathilde Piard and Mary Madden.

 

 

.But that’s not all! Interest was so high in the topic — and the confines of a single Summit workshop couldn’t possibly capture the full breadth of social media opportunities — that we partnered with the Alliance for Biking & Walking for a full webinar on Social Media as an Advocacy Tool yesterday. Check it out below!

.Click here for key points and notes from the webinar, courtesy of Mary Lauran Hall at the Alliance.

How have you used social media to engage folks in your community? Let us know in the comments. And stay tuned for more ideas during National Bike Month.

(Summit videos courtesy of Russ Roca, www.pathlesspedaled.com)

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Women Bike Wednesday: CycloFemme Poised to Double Rides in 2013

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Exactly one year ago, I blogged about a new, exciting event taking place during National Bike Month. The first annual CycloFemme event sprung from the vision of Sarai Snyder, a former bike shop owner and advocate who turned her passion for women’s cycling into a popular blog: GirlBikeLove.

But she didn’t stop there.

Sarai Snyder (center, white hat)

Sarai Snyder (center, white hat)

“Despite the website’s success as an online forum for news and reviews, I often felt we were missing something bigger — a deeper, richer connection for women who ride bikes,” Snyder writes in the latest issue of the League’s magazine. “I couldn’t help but feel we needed the camaraderie of shared experiences to bring us all together. That desire for that shared experience evolved into CycloFemme — a single day that would unify our voices and showcase the diverse power of women who ride.”

That single day was Mother’s Day — May 13, 2012 — and the call to action was simple: Organize a women’s ride or event in your community. “It doesn’t matter if you ride a mountain bike or a road bike, if you commute to work or ride to the store,” Snyder says, “it’s about starting that conversation that we need to be working together.” The response was tremendous: Women across the globe planned 164 rides in 14 countries.

Collage

The day of CycloFemme 2012 Snyder’s phone was buzzing at the break of dawn, the start of a tidal wave of social media updates and connections. “It started in Australia with seven rides spread across the continent,” she recalls. “Next was Afghanistan, where a woman named Jerusa would ride with friends, later joined by her sister-in-law, riding in Pennsylvania. Soon, ladies in the UK bundled for the chill and threat of rain. For 24 hours, the rides and stories and pictures poured in, across international border, across all time zones — all in the name of CycloFemme, celebrating women in cycling.”

Tattoos

“The beauty of the day was the diversity of riders who joined us. We became a tribe of friends old and new,” she continues. “We rode as casual riders, road racers, coffee sippers, beer drinkers, cake eaters, gritty mountain bikers, mothers, daughters, fathers, sons and professional athletes. We saw beautiful images of women on bikes stream onto social media, with Instagram and twitter feeds populating the CycloFemme site — and immediately felt an amazing camaraderie with strangers. With images of women showing off their CycloFemme tattoos on biceps and calves, we saw women willing to commit, at least for a day, to be part of something bigger.”

And you better believe this year is going to be even bigger than last. When I caught up with Snyder on April 24, 2012, approximately 80 rides had been organized and registered on the site. This year on the same day? Nearly double that many have been organized…

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 8.03.16 AM

There’s still plenty of time of get involved — and Snyder has mapped out the five steps to planning a ride and provided all the resources you need to bring CycloFemme to your community, including this great poster:

CF_Share_Poster

So why does this one day, this one ride, hold so much power? Why is it important that “We Ride Together”?

“For me, watching the movement grow has been both inspirational and empowering,” Snyder says. “I’m continually humbled by the courageous stories of women riding bikes in Afghanistan, Ghana, and Ethiopia. I’m constantly energized by women who are not just riding bikes themselves but actively working to enable others to ride with them. As we approach the second annual celebration of women in cycling, CycloFemme has become more than a ride; it’s a movement, a feeling, a spirit, a tie that binds and reminds, that whenever we ride, we ride together.”

Find a ride in your area or register an event in our community here. And tell us where you’ll be riding in the comments!

(CycloFemme design by Language Department)

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Summit Follow-up: Indiana Advocates Host Congress Member at Ride Event

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The 2013 National Bike Summit ended more than a month ago, but local advocates have taken the discussion home — and they’re seeing results.

During Lobby Day, advocates urged their elected officials on Capitol Hill to visit one of their district’s bike projects. These ‘Show Me’ events work to showcase for elected leaders what bicycling means to their home district constituents. We’re excited to see advocates following up on these requests and getting their elected officials on bikes! Earlier this month, advocates in Georgia got their local lawmaker’s staff on a bicycle, and they also helped secure a city resolution declaring the need for better bicycle infrastructure.

And this past weekend, we were delighted to hear that advocates in Indiana hosted Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) at a 10K bike ride and benefit. Darlene Wefel, of the Evansville Bicycle Club, invited Bucshon, who is a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to Saturday’s Evansville Rockin’ River City Ride.

buschondarlene

Wefel and Bucshon pose at the Rockin’ River City Ride in Evansville, Indiana

There were 605 riders, with routes ranging from a 5K family ride to a 100K ride, and the event raised money for the Junior League of Evansville and the Evansville Morning Rotary Club.

“The morning was very cold for the time of year with temperatures starting in the mid-30,” says Wefel. “Mayor [Lloyd] Winnecke introduced Congressman Larry Bucshon who spoke about health and being active and how important it is to the youth of our city, state, and country — that cycling and walking are great ways to keep active and healthy. He officially started the ride with an air horn. Congressman Bucshon was joined by his wife and their children to ride the family 10K route.”

buschonspeaks

Rep. Bucshon speaks at the event on Saturday.

Congratulations to Wefel and the other advocates in Indiana for their work on this event and ongoing efforts! In fact, as Bike Month nears, it’s perfect timing for you to encourage your elected officials to events in your communities! Learn more about Bike Month here.

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Apr
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BFB Spotlight: Texas Instruments Helps Build 35-Mile Trail

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For folks of a certain age, the mention of Texas Instruments takes us back to high school math, poring over our trusty calculators to get through our algebra assignments. But TI is making a name for itself beyond the classroom — and out in the community.

TI’s headquarters in Dallas, Texas, employs 6,500 people (all of whom probably got As in algebra) and their leadership’s commitment to bicycling as a viable commuting option secured them a Bronze in our latest round of Bicycle Friendly Business awards.

Texas Instruments employees o Bike to Work Day

Texas Instruments employees on Bike to Work Day

David Thomas, TI’s Vice President of Worldwide Facilities, is an avid cyclist, and said TI has made investing in bicycling resources — like bike racks, repair stations and onsite showers — is a priority for the company.

“Texas Instruments sees great value in supporting alternative commuting solutions for employees,” Thomas says. “We want to make it easy for our existing bike commuters to get to work safely and to encourage more employees to try biking to work. We continually seek new ways to educate, encourage and engage employees in safe bike commuting.”

TI’s commitment shone through its work to help secure funding and ensure construction of a 35-mile bike trail within its community. TI worked with the local government, donated land to Dallas County and provided seed money to help kick off the $6.5 million Cottonwood Trail extension project. What’s more, the company committed to matching any employee donations to the project, in addition to offering project management support.

But that’s not the only reason TI should be proud of its work:

It maintains a Commute Solutions program, which encourages transportation alternatives like subsidizing carpools and mass transit, in addition to offering bicycling amenities. This program also has an online forum component, which allows its employees to chat about their routes and share tips. It sees the value of the National Bike Challenge, and it has provided employee incentives for participation. Leadership offered 10 TI cycling jersey for riders who exceeded 2,000 points in the Challenge. It hosts Bike to Work Days, as part of Bike Month, annually and has seen a steady increase in participation.

Keep up the great work! And check back for future profiles of leading BFBs.

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Campaign Update: PA Moves Towards Dedicated Biking & Walking Funding

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Cross-posted from Advocacy Advance blog.

Thanks to great grassroots advocacy, Pennsylvania just got a little closer to recognizing walking and biking as truly integral components of the state’s transportation system.

Republican state Sen. John Rafferty, chair of the Senate transportation committee, introduced a bill last week that would create dedicated funding for walking and biking paths in the state. He also plans to propose a Complete Streets policy — a bill stipulating that transportation planners consider people traveling by bike, on foot, and by transit in addition to by car.

The dedicated funding provision will be attached to a larger statewide transportation funding measure and would raise $2.5 billion for transportation in the state annually by drawing on wholesale fuel taxes.

This is Pennsylvania’s first commitment to designate specific transportation dollars for active transportation — and it will have a huge impact on walkability and bikeability in neighborhood streets. Governor Tom Corbett’s Transportation Secretary Barry Schoch acknowledged that the state’s engineers and planners routinely try to incorporate bike and walk infrastructure into construction projects, but often lack funding to do so. With dedicated funding, cities and towns will have clear budget sources for active transportation projects.

