Alliance for Biking & Walking and Advocacy Advance Seeking Interns
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 20, 2013
Attention internship seekers! The Alliance for Biking & Walking and the Advocacy Advance partnership are seeking two interns for three-month commitments this summer.
The Advocacy Advance intern will gain knowledge and skills related to federal funding for bicycle and pedestrian projects, as well as the advocacy efforts to secure and utilize this funding across the country. Work includes research of federal transportation funding, collecting best practices for advocates, and tracking data on state funding practices.
The Alliance’s Communications intern will gain knowledge and experience in journalistic blog writing and editing, social media communications, outreach, sharing best practices of advocacy organizations and database management.
See the full communications internship description here. To apply, please send a letter of interest, resume, writing sample and references to Mary Lauran Hall by Friday, May 24.
Silicon Valley Councilmembers Pedal Together for Bike Week
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 20, 2013
To celebrate Bike to Work Week and showcase a new San Jose bike lane, the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition decided to take local councilmembers for a spin.
In a striking demonstration of collaboration in local government, six San José Councilmembers joined business leader Carl Guardino and Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Corinne Winter to pedal a seven-person conference bike (and one traditional two-wheeler) down a brand new buffered bike lane.
“We’re always looking for ways to get our local political leaders involved, and we wanted to do something that was a little more fun than the standard press conference,” said Colin Heyne, Deputy Director at the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition. “We thought it would be a good visual and metaphorical show of how councilmembers can work together.”
The ride also showcased San Jose’s brand new buffered bike lane on 4th Street, an eight-foot wide travel lane with four feet of protective striping — sufficiently wide to comfortably fit a seven-person conference bike.
Colin pointed out that while cities can find funding to build new bike-friendly infrastructure, transportation departments rarely have funding to celebrate new projects once they are on the ground.
“We really wanted to celebrate what the city is doing,” said Colin. “It’s just not possible for a lot of municipalities to publicize their work, so we’re trying to take on that role.”
Colin and his colleagues came up with the idea while brainstorming with partners at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a public policy business trade organization.
“We knew that Google had a few of these conference bikes, and thought it would be a good show of working together,” Colin recalled.
As many advocates know, organizing a critical mass of elected officials in one place can be tricky business, and careful scheduling is a must.
To arrange the event, the advocates first decided on the event’s general flow and timing, then checked on the mayor’s availability. Next, advocates coordinated a date with the councilmember who represents the neighborhood in which the event would be held. After securing a time, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition advocates and Leadership Group staff contacted all other councilmembers’ schedulers with personalized invitations and careful details about the event. The team them kept track of each politician’s availability carefully.
“I had a spreadsheet showing whether each elected official would make the ride, whether they would make the photo shoot, if they’d need a bike, and if they would need a helmet,” Colin recalled.
Elected officials started off on the conference bike from a hidden location, then traveled past a scrum of reporters who had gathered in front of city hall.
“The press didn’t actually know where we had the conference bike hidden,” said Colin. “We’ve learned that if you start an event and the press are there to distract the politicians, the event may never get off the ground.”
The collection of politicians pedaled to the library, where Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition had arranged to station six bikes from the city’s fleet of Breezers and Globes. There, the elected officials posed for photos in a show of bike-friendliness.
Overall, the event was a success — the elected officials were happy to participate in such a celebratory event with positive media coverage, while the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition and Leadership Group strengthened their relationships with local politicians and found an opportunity to boost visibility for San Jose’s bicycle friendliness.
Infographic: Why Biking To Work is Great For Your Health
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 16, 2013
It’s National Bike To Work Week, and many communities will celebrate Bike To Work Day tomorrow. Spring is the best time of year to dust off that bicycle and start riding!
In case you need a few reasons to hop on the saddle, here’s an infographic showing the health benefits of riding a bike to work.
Would you bike more if streets in your neighborhood were safer for cycling? Make a difference by supporting the movement for better, safer bicycling.
Bike Walk Mississippi Puts on State’s First Open Streets in Jackson
By Mike Samuelson on May 15, 2013
How do you turn people who walk and bike into advocates for safer streets when they don’t identify as walkers and cyclists?
This is a question that leaders of Bike Walk Mississippi — and advocates across the country — constantly ask themselves.
While many advocacy groups are already filled with devout members happy to preach the gospel of active transportation, Melody Moody — Bike Walk Mississippi’s Executive Director — was looking for a way to engage new members of the Jackson community and get them excited about biking and walking. A little over a year ago, the organization decided they wanted to host Mississippi’s first Open Streets as a way to engage with their partners and citizens in a fun and unique way. With a small grant secured from Bikes Belong, the organization was on its way. After months of planning, Jackson Streets Alive was held on April 27.
The streets between the state’s Capital and Governor’s House were filled with people of different ages, races and backgrounds enjoying streets temporarily free of automobile traffic.
“We were able to attract a very diverse crowd of people to Jackson Streets Alive, groups that aren’t always on the same page,” said Melody, “which could have proved more difficult in the week before a heated mayoral race in Jackson.”
