North Carolina Bike Summit Generates Energy & Momentum

By Jake Knight on October 31, 2012


imageA group of participants at the North Carolina Bike Summit.

Over 180 bike advocates of all stripes brought their enthusiasm and energy to the inaugural North Carolina Bike Summit in Raleigh, NC, in mid-October.

This first statewide bike summit has been years in the making and is the result of building momentum across North Carolina. Plans for regional workshops within the Raleigh-Durham Triangle became part of a broader discussion with bicycle advocacy leaders in communities across the state. Growing from the energy of those who attended the National Bike Summit and encouraged by the Alliance’s coaching and support, the NC Bike Summit brought enthusiastic attendees together to meet, connect, socialize, learn from each other and ride together.

East Coast Greenway Alliance, New Belgium Brewing and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) provided support for the event, as did several representatives from the bike industry from across the state. Andy Clarke from the League of American Bicyclists gave a well-received keynote address. NCDOT Bicycle and Pedestrian Division director Lauren Blackburn was also on hand to present progress on the state’s updated bike/ped master plan.

“The timing for the summit couldn’t have been better,” said Jennifer Baldwin, Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator for the City of Raleigh. “NCDOT presented their updated bike/ped master plan and had the opportunity to gain tons of feedback from advocates across the state.”

The summit convened representatives from the advocacy community, bike clubs, local government, nonprofits, law enforcement, planning and engineering professionals, and the business community (including industry and bike shops).

“It wasn’t just advocates,” said Steven Hardy-Braz, who sits on the board of the North Carolina Active Transportation Alliance, an Alliance member organization. “It wasn’t just bike store owners, or planners, or government officials. People of all different backgrounds attended, and there was a nice blend of programming for everyone.”

“I’ve seen the progress other states have made once they bring everyone together at a summit,” said Claudia Nix, owner of Liberty Bicycles in Asheville and local advocacy leader. “This summit shows that we really want to make a difference as a state, and taking this huge step was exhilarating!”

Participants in this year’s summit are already getting geared up for next year’s event. In the future, the organizers hope to expand the program to include more offerings for youth programs and bike education, bike tourism and sport and recreational riding.

“We’re really interested in hosting this in identified bicycle friendly universities and communities so people from all over the state can see what their ideas look like as they’re implemented,” said Steven. “We also want to be able to show that bicycling means good business for the community and to point out the return on investment in bicycle facilities.“

“The City of Raleigh was an incredible host for the summit and provided great support toward its success,” Steven added. “Their greenway system and on-road improvements were admired by many, and summit attendees will be back for more.”

Information on the North Carolina Bike Summit is coming soon and will be located at NCBikeSummit.org.

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