To read the rest of this post, click here.

(Photo: The new Pennsylvania funding measure could support rail trails like this one. Credit: Richard Masoner/Flickr)

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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New Bicycle Friendly Businesses Announced!

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As businesses race to retrofit their buildings, streamline waste policies, and purchase more and more recycling bins, some companies have already targeted a free and easy way to be more environmentally conscious: bicycling.

On this Earth Day, the League of American Bicyclists announced 63 new Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) from across the country that are leading America toward a greener future.

Cottonwood Trail Opening 2010

The BFB program has now expanded to 44 states and Washington, D.C., and these new awardees join a visionary group of more than 500 local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies across the United States that are transforming the American workplace.

Click here for the full list of BFB awardees. 

“More and more business leaders are realizing that bicycling is a simple and cost-effective way to move toward a more productive company,” says Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “Promoting healthy transportation is increasingly attractive to employers and prospective employees – and it’s moving America toward a more sustainable future.”

Bicycle-friendly businesses encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike. Through cost-effective investments, BFBs attract, reward and retain staff that are not only healthier and happier, but more productive, driven and passionate about the work they do and the communities they live in.

Award winners in this round include:

Texas Instruments Inc. (Bronze) Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Neenah, Wis. (Moved from Silver to Gold) The World Bank Group (Moved from Bronze to Silver) Peace Corps, Seattle and Chicago offices  (Bronze)

Texas Instruments, a new Bronze-level BFB, worked with its local government to secure funding and build a 35-mile trail that will enable employees to bike to work safely, in addition to widening transportation options for those living in the community. TI also has employee representation on the City of Dallas Bicycle Advisory Committee as it updates the Dallas Bike Plan.

“Texas Instruments sees great value in supporting alternative commuting solutions for employees. We’ve invested resources to build bike paths that connect to local trails, added bike racks, repair stations and onsite showers, and created social networks that support TI bike commuters,” says David Thomas, Vice President of Worldwide Facilities at TI. “We want to make it easy for our existing bike commuters to get to work safely and to encourage more employees to try biking to work. We continually seek new ways to educate, encourage and engage employees in safe bike commuting.”

To apply or learn more about the free BFB program, visit the League online at bikeleague.org/businesses

(Photo: TI employees bike along the Cottonwood Trail, the path for which the Texas company helped secure funding.)

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Social Media: So Nice We’re Doing it Twice

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It was a full house at this year’s social media session at the National Bike Summit.

Mathilde Piard, Mary Madden and Barb Chamberlain took all of us through a quick rundown on who’s using what; how to maximize your blog and some do’s and don’ts of Facebook and Twitter. Needless to say we had a session packed with content and also an eager audience looking to learn how to take this work back to their advocacy organizations.

(From left) Barb Chamberlain and Mathilde Piard talking social media at the Summit

Barb Chamberlain and Mathilde Piard talking social media at the Summit (Credit: Brian Palmer)

While we covered a great deal of content in our short time together, we wanted to continue the conversation with a follow-up webinar. So we’ve partnered with the Alliance for Biking & Walking to host another panel of social media experts to review some of the highlights from the Social Media session and answer some of your pressing questions.

Join us this Wednesday, April 24, at 2 p.m. EDT for “Social Media as an Advocacy Tool” — register here

Mathilde Piard will be back with her expert insight, along with several others, giving the most up-to-date info on how to use Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms as a means to propel your advocacy initiatives and engage your audience. In the meantime, see what we’re up to by following @BikeLeague on Twitter and Facebook.

Till we Tweet again!

 

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
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BFU Spotlight: Harvard Shines with Silver Award

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Harvard joined the ranks of Bicycle Friendly Universities this past week, rising to the ranks of Silver status in its first award. Joining Princeton and Yale as Ivy League BFUs, Harvard certainly has plenty to brag about.

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“Harvard is extremely proud to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly University,” said Lisa Hogarty, vice president for campus services, in a University news release. “While the work of our CommuterChoice team has been exceptional, our initiatives and programs are successful because of the complete support and enthusiasm of Harvard’s biking community. Being named a BFU highlights just how strongly students, faculty, and staff are committed to using alternative forms of transportation.”

Harvard has reason to be proud:

Approximately 17 percent of its campus commuters used bicycle as their primary means of transportation last year. It’s home to almost 400 bicycle racks, creating about 4,000 spaces for bicycles on campus. It’s invested more than $600,000 in the Hubway bike share system, of which Harvard has sponsored 12 stations throughout Cambridge and Boston (oh, and they have two other Bikeshare programs, known as CrimsonBikes and Read & Ride Bikeshare, too). The university is also an active participant in the Cambridge Bicycle Advisory Committee.

What’s more, it offers a Departmental Bike Program, which gives all schools and departments at Harvard the option of buying bicycles for campus transit. The program, which involves 20 Harvard departments currently, aims to reduce automobile trips and air pollution and increase the health of those on campus.

“Our students, faculty and staff have created a vibrant bicycling community and, in partnership with Harvard’s Schools, departments and community partners, we’re working to make the University safer and more accommodating for bicyclists,” Harvard University Commuter Choice program coordinator Ben Hammer told me this week. “Harvard’s strong support for bicycling makes the University stronger and helps our community explore alternatives to driving that are healthier and better for the environment.”

Keep up the good work! And keep an eye out for award announcements for our other Bicycle Friendly programs in the coming weeks!

(Photo credit: Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Florida Bike Safety Summit Reinforces Need for Education

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lahoodstricklandIf you want to confront the issue of bicycle safety, Florida, unfortunately, is the right place to go.

The Sunshine State has had 534 cyclist fatalities between 2006 and 2010, and since 1998, Hillsborough County has averaged 8 bike-related deaths every year.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced USDOT would host two Bike Safety Summits at our 2013 National Bike Summit in March. He hosted the first of those bike safety summits in Tampa, Fla., last week. The summit connected engineers, safety experts and law enforcement from state and local levels to find ways to improve cycling safety.

But that wasn’t all. The call for better biking came from beyond the traditional fold, too. It was so great to hear Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn — not someone who would identify as an avid cyclist — say the revitalization power of bikes is evident, and active mobility is essential to creating quality of life.

Bicycle Friendly Communities come in all shapes and sizes – there are currently 242 BFCs in 47 states. These cities show that through bicycling, communities can become destinations for people who want to work, live and retire. Having grown up in Florida myself, I never considered riding a bike for transportation until I moved to Washington, D.C. It was exciting to be surrounded by so many bike enthusiasts whose goal for the state is the same as the League’s – get more people on bikes.

While there were many suggestions on how to get more people riding, one thing was common in every discussion – education. Everyone agreed that it’s not just the people who are riding that need it: motorists need education on how to share the road and law enforcement need to know how to implement bike laws. Here at the League, we’re taking a comprehensive approach to get everyone involved.

We help cyclists become confident and safe on the roads through our education program. We’re working with city officials — and law enforcement — to improve conditions for bicyclists and make sure our rights are respected. And, yes, the National Bike Summit plays a role, too. Just a day after Secretary LaHood announced the Bike Safety Summits, AAA presented its new PSA, highlighting the need for all road users to safely share the road.

As for me, it made me even MORE excited about our new library of free education videos that we’ll be debuting during National Bike Month. Stay tuned!

(Photo: LaHood speaks with Buckhorn at the Florida Safety Summit).

 

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Alissa SimcoxLeague Director of Education

Simcox joined the League in July 2011. For the 5 years prior, she worked with the Congressional Youth Leadership Council and the National Association of Home Builders. She holds a BA in Education and Recreation and Leisure Administration from Florida State University.
Original author: Alissa
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Webinar: Federal Performance Measures

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AA logo verticalColor copyThe future of federal transportation policy may be summarized in two words: Performance Measures. Will states be required to set safety goals for people on bikes — or will we get lost in the shuffle?

The transportation bill — Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, MAP-21 — requires states to set performance goals across several categories. The details of these goals will very likely determine transportation priorities well into the future.

Join our next Advocacy Advance webinar on Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. EDT for the first our series on Understanding and Shaping Transportation Performance Measures.

This webinar series will explore the implications of the new performance measure requirements in MAP-21. How will performance measures impact bicycling and walking investments? Can they work in favor for active transportation? What should be measured? What can be measured? Join the discussion with national experts on the topic.

First up on Tuesday, we’ll find out the latest on federal performance measure policy from two experts from the U.S. Department of Transportation and our own Caron Whitaker, the League’s Vice President of Government Relation.

Part I: Federal Context and Perspectives Tuesday, April 23 @ 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EDT -Register here

Presenters:

• Rebecca Higgins, Transportation and Environmental Policy Analyst, Office of the Secretary of Transportation

• Robert Ritter, Acting Safety Team Leader, Office of the Secretary of Transportation

• Caron Whitaker, Vice President of Government Relations, League of American Bicyclists

Part II: Current Data Collection Methods and Exploring What’s Possible Tuesday, May 14 @ 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EDT – Register here

Presenters:

• Charles Denney, Alta Planning + Design

• Jean-Francois Rheault, Director, Eco-Counter

• Tony Hull, Senior Planner, Toole Design Group

• David Patton, Bicycle & Pedestrian Planner, Arlington County Division of Transportation

Advocacy Advance is a partnership of the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking.

 

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Darren FluscheLeague Policy Director

Flusche joined the League in April 2009 and has a B.A. in history from Syracuse University and a Masters of Public Administration with a concentration in public policy analysis from New York University.
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BFA: The Next Generation

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When Wayne Byrd came up with the concept for Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) and the League took that idea to the national level, we knew it would be a powerful tool to make biking better for millions of Americans. But we’re happy to admit: We didn’t think we’d get this far this fast.

In our latest issue of American Bicyclist — the 10th Anniversary of the Bicycle Friendly America program — we give you a glimpse at the next generation of the BFA program. From communities to businesses, we’re continuing to raise the bar for leading communities and corporations that want to improve cycling for their residents and employees.

Last year, for instance, we announced our new Diamond BFC designation — an award that challenges and guides our top Platinum communities to become world-class cycling cities. In this Anniversary issue, Bill Nesper, our VP of Programs, shares the full story behind the development of this new award and how we’ll measure success…

Diamond-graphic

“We never thought Platinum would be the end of the road, the pinnacle of bicycle friendliness,” Bill writes. “But the degree of innovation and pace of improvement in the top BFCs blew us away. We knew we needed new ways to support and challenge the Platinum-level communities. And they were eager to step up their game, too. Last year, we had a call with advocates and city staff from Davis, Boulder and Portland. The consensus was clear: ‘We need a higher bar. We need you to push us to become even better — and give us clear metrics to make our communities world-class cycling cities,’ they said.”

So what will it take to be world-class?

“Attaining Diamond is different than any other BFA designation,” Bill explains. “The biggest change: Defined minimum requirements for ridership, safety and bicyclists’ perceptions. Right now, the average Platinum-level BFC has a bicycle mode share of 12 percent. To get to Diamond, you’ve got to hit at least 15 percent. But that’s not all.”

Read the full story starting on page 14…

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Apr
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Calling 50,000 Bicyclists: Are You Up to the Challenge?

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NBC_2013_web_button_200x200_022013In 2012, more than 30,000 Americans joined the National Bike Challenge and rode more 12 million miles between May 1 and August 31. During that time, the Challenge’s online community blossomed into a vibrant help-desk for all sorts of questions on bicycling, with discussion and ideas from expert roadies to people just learning how to ride in the rain.

Well, the Challenge is back in just a few weeks — and this year we’re raising the bar.

Our goal: 50,000 riders logging 20 million miles!

The Challenge is a great opportunity for people who have been cycling for years to increase their riding and also a great place to start for folks just dusting off their bike seats for the first time in years. Not only does the Challenge encourage participants to make every mile count through individual riding. But by forming teams, awesome sportsmanship and friendly rivalries add a few degrees of excitement to your summer!

One of the standout groups from the 2012 Challenge was from Topeka, Kansas. The Kaw Valley Bike Club was just as surprised as anyone that a group of people from a state that doesn’t immediately come to mind as a bike paradise was a top contender, but if you read this interview, you’ll see why they did such a good job. The members of the KVBC team encouraged each other to ride to up their teams’ numbers across their friendly competition.

Want to learn what your club can do to get folks involved in your organization, the Challenge, and riding more? Make sure to join our Club Leadership Webinar on Tuesday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. EDT. We;ll be joined by the League’s Alison Dewey, Rob Gusky of Kimberly-Clark, as well as Shelli Shipps of the KVBC. Get ready to learn the tricks of the trade from the best!

Register now to get warmed up before the official start on May 1!

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Katie OmbergEvents and Outreach Manager

Katie joined the League in April of 2010. For the two years prior, she worked at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as a programs coordinator. Katie has a BA in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She enjoys biking to work.
Original author: Katie
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Building Shared Language for Shared Goals

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Hand pedaling to the capitol (Credit Alliance for Biking & Walking Photo Library)Often when we use a term, we fail to grasp its full impact or the significance of the context in which it is being used. To get a sense of what I mean, ask a sampling of people what they understand the word “race” to mean, and you’re likely to get answers that span multiple meanings.

While this dexterity in language can be exciting and useful for those of us cashing in on that high-wage-earning English degree, multiple uses in language can act as barriers to mutual understanding — and in many cases progress. So instead of playing one big game of organizational telephone, the Equity Advisory Council is working to create some working definitions in which to frame the complicated conversation around making biking accessible to all.

Recently the group developed some shared definitions around some key terms that kept popping up in our conversations on this topic. We wanted to ensure that, when these terms are used, everyone has a clear sense of their implications, usage and meaning. While these definitions are being utilized by the Council — and likely the League — they are not by any means the only appropriate definitions for these terms. We’d love to get your feedback on how others have used shared language to have difficult conversations in their communities and what other terms might be helpful in moving these conversations forward.

Here’s what we came up with:

Diversity:

The acceptance of members from different types of self identified groups into an organization or unit.

Diversity includes all the ways in which people differ, and it encompasses all the different characteristics that make one individual or group different from another. It is all-inclusive and recognizes everyone and every group as part of the diversity that should be valued. A broad definition includes not only race, ethnicity, and gender — the groups that most often come to mind when the term “diversity” is used — but also age, national origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, language, and physical appearance. It also involves different ideas, perspectives, and values.

Victor_Jose_mediumInclusion:

The act of creating environments in which any individual or group can be and feel welcomed, respected, supported, and valued to fully participate. An inclusive and welcoming climate embraces differences and offers respect in words and actions for all people.

Inclusion integrates the fact of diversity and embeds it into the core mission and institutional functioning of an organization. It is the active, intentional, and ongoing engagement with diversity —  in communities with which individuals might connect — in ways that increase one’s awareness, content knowledge, cognitive sophistication, and empathic understanding of the complex ways individuals interact within systems and institutions.

Equity:

The guarantee of fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of certain groups. The principle of equity acknowledges that there are historically underserved and underrepresented populations and that fairness regarding these unbalanced conditions is needed to assist equality in the provision of effective opportunities to all groups.

Equity is the just and fair inclusion into a society in which everyone can participate and prosper. The goals of equity must be to create conditions that allow all to reach their full potential, erasing disparities in race, income, ability, geography, age, gender and sexual orientation.

Are there other terms or definitions that you’ve found essential to having productive discussions about Equity, Diversity or Inclusion in cycling? Share them with us and others and who knows we might be able to develop some other common definitions.

Want to help us define our focus on Women and Equity here at the League? You can do just that by filling out our Women & Equity survey so we can make sure our work around equity shares and advances your work, too.

Photos: Alliance for Biking & Walking Photo Library

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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How One Member’s Idea Has Transformed the Nation

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Wayne Byrd (BFA history)In this issue of American Bicyclist, we mark a major milestone for the League: the 10th Anniversary of the Bicycle Friendly America program. Since its inception, the initiative has boosted biking in more than 700 communities, businesses and universities.

So who dreamed up the idea for this roadmap to bicycle-friendliness?

Well, the BFA program didn’t get its start here at the League office in D.C. It wasn’t launched in a city known for cycling or by one of our hundreds of advocacy affiliates, either.

Nope, it started in Kansas — Overland Park, Kansas.

As Hamzat Sani, our Equity and Outreach Fellow, writes in this issue:

“For Wayne Byrd (pictured above right, below left), the Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) concept was a combination of his two passions. Byrd had his second date with wife, Anne, on a bike and worked as a public servant and elected official in Overland Park, Kan., for more than 16 years. In 1993, he was inspired by the Arbor Day Foundation’s Tree City program. “As an avid bicyclist,” he says, “I wondered why there wasn’t a similar program to encourage safer bicycling in urban and suburban areas.” So Byrd set out to create that program — an initiative that would recognize communities that were making strides for bicyclists and create clear criteria for others looking to get on the path to better biking.”

Scanned-photo-1

How did it evolve from one member’s dream to a national program with hundreds of designations? Read the full story

Make sure you get American Bicyclist delivered to your mailbox; join the League today!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Women Bike Wednesday: Introducing Women Bike PHL

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Women Bike PHLEven before the start of the National Women’s Bicycling Forum in March mountain bike legend Jacquie Phelan was all fired up. Sure, she was psyched to participate in our national event, but the Forum wasn’t the only exciting engagement on her travel itinerary. She was also gearing up to be the star of another show: the launch of Women Bike PHL.

In the bustle of the Forum, I only had a few moments to check in with Katie Monroe, the leader of the new women’s campaign from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. But, given Philly’s growth in cycling and the amazing work of the BCGP, I certainly wanted to learn more. So who better for this week’s Women Bike Wednesday…

The BCGP is so great at gathering data — what have you learned about the number and attitudes of women riding in PHL?

With the help of many volunteers, the BCGP holds bike counts each fall at 17 intersections and bridges throughout the city. It’s been a great tool to allow us to see shifts in overall bicycling rates through the years. Between 2005 and 2010, the average number of bikes per hour counted grew 127%, but the percentage of women riders only grew from 26% to 32%. For the past two years, we’ve stagnated at 33%. There are also trends correlated to infrastructure: the gender gap shrinks significantly on streets with bike lanes. Check out our 2011 report, Mode Shift, for more info. (Editor’s note: Take her advice, great report!)

What was the inspiration to start a women’s-specific program / outreach?

The Bicycle Coalition has been thinking about this issue for a while. Personally, I actually came to it from an academic angle. In 2011-2012, I wrote my undergraduate anthropology thesis on the role of gender in the Philadelphia bicycling world. That research process really opened my eyes to the vibrant conversation that was starting to happen, both here in Philly and across the U.S., about the gender gap in bicycle ridership. In my academic work, I was interested in the gendered implications of that conversation: What does the way we talk about women bicyclists (or the lack thereof) reveal about how our society views women? Working at the Bicycle Coalition, I’m excited to be able to work on the more pragmatic side of the issue: What can we do, now, to get more women riding bikes? I think it takes more than just bike lanes (even though I love bike lanes!) to make women feel more welcome in the bicycling community.

What are the main objectives for the program?

diane_pinder

Our mission is to make bicycling more fun and feasible for Philadelphia women of all ages and backgrounds. We don’t expect to close the gender gap overnight. This is a complicated process and it’s exciting to see all the different approaches that different cities and organizations are taking. But if we can encourage new riders, start to see that gender gap shrink, and celebrate the amazing lady bicyclists we already have in Philadelphia, Women Bike PHL will be a success! I’m excited to see how it will evolve and expand as we move forward, find new funding sources, and build momentum.

What are the main components of your Women Bike program?

Women Bike PHL is a multi-faceted campaign, with new possibilities popping up every day. We’re offering classes, including Learn-to-Ride and Urban Riding Basics, targeted to women. Sometimes this means that we make an existing class of ours women-only, to create that safe space for folks who want it, and sometimes it means partnering with a women’s group or organization to offer a class. For example, this summer we’ll be teaching a Fix-a-Flat class during Ladyfest Philadelphia, an activism, arts, and music festival centered around women.

Take Your Time Ride — Monroe in the I Bike PHL t-shirt! (Credit Blake Larson)

Take Your Time Ride — Monroe in the I Bike PHL t-shirt (Credit Blake Larson)

We’re also working with bike shops, arts organizations, and more to offer fun, introductory group rides for women — our first was a “Take Your Time” ride in conjunction with a local woman-owned bike shop. In addition, we want to facilitate a citywide conversation about women and bicycling, so we are holding some events and forums on this issue: we did an presentation with Temple University’s Sustainability Office and Women’s Studies department this week, and are excited to host feminist bicycling activist extraordinaire Elly Blue on her “Dinner and Bikes” tour in May.

Finally, we want to raise the visibility of the many women who are already riding in Philadelphia, so we are set to launch weekly Women Bike PHL profiles on our blog, highlighting a diverse set of Philadelphia women who love to ride! I also see a lot of potential for collaborating with two of the other bicycling nonprofits we have in Philadephia: Gearing Up and Neighborhood Bike Works.

I know Women Bike PHL is taking an all-ages approach; tell us more about what that means and how you’re making it happen.

Take Your Time Ride (Credit Blake Larson)

Take Your Time Ride (Credit Blake Larson)

If we’re going to be serious about expanding ridership to more women, we can’t just look at college students and young professionals without kids. We have to get that little girl on her first balance bike to carry that joy through to her adult life; we have to get that new mom to see a bicycle as a viable way to transport her baby; and we have to get our grandmothers out there on bikes, too. My paternal grandparents rode bikes well into their old age, and really valued it as a low-impact form of exercise. I actually ride my grandmother’s old bike around Philly!

Some of this work is encompassed in what we’re already doing at the BCGP — expanding our bike lane network and regional trail network in particular — but I think we can do more to target the female demographic. Partnerships with girl-serving organizations, the local Kidical Mass group, children’s museums, and retirement communities are all in the works. Bicycles have this huge potential to carry you through your entire life, both for transportation and recreation, and I hate to see so many women missing out on that option.

How are reaching beyond the converted? I know you mentioned some exciting partnerships you’re developing, like the Girl Scouts?

I was a Girl Scout for 10 years, and I think it’s among the most powerful and far-reaching networks in this country for reaching and teaching girls. I’ve created a bicycling skills and safety badge (which does not currently exist in this area) and we are encouraging local troops to earn it. Girl Scouts of Eastern PA is sponsoring a Girls Triathlon/Duathlon in August, so I think this badge will be a great way for the girls to both prepare for that challenge, and also learn about some of the other possibilities for bicycling, besides racing.

How long did it take to develop your program and how did you launch it in your community?

We started with a small advisory committee of interested community members, just to start the conversation. There seemed to be plenty of enthusiasm and interest, so we moved forward in creating some language for the campaign, a logo, a website, etc. Our Facebook group attracted almost 200 members in just a few days, and we received a lot of positive feedback from our members about Women Bike PHL, as well. I’d say we’re still in the process of “launching it in our community” — every day I talk to new women (and men) about ways they can get involved. I think it’s good to stay open to a lot of options at this point for community support and collaboration.

What have you learned thus far and what’s your next step for the program?

The best thing I’ve learned thus far is the value of collaboration, info-sharing, and looking to others for inspiration. I have met so many wonderful people (of all genders)  working in the bicycle world, and I am constantly inspired by them. Liz Jose of WE Bike NYC and Nelle Pierson of WABA’s Women & Bicycles program have been particularly supportive, and I hope what we’re doing with Women Bike PHL can inspire and help someone else with their efforts.

My next step, at the moment, is making sure we harness our various Bike Month festivities in May to really get the word out about Women Bike PHL, so we can build the community support and partnerships we need. I’m excited!

Thanks, Katie!

Learn more and connect with Women Bike PHL:
Website: www.womenbikephl.org
Facebook: Women Bike PHL group
Twitter: @bcgp #womenbikePHL
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Bicycle Friendly America Program Marks 10th Anniversary!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

The latest issue of our American Bicyclist magazine is a transformation on two fronts. At the National Bike Summit this year, we revealed the new face of the League — a fresh look and branding that honors our past and looks to the future — and the March-April edition is the first issue of the redesigned magazine.

But this magazine also showcases a transformation that goes far beyond the pages of American Bicyclist — or even the League itself.  A decade ago, we launched a program that in just 10 years, has guided hundreds of communities, businesses and universities to make biking better.

In this issue, we mark the 10th Anniversary of the Bicycle Friendly America program.

.“The results [of the Bicycle Friendly America program] have been impressive,” League president, Andy Clarke, writes in his opening letter. “Since 2000, Bicycle Friendly Communities have seen an 80 percent increase in bicycle traffic — compared to just 32 percent in non-BFCs. We’ve applied the model to businesses, universities and states to tremendous effect, as well. Companies are saving thousands of dollars per person in health-care costs. Colleges and universities are using the program to meet sustainability and mobility goals. And states are developing tourism and economic development strategies around bicycling.”

Now, I know I’m biased, but this may be our best issue yet — showcasing the history and future of the BFA program, great graphics and, of course, the latest (and longest!) list of current BFA awardees. Read it online now, or become a member to make sure you get American Bicyclist delivered to your mailbox.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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16
Apr
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Webinar Recording: Getting Moms and Families on Bikes

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Kit Hodge wrote the book on family cycling — or, at least, the Family Biking Guide from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Martina Fahrner started one of the first bike shops in the country aimed specifically at family transportation options and Megan Odett created the National Family Biking Survey, curating insight and ideas from moms and dads from coast to coast.

And, last week, all three of them joined us for our latest Women Bike webinar on “Getting more Moms and Families on Bikes.” If you missed it, watch the full recording now!

.Didn’t catch all that great information and insight? Click the links below to download the presentations and key resources mentioned during the webinar.

Click here to download the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Family Biking Guide — in English, Spanish or Chinese.

Click here for the presentation from Megan Odett, of Kidical Mass DC, including steps to hosting an ABCs of Family Biking event in your community

Download the results from the National Family Biking Survey:

Part I: Overview Part II: Destinations and Motivations Take the survey!

Click here for the presentation from Martina Fahrner, co-founder of Clever Cycles in Portland, Ore.

And don’t miss some additional ideas from Cycles for Change in Minneapolis on reaching out to low-income moms and families in our Q&A yesterday.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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Bicycle Friendly University: Ivy League Continues the High Marks

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It looks like the age-old rivalries among the Ivy League are taking a new shape: the race for gold in bike-friendliness.

Harvard University now joins the likes of Princeton and Yale as Bicycle Friendly Universities (BFU).

Today, the League of American Bicyclists announced the designation of 14 new Bicycle Friendly Universities, expanding the program to 58 colleges in 30 states across America.

Click here to see the full list.

BFU logo“More and more young people are getting on their bicycles instead of in their cars,” says Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists. “The League commends universities like Harvard that are embracing that trend by providing better access and improved safety for bicyclists on their campuses.”

At Harvard, a new Silver-level BFU, there are plenty of options to travel by bike at the Cambridge, Mass., campus. With a Departmental Bike Program — which involves 20 departments and offers the purchase of bicycles over reliance on a car or taxi around campus — and two bike share programs, Harvard has cemented its commitment to bicycling as a sustainable, healthy and environmentally conscious transportation choice.

“Our students, faculty and staff have created a vibrant bicycling community and, in partnership with Harvard’s Schools, departments and community partners, we’re working to make the University safer and more accommodating for bicyclists,” said Harvard University Commuter Choice program coordinator Ben Hammer. “Harvard’s strong support of bicycling makes the University stronger and helps our community explore alternatives to driving that are healthier and better for the environment.”

boise_state_3bThe high marks don’t end with the Ivy League. Also taking home honors this round is the University of California, Berkeley, which received a Silver award for its efforts to make bicycling accessible on campus.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award from the League,” says Greg Haet, Chair of the Campus Bicycle Committee at Berkeley. “The number of students, faculty, and staff coming to the campus by bicycle continues to increase, and we’re working hard to make Cal a better place for our growing cycling community. This award confirms that we’re on the right track, and motivates us to continue making improvements.”

In the Midwest, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was awarded with a Silver, as well. The campus’s new Outdoor Adventure Center is just one of the reasons the Lincoln, Neb., university received the award. It provides bicycle repair opportunities, access to 24-hour end-of-commute shower facilities and bike locker storage. The University is also working on a new master plan, which will include multi-modal transportation priorities and projections for new bike infrastructure.

“The Bicycle Transportation Committee has worked diligently to evaluate, assess and execute a number of initiatives to support the university’s goal of becoming a Bicycle Friendly University,” says Steve Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln spokesman. “Bicycling is on the rise at UNL, and is increasingly seen as a healthy, supportable method of getting to, from and around campus. We’re pleased that UNL’s new designation will bring renewed attention to the university’s as well as the City of Lincoln’s progress in this important area.”

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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Apr
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Successful Outreach to Low-Income Women and Moms

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Last week, Women Bike hosted its latest webinar on “Getting More Moms and Families on Bikes” — with a great line-up of panelists and an amazing turn-out of engaged participants. Stay tuned to the blog tomorrow for the recording and slides!

One common barrier that came up during the conversation was the up-front expense of family-oriented gear and the challenge of engaging low-income women and families in riding. It’s certainly a big issue that we’ll be digging into more deeply, but I was immediately reminded of the amazing work around this issue being done by Cycles for Change up in Minneapolis.

Following-up on the discussion last week, I checked in with Claire Stoscheck, the Cycles for Change Community Partners Bike Library Director, to provide some insight into their successful efforts to engage women and moms from diverse economic and racial demographics….

Claire Stoscheck,second from right, discussing Cycles for Change equity efforts at the 2012 National Women's Bicycling Forum

Claire Stoscheck, second from R, discussed Cycles for Change efforts at the 2012 National Women’s Bicycling Summit

Cycles for Change is really committed to equity in its programming; how does that extend to your outreach to women and families?

The goal of Cycles for Change is getting access to bikes and bike education to the communities most underrepresented in the bicycle movement and culture. Apart from targeted outreach through community partners to diverse economic and racial communities, we also work to eliminate the gender gap in cycling, as well as empowering women riders by working with community partners who are led by and for women in the Twin Cities. Through our Community Partners Bike Library program, we provide women with free bikes to borrow (fully accessorized for transportation purposes), as well as trailers and tag-a-longs for people with children. We have found that many women — in particular women from the diverse immigrant communities in the Twin Cities — do not know how to ride a bike. We teach extensive Learn to Ride classes to adults in order to open up the world of cycling to more women.

What specific programming do you offer that makes cycling more accessible to low-income and underserved communities? What barriers have you discovered — and overcome — for women with this program?

Training the trainers for Cycles for Change Learn To Ride program

Training the trainers for Cycles for Change Learn To Ride program

The programs we offer to make biking more accessible include the Community Partners Bike Library, in which we partner with 18 community partners to lend 275 bikes and 30 trailers to low-income community members, following up with bike education classes and leadership development programming. We also offer an Earn-a-Bike program where participants can learn basic bike mechanics and volunteer six hours in order to earn themselves a bike free of charge.

These programs help to overcome one of the major barriers for low-income women: cost. The programs are completely free of charge. In addition, the Bike Library teaches Learn to Ride classes so women who don’t know how to ride can learn, and we offer child trailers to accommodate women with kids. The Bike Library loans bikes that are customized for each individual, so that we find the right fit for women no matter her size or shape and provide her with a comfortable ride.

Finally, through our leadership development we are working with and empowering women leaders in the bike movement from diverse backgrounds who then are inspirations to others in their communities to break cultural norms and ride a bike, despite the taboos.

What has been the response or feedback from participants or the community?

The response to the Bike Library has been tremendously positive. You can read some of the stories and testimonials in the 2012 Bike Library Zine called “Pedaling Forward”– just click here to read some amazing stories about the joys of cycling by participants in the Bike Library!

What advice or tips would you have for other advocacy organizations, bike shops or co-ops who are starting outreach to women generally or moms / families specifically?

Be conscious of access to bikes and trailers, and find a way to provide women with free or very affordable bikes. Be conscious of women with families, and offer trailers and tag-a-longs for the kids. Try partnering with non-profits that work with diverse communities and have bi-cultural and bi-lingual experience who can help bridge language/cultural barriers. Offer child-care and interpretation/translation. Be aware of structural barriers that women face to biking, including poverty and double responsibility (in our patriarchy, women are expected to not only work but also do the bulk of housework and care-taking). Work to change the structures! For more information please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.cyclesforchange.org

What’s your organization doing to engage moms — from diverse backgrounds? Share in the comments!

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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11
Apr
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Bicycle Law University: Distracted Driving

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month and there are numerous national, state, and local campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of not putting down your cell phone behind the wheel.

distracted drivingNew laws to combat distracted driving are proposed frequently, including laws against new technologies that are not even on sale yet. Despite a high level of awareness, 49 percent of commuters and 43 percent of teenagers admitted to texting or sending emails while driving,according to a recent poll conducted by AT&T.

Sharing the road is much harder when people are not looking at the road. Effective distracted driving laws and enforcement are key to discouraging this dangerous behavior.

What are they?

Generally, distracted driving can be caused by any activity that can divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. Although distracted driving can take many forms, distracted driving laws are primarily a response to the spread of mobile communications devices into our vehicles. The most common distracted driving laws include bans on text messaging, bans on cell-phone use, and the required use of a hands-free device while operating a mobile communications device in a vehicle. These laws can either be primary enforcement laws, which means a driver can be pulled over solely for violating the distracted driving law, or secondary enforcement laws, which means that the distracted driving law can only be enforced if another traffic offense also takes place.

Why should you care?

In 2010, 18 percent of injury crashes were reported as distraction-affected crashes. The prevalence and use of mobile communications devices has increased dramatically in the last decade and is likely to continue to increase. Safe bicycling and safe driving requires an awareness of your surroundings that is made more difficult by the use of mobile communications devices in vehicles. Distracted driving laws are important because they encourage people to stay focused on the task of driving and can be used in legal actions resulting from collisions or other incidents between road users.

If you would like to know more about the dangers of distracted driving, particularly distracted driving caused by the use of mobile communications devices, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the US Department of Transportation (DOT) have a great site with links to research and reports on the issue. For some information about how MAP-21 provides incentive grants for distracted driving programs please see this report put together by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety or this press release from NHTSA.

Who has them?

Thirty-nine states ban text messaging for all drivers, and 33 states ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. Ten states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. To learn more about the various laws targeting distracted driving please see the excellent information put together by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

distracted driving chart

Click on image for full chart. Credit: GHSA.

Spotlight State –New Jersey

New Jersey has some of the strongest laws in the country to combat distracted driving. It is one of only two states — the other is Delaware — that has primary enforcement laws against all cell phone use by school bus and novice drivers, text messaging by all drivers, handheld use by all drivers, and includes a category for cell phone/electronic equipment distraction on police accident forms, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.  Every year since 2008 New Jersey drivers have been issued about 100,000 summons based upon illegal talking or texting while driving. Recent studies have shown that strong texting bans can reduce fatal single-occupancy, single-vehicle crashes but that vigilant enforcement is needed and concurrent handheld bans increase the effectiveness of texting bans.

Where did they come from?

Distracted driving is a relatively new issue and has been addressed in a variety of ways by states. In 2000, only three states had laws related to cell phones in cars. Oregon was the first state to make distracted driving a priority by incorporating it into their Strategic Highway Safety Plan in 1999. Since 2000, every state has considered legislation related to cell phone use in cars or distracted driving, and almost 200 bills were considered in 2009 alone. As of the last revision to the Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC) in 2000, there are no UVC sections relevant to distracted driving.

(Photo Credit: Alliance for Biking & Walking Photo Library)

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Ken McLeodLegal Specialist, Advocacy Advance

Ken joined the League in 2012 after graduating from William & Mary School of Law. He is a licensed attorney in the state of Virginia. During law school he worked for a private law firm in Cambodia and the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. Prior to that, Ken worked at a law firm in Orange County and a legal services provider in Seattle. He graduated from Pomona College in 2007 with a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics. He began using his bike regularly after college and has been car-free since February 2012.
Original author: Ken
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10
Apr
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Women Bike Wednesday: Jess Matthews & the Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit

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JessJess Matthews is one of those magnetic people who’s passion and energy are evident within moments of meeting her. Lucky for Ohio — and bicycle advocates nationwide — her passion is getting more women on bikes.

After attending the League’s National Women’s Bicycling Summit in Long Beach last September, the Safe Routes to School Manager for Consider Biking got the wheels rolling for a women’s summit in her state. With the Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit exactly one month away, I wanted to learn a little more about Matthew’s background and get a behind-the-scenes look at the organization and focus of perhaps the first stand-alone state summit specifically focused on women and bicycling.

So what’s your story, Jess? How did you get into biking?

One of the repeated questions that takes up space in my mind is, “How will I be remembered when I die?” I want to be remembered as a leader passionate about making her city (Columbus) more people-focused, specifically, a city that places priority on bicycling and walking.

I lived and went to art school in San Francisco back in the day and started bicycling there. The ease of using my bike in SF didn’t click until coming back to Columbus and experiencing how challenging and unfriendly it was here. Not only did I get crazed looks when I was on my bike trying to get to my destination, my being a woman trying to get to my destination via bike I think compounded those stares. Experiencing how difficult it was here, I started to become involved in local bike events and bike organizations, like Consider Biking. My youthful passion and determination led me to become a board member of Consider Biking. At that time, I was the youngest person on the board and the fourth woman on the board. Long story short, funding became available, I interviewed and the rest is history!

What inspired you to host an event around women cycling — rather than an outreach campaign, ride series, etc?

Actually, I am not only organizing — along with two incredible women — the first statewide Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit. I actually created an outreach program directly geared towards young girls in marginalized neighborhoods — Girls in Gear — and I lead what has become an explosive ladies’ ride here in Columbus: 2 Wheels & Heels.

Girls in Gear

Girls in Gear

The future face of biking is going to be women and families and I am passionate about the empowerment of women and girls. I whole-heartedly believe that it is critical that city officials, such as Mayors and Directors of Public Service, grasp that the success of their cities will revolve around transportation options for ALL. City streets need to be re-designed so that everyone feels invited to enjoy their public space, including women. Our city leaders must comprehend that our streets need to be “designed” and not “engineered.” They need to be designed with women and children in mind and, if they are not, then more designing process needs to take place.

In the past two years, there’s been HUGE momentum to decrease the gender gap when it comes to men and women on bikes. When I attended the Women Bike gathering in Long Beach, Calif., I knew what I needed to do when I returned to Columbus: continue the momentum here and create the first Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit. I’m a “do-er!”

Who’s behind this event and how did you rally the coalition / support required to put on the Summit?

One evening, I had asked a couple of colleagues of mine to meet me for a beer. During that meetup, I said, ‘Would you two be interested in helping me organize the first statewide Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit?” Their answers: “HELL YES!” It was a pretty easy sell.

Ohio-Womens-Bicycling-Summit-banner-revised-small-300x176Jeannie McKenna Martin is our Acting Director of Consider Biking and runs her own landscape architecture business and Mimi Webb is the Sales and Operations Manager of the Trek Bike Stores here in Columbus. I specifically thought of these two because they’re ‘do-ers’ as well. We’ve been organizing and planning since last October. I couldn’t have asked for better partners.  Trek Bikes and ROLL are two of the local bike stores that jumped all over this Summit and have been extremely supportive. Support from businesses, city leaders, women and men have been paramount.

Overall, there’s been this missing niche of women-on-bikes empowerment that we’re tapping into—  and people are excited. Women e-mail and tell me ‘Thank you! I’ve been waiting for something like this!’  This past year, Columbus celebrated its bicentennial birthday and our focus was to brand ourselves as “Open & Smart.” The Ohio Women’s Bicycling Summit exemplifies this.

Are you focusing in on certain issues or topics? What are the key objectives or take-aways of the event?

The Summit’s mission is simple:  To engage, educate, and activate more women in Ohio to ride bikes. We came up with five categories speakers including economics, fashion, dispelling barriers, bike mechanics and riding for transportation. We specifically wanted to keep the topics broad, so they’re able to reach and touch as many types of women riders as possible. Based upon responses after the Summit, we’ll see which topics were of most value and plan accordingly for next year.

2 Wheels and Heels winter mechanics class

2 Wheels and Heels winter mechanics class

You’ve attended the past two Women Bike gatherings — how have past events informed what you’re doing with the Ohio Summit?

I think / feel that both Women Bike gatherings have guided me towards the thought that no matter where you live (California, North Carolina, or Ohio) the issues that women face and struggle with when it comes to the barriers of riding are the same. How do we achieve “choosing” the bike? It’s going to take years — decades! — here in America but the conversation has begun, and that’s the first step. I think just the idea that we’re putting something together here in Columbus, completely women-specific is bold and says, “Hey, we know the importance of women’s inclusion and understand the leadership that women possess, and if you get women to collectively support a cause with purpose, it usually succeeds.”

Are you getting push-back around it being an event “for women”? Why go this route rather than co-ed?

The only push-back I’ve received is that guys want to attend which is pretty awesome! I went this route because I know and understand first-hand the importance of empowering women. Women and men are different. We work through our processes differently. I have found and watched through both my “2 Wheels & Heels” ladies’ rides and “Girls in Gear” program, that there’s an enhanced comfort level when it’s “women-only.” There’s a greater sense of kinship and encouragement that I’ve seen — and its incredible. The women and girls learn from one another and are more prone to help one another and not judge them for any lack in knowledge. It’s the whole ‘Lean In’ experience that I feel you just can’t have if it were to be co-ed.

What are some cool, innovative things you’re doing with your event that are new or creative approaches?

Well again, I think just beginning the conversation here in Columbus, Ohio of actually having a statewide Women’s Summit is innovative, cool, and creative! People presume that these kinds of events are more apt to be held in bigger metro cities like D.C. or Long Beach — but it’s just as critical of a need here as it is in other cities. This being the innaugural Summit, we’re keeping it pretty controlled. I love measuring outcomes, so after our first Summit, obtaining post-Summit surveys given to both attendees and presenters for next year, will allow us to build and maneuver our creativity and innovative approaches with a bit more ease. This year is about starting the conversation with hopes of watching it blossom into an endless field of women and bikes! (Cheesy but true!)

What are YOU most excited about?

I’m excited that other women and girls are excited. I get pumped when I hear women say, “We need this and I’m excited you’re doing this!” I’m excited that middle and high school girls are attending, as well as grandmothers. I’m excited to continue this Summit to where, two or three years from now, it becomes the “Midwest Women’s Bicycling Summit.” What can I say, I’m a visionary!

Stay tuned to the blog each Wednesday for profiles and coverage of women’s cycling efforts in communities nationwide.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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05
Apr
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New League Staff: Meet Jakob Wolf-Barnett

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

head shotThe League is excited to announce the arrival of a new member of our staff: Jakob Wolf-Barnett. Jakob is our new Chief Operating Officer, and he brings years of experience in the biking industry to the League. What’s Jakob’s story? Here’s a quick Q&A on Jakob’s background…

What’s your first memory of riding a bike?

It was a feeling of total freedom and independence when I was five years old. Riding the ½ mile to a nearby bakery with no pesky, parent-imposed rules and no limit on how fast I could go was life-changing! Well, as life-changing as an experience can be for a 5- year-old. Checking out the world by bike was empowering for me as a kid and continues to provide me with the same feelings many years later.

What’s your background in the biking industry?

Working in retail. I was fortunate to be able to spend the past 5 ½ years working for an amazing group of IBD [indepedent bicycle dealer] shops in the D.C. metro area — Revolution Cycles — as their COO.

What got you interested in working for the League?

It’s simple: I love bikes and think that they can be part of the answer to many big problems faced by our society. I have a deep passion for getting more people riding and having cycling become a part of their life, however large or small. The League works towards those goal on a big scale and I believe in the mission and want to help.

What will your average day look like here?

Doing whatever I need to support the League staff and the mission.

What bike are you riding now and what inspires you about cycling?

I’m lucky enough to have more than one bike, and my favorite is an older Gary Fisher Simple City 3-speed. Fenders, big comfy bars and the ability to carry everything with me on my bike. What’s not to like?! What inspires me about cycling now is no different than when I started: The freedom and mobility that comes with experiencing D.C., the Shenandoah Valley or wherever I happen to be by bike.

 

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Liz MurphyCommunications Manager

Ms. Murphy joined the League in January 2013. She previously worked as a reporter covering the Justice Department. Liz has journalism and women's studies degrees from Penn State University. She commutes to work on her bright red bike daily.
Original author: Liz Murphy
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04
Apr
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Equity Advisory Council Update and How YOU Can Get Involved

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Exactly two months ago we gave our dedicated blog followers a sneak peak of the newly selected Equity Advisory Council, before its formal announcement at the National Bike Summit. Since then, the Council has been busy meeting, reviewing League policy and organizational history and informing League resources.

The day before the Summit, all members of the Council gathered for this first time, getting to know each other, becoming familiar with the League’s inner workings, and meeting with the League’s Board of Directors. During the first Council meeting, members learned about League history before launching into a fruitful preliminary discussion about how to update, expand and enhance the organization’s policies, outreach and programming to be more representative and inclusive. The Council then ended the day having dinner with the League’s Board of Directors, who pledged support for the work and (coming) recommendations of the Council.

The Council had its first monthly (virtual) meeting this week, defining and solidifying key terminology around the issue of equity. We will be sharing some of these definitions and terms with you soon. Next on the Council’s buffet-sized plate is setting some concrete goals and outcomes to help keep our collective eyes on the prize: better cycling for ALL!

We’re doing our best to synthesize all the great research, ideas and people we encountered at the Summit; keep up with a fast moving Equity Advisory Council and gather information from YOU about the great work being done around Women and Equity around the country, as well as the best ways to support you in your efforts.

How can you get involved in this important work? Click here and fill out our mini-survey on Women and Equity by April 12.

Want to stay connected to the Equity Initiative at the League of American Bicyclists? Stay tuned to this blog, keep a lookout for a dedicated page on our new website and shoot me your questions, suggestions and critiques: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 (Photo: Equity Advisory Council and League Board dinner. Credit Brian Palmer)

 

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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03
Apr
0

We’re Hiring: Join the League as Our New Development Director

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

LAB_FB_profileThe League is seeking an ambitious Director of Development to lead the organization’s development plan, with a strong emphasis on major donor development.

We are looking for an experienced fundraising professional with proven success in building a major donor program and experience in all areas of fundraising. This position reports to the Chief Operating Officer and works closely with the CEO and Board of Directors to implement an aggressive fundraising plan.

The ideal candidate will bring passion, fundraising experience, strong communication skills, and, as you may have guessed, a personal connection to bicycling is preferred.

Interested? Check out the full job posting here and send your cover letter and resume to Jakob Wolf-Barnett at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Original author: Liz Murphy
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02
Apr
0

Women & Equity Survey: Share your Efforts

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

eboni(web)The League wants your help in advancing equity and women’s participation in bike advocacy. You game? We thought you might be.

We’ve recently launched two initiatives to start institutionalizing some real change. The Women Bike program is empowering, engaging and elevating more women to get on a bike and ride, as well as influence the bike advocacy world. We’re also developing a full-scale Equity Initiative, with our new Equity Advisory Council charged with guiding the organization’s efforts to become a model for equity, diversity and inclusivity both in its internal and external programming.

Both initiatives are off to a great start — and now its time to make sure we keep the momentum going by highlighting the work you’ve done and are doing around equity and women in biking. We need your help to:

Identify initiatives related to equity and women around the country Understand what resources would be helpful to YOU as we move forward Benchmark key demographics among cycling organizations currently

So please take a moment to fill out our brief, online survey by April 12th — and circulate to other organizations that might be interested, as well.

***Extra bonus: Is there work around issues of equity or women in cycling that you can’t wait to tell someone? Well, stop waiting and post in the comments section. Who knows? Your story might be our next post!

(Photo: Eboni Hawkins of Red, Bike & Green – Chicago is a member of the League’s Equity Advisory Council. Credit Brian Palmer)

 

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Hamzat SaniEquity and Outreach Fellow

Hamzat joined the League in September 2012 after working with the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition. Before working in biking, Hamzat worked with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son as a Program Associate at The King Center in Atlanta. A founder of the Red, Bike and Green chapter in Atlanta, Hamzat sees biking as a hub for change on the communal level.
Original author: Hamzat
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02
Apr
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Women Bike Webinar: Getting More Moms and Families on Bikes

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

Kidical Mass 2010

Research consistently shows that women shoulder more of the household responsibilities, including childcare and transportation. Whether running errands or shuttling kids, women often face additional considerations when it comes to getting around by bike.

So join us for our next Women Bike webinar — April 11, from 3:00 – 4:15 p.m. EDT — as we discuss “Getting More Moms and Families on Bikes.” We’ll explore how individual, advocacy and retailer leaders are addressing these unique but widespread considerations and helping to get more moms and families out riding.

Join us for a conversation with:

Megan Odett, founder of Kidical Mass DC and creator of the National Family Biking Survey Kit Hodge, Deputy Director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition and the creator of the organization’s “Family Biking Guide” and Martina Fahrner, co-founder of Clever Cycles in Portland, Ore., which was among the first bike shops in the U.S. to carry bikes specifically geared toward family transportation needs

Click here to register!

And, if you missed our first two webinars on “How to Start a Women’s Bike Club” or “The Economic Impact of Women Bicyclists,” view the recordings and download the slides here!

(Photo by Leslie Bloom, Alliance for Biking & Walking Photo Library)

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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01
Apr
0

Apply for Funding from Women Bike!

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

get_involved

Last month, we were excited to help launch the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s new “Women & Bicycles” campaign with a $15,000 grant. Revolving around small social gatherings hosted by Roll Models and practical-skill workshops and group rides, WABA’s innovative initiative will engage and provide resources to women in the D.C. area – and, we’re confident, serve as a model for other advocacy organizations nationwide. (Stay tuned for much more on this effort in coming weeks!)

But that’s not all.

In celebration of the launch of the Women Bike program, the League is also awarding $5,000 in mini-grants. We know that it often takes a modest amount of funding to get the wheels turning on a big idea — and the goal of our new Growth Fund is to seed, support and spread campaigns and ideas that are getting more women on bikes.

Purpose: Whether it’s an innovative outreach strategy or a first-of-its-kind event, we know great ideas and efforts are breaking ground across the country — and we want to make sure the best efforts take root and serves as examples for the rest of the nation. The Growth Fund aims to provide best practices on women’s bicycling outreach and engagement to advocates nationwide, by sharing effective strategies, programs and materials to inform and be utilized by other advocacy organizations.

Eligibility: To apply for these funds, an organization must:

Be a member of the League of American Bicyclists Be incorporated as a 501(c)(3) organization; grants will not be awarded to individuals Propose a campaign or event that is specifically aimed at increasing the number of women riding — with a defined timeline and measurable goals

Grant Amount: Based on applications, the League will award between three and five mini-grants. Maximum application and award amount is $2,500. Grants will be administered by the League’s Women Bike program.

How to Apply: Complete the brief online application here. The application deadline is Monday, April 15, 2013. Grant winners will be announced on Monday, April 29, 2013. Proposals will be evaluated by League staff and the Women Bike Advisory Board.

Reporting Requirements: A final report highlighting the results of your campaign, effectiveness of this grant, lessons learned by your organization, best practices / model(s) to share with other organizations, photos and PR-related materials will be required at the end of the grant period.

For more information about the Women Bike Growth Fund, contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We look forward to helping you grow the number of women riding in your community — and communities across the country!

(Photo: WABA “Women & Bicycles” launch party, credit Brian Palmer)

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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01
Apr
0

USDOT Announces Bike Safety Summits in Tampa & Minneapolis

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

lahoodsummit“We are going to address bike safety head on… and we are going to pull from all our resources to do it.”

At the National Bike Summit earlier this month, Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation would focus on bike safety by holding two Bike Safety Summits — and today DOT announced the dates and locations:

April 11: Tampa, Florida April 29: Minneapolis, Minnesota

The Safety Summits will feature an expo in the morning with resources on bike safety, education, Safe Routes to School, and creating Bicycle Friendly Communities, Universities and Businesses, as well as hands-on safety training. The afternoons will include policy discussions on the built environment and planning, enforcement and education.

In announcing these Summits, Secretary LaHood said DOT would bring to bear all of its resources — including policy experts from DOT, research experts from the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration and engineering experts from Federal Highway Administration.

So what would we like to see as results?

Policy: A non-motorized safety performance measure (a national goal to reduce bicyclist deaths)

Engineering: Innovative bike design standards endorsed by US DOT

Research: Better data overall bicycling data- including data on the what, where, why, when and who of bicycling crashes and best practices on buidling safe, accessbile bike friendly infrastructure.

Beyond that, though, we hope the Summit in Tampa shines the national spotlight on the spate of tragic fatal crashes involving bicyclists in the area over the past several months and helps to identify some solid, practical suggestions to improve traffic safety for all road users in the region. In Minneapolis, we expect the leading efforts of local officials, advocates and Mayor R.T. Rybak to turn their city into a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community will clearly showcase the many benefits of making biking a safe and enjoyable means of transportation and recreation.

We thank Secretary LaHood for his continued leadership on biking and on safety — and we look forward to seeing what the Bike Safety Summit brings. Learn more, including how to register, on the Fast Lane Blog.

Photo: Secretary Ray LaHood at the 2013 National Bike Summit, credit Brian Palmer

 

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Caron WhitakerVice President of Government Relations

Prior to joining the League of American Bicyclists in 2012, Ms. Whitaker served as the Campaign Director for America Bikes where she coordinated and implemented America Bikes federal policy agenda. Before that, she worked for the National Wildlife Federation on smart growth, international policy, and community engagement. In addition, Caron served as a Community Land Use Planner for the State of North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, providing technical assistance to local governments and staffing a stakeholders’ council responsible for revising state planning regulations. She has a Masters in Environmental Management for Duke University, Nicolas School of the Environment and a Bachelors of Arts from Williams College.
Original author: Caron
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Mar
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Bike Summit Buzz Ripples Across the Country

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

It’s been three weeks since the conclusion of the 2013 National Bike Summit — but the buzz is still rippling across the country. With 750 people in attendance, and our most diverse and exciting program yet, there was a discernible shift in tone from Summits past. What did attendees take away from their experience? Plenty of new ideas, a-ha moments and excitement about the future of the movement.

jim

Although it was my eighth summit, it felt really new and fresh. Jim Sayer (pictured, left, with April Economides), Executive Director of the Adventure Cycling Association, shared his Top 5 Takeaways from the Summit (also included: a picture of a red, white and blue folding bike!).

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If I were an investor in ideas or social movements, I would put a lot of money into bicycling right now. Jonathan Maus of BikePortland has a great wrap-up and gorgeous photos on their re-cap list.

Team BikeArlington with Jeannette Sadik-Kahn; Zanna's on the right.

The bike summit armed us with the tools we need to get businesses on board. BikeArlington‘s Zanna Worzella posts on  how the facts and figures presented at the Summit make the case for bicycling.  She’s pictured with the rest of the BikeArlington team and Janette Sadik-Khan, Zanna on the far right.

And StreetFilms captured the voices and perspectives of a dozens speakers and attendees on how Bicycling Means Business for their communities.

National Bike Summit 2013 from Streetfilms on Vimeo..But that’s not all. Across the country, advocates from New Orleans to Indianapolis are sharing what they learned and how it will impact their work. Click the links below to read more from…

Bike Easy from New Orleans has an “aha”-moment on how biking makes sense and cents. Bike Texas gives the Lone Star perspective. Consider Biking has a links page to a radio show and other info on the Summit. Bike Delaware has a Top 3 Takeaways, which happen to not include the 5 from Adventure Cycling. The Greater Valley Forge Transportation Management Association gives a succinct wrap-up. Bicycle Garage Indy has a nice personal narrative from Summit presenter Connie Schmucker. Georgia Bikes! deserves that exclamation point; they won the Alliance for Biking and Walking‘s Advocacy Campaign of the Year award! LACBC joined 70 other Californians at the Summit. Bicycle Retailer and Industry News have a number of good articles on the Summit.

Reading your recaps has us excited about Summit 2014 already! Want to relive the experience or get a glimpse of the fun? Visit the Summit page to check out the photo collections, watch the keynote addresses and download the workshop presentations.

And stay tuned for an exciting announcement on Monday…

 

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Katie OmbergEvents and Outreach Manager

Katie joined the League in April of 2010. For the two years prior, she worked at the Corcoran College of Art + Design as a programs coordinator. Katie has a BA in Religion from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass. She enjoys biking to work.
Original author: Katie
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Women’s (Bike) History: Shannon Galpin & the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team

Posted by on in League of American Bicyclists

To achieve her dream of waving the Afghan flag at the Olympics, 16-year-old Salma Kakar rises before dawn, to train under the cover of darkness. For the new Afghan Women’s Cycling Team, participating in the sport is a direct — and perilous — challenge to the prohibition against women cycling.

“These women are literally risking their lives to ride bikes,” says Shannon Galpin.

Over the past five years, Galpin has dedicated herself to improving the lives of girls like Kakar through her organization Mountain2Mountain. In 2006, the Colorado trainer and avid mountain biker established her nonprofit to empower women and girls in conflict zones — through cycling.

.According to National Geographic, which honored Galpin as a 2013 Adventurer of the Year: “The 38-year-old has braved some of the most violent periods in Afghanistan—a country considered by many humanitarian agencies to be the worst place in the world to be a woman—to work on women’s education and health. She fostered midwife training to combat infant and maternal mortality in the Panjshir Province. In Kabul and Kandahar, she helped develop reading programs for the daughters of women in prisons, some of whom were jailed for adultery after they were raped or for escaping arranged marriages.”

In 2010, she became the first person to ride across Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley and has been a key supporter of the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team.

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“I started challenging that barrier [against women riding bikes] myself by being a foreign woman and looking for other women riding bikes,” she told NBC Nightly News. “Finding out that a small group of women were riding in Kabul as part of a cycling team it was a really natural segway to work I was doing in Afghanistan to support this burgeoning group of women pushing the boundaries on bicycles… It brings bikes into a whole new realm that could galvanize women’s rights in Afghanistan.”

And, if women like Kakar are willing to take the risk, Galpin says, the least we can do is support them. The first step: gear. The Mountain2Mountain founder has garnered hundreds of pounds of donations from bike shops, industry and individuals in a matters of months. And with her new Combat Apathy campaign she’s encouraging all of us to step up, building a “battalion of passionate mothers, daughters, and sisters, that are willing to sacrifice time, money, and energy to be crusaders of gender equity and human rights.”

Watch the video above to hear more from Galpin — and see the incredible passion of the Afghan Women’s Cycling Team. Galpin, along with Let Media and Side of the Road Sessions, are currently working on a full documentary about the team; click here to learn more and support the effort.

 

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Carolyn SzczepanskiCommunications Director

Carolyn joined the League in March 2012, after two years at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. In addition to managing the League's blog, magazine and other communications, Carolyn organized the first National Women's Bicycling Summit and launched the League's newest program: Women Bike. Before she crossed over to advocacy, she was a professional journalist for nearly 10 years.
Original author: Carolyn
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