With a small budget, Melody knew the best way to bring the idea to life was to partner with local businesses and organizations, as well as the City of Jackson, to make the initiative a success. She reached out to zumba, yoga, dance and and other fitness studios to hold free classes during Streets Alive, and in the process developed relationships that will help Bike Walk Mississippi going forward. Bike Walk Mississippi also worked with a local coffee shop to put 7,000 promotional stickers on all of their cups at 4 different stores around Jackson for two weeks leading up to the festival.
“We felt this was one of the ways we were able to get the word out to a crowd that wouldn’t necessarily have heard of the event through our social media or printed poster and postcard efforts,” said Melody.
The list of partners extended to local sports teams, the state tennis association and a regional foundation. The City of Jackson generously stepped up to cover the cost of police and barricades for the event, which kept Streets Alive under budget. In order to give the initiative a local feel, Bike Walk Mississippi brought in local bands and musicians to play throughout the day.
“We didn’t amplify the bands much because we wanted them to have street performance feel,” said Melody. “In the future, we hope to expand our music even more and have them spread throughout the route organically.” Many of the bands and supporting activities were held in a park adjacent to the route, leaving plenty of space in the streets for people who were biking and walking.
All the hard work paid off on April 27. Despite a city that is notoriously cautious about new events, plenty of folks showed up for Streets Alive.
“People were drawn to the uniqueness of the event and that people, especially kids, could participate in the event and not just watch and listen,” Melody said.
What’s next for Bike Walk Mississippi? Melody is already thinking about the next Open Streets, not just in Jackson but across the state.
“We loved having Streets Alive downtown, and look forward to holding it in other neighborhoods or near the Museum to Market Trail that is set to break ground later this year so people can both play in the streets and explore Jackson’s first multi-use trail,” she said. “Jackson Streets Alive was able to introduce the concept of Open Streets to Mississippians as a unique way to promote active transportation and something that local communities can work on together with Bike Walk Mississippi to replicable in other parts of the state. People are already asking when they can do it again in Jackson and when can they bring it to their own cities.”
Looking to learn how to open the streets in your community to people? Head over to the Open Streets Project to learn more.
Victory in Idaho Speaks to Power of Grassroots
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 13, 2013
Biking and walking just saw a major win in Idaho.
Under the new transportation bill (MAP-21), some funding for local walking and biking improvements under the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) became optional for states, creating a big opportunity — and challenge.
If the higher-ups in state transportation agencies decided to preserve TAP funds, small towns and cities would get the chance to access valuable dollars to make neighborhoods safer for kids and adults walking and biking. If state officials decided to nix the funds, the tiny pool of dollars that would build sidewalks, crosswalks and bikeways in small towns could be redirected to large highway projects.
In Idaho, advocates had just a few months to convince the seven representatives serving on the Board of Directors at the Idaho Transportation Department that biking and walking funds are vitally important. When we last checked in with Cynthia in January, advocates were in the midst of a campaign to preserve funds from the Transportation Alternatives Program. Using funding from an Advocacy Advance Rapid Response Grant, advocates were traveling all over the state to build support at the grassroots level — but the transportation board was dragging its feet on a final decision. Even as Cynthia continued their hard work, advocates were unsure just how successful their campaign would be.
Now, four months later, Cynthia Gibson, Executive Director of the Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Alliance, is thrilled to declare victory. Idaho’s higher-ups voted to preserve Transportation Alternatives funds for local biking and walking projects.
Organizing grassroots, contacting legislators
So how did they do it? Working closely with her board — including board president Molly O Reilly — and with partners throughout the state, Cynthia executed a well-designed campaign to mobilize grassroots leaders to convince the Idaho Transportation Board to fully fund biking and walking.
“We knew the Board members would listen to their constituents and legislators,” Cynthia said, “so we traveled out to communities who previously received biking and walking funds and understood how these dollars had bettered their community.”
Cynthia’s targeted travels brought her to small cities and towns all over the state — check out this map to see where the campaign brought her.
In each community, Cynthia found the engaged citizens who had seen how active transportation improvements can bring a main street back to life or make a neighborhood safer for students walking to school.
“We were talking to mayors and local community groups,” Cynthia said. “They understood how biking and walking had bettered their communities, so we asked them to voice their concerns to their representative.”
These local champions wrote the transportation board to let them know about the importance of active transportation funds.
At the same time, Idaho Pedestrian and Bicycle Association worked to discuss the issue with state legislators. Cynthia spent time meeting with lawmakers, and also collaborated with state partners to increase influence.
“We partnered with the Conservation Voters of Idaho, who had state legislative connections,” said Cynthia. “So we were out talking to legislators, who were receiving phone calls and letters from mayors and community groups.”
Over time, the group’s efforts began to have a noticeable effect.
“Gradually, it seemed like board members’ attitudes were changing,” Cynthia recalled. “Some of the board members who were staunch opponents started talking differently.”
“When we started this, they were saying ‘biking and sidewalks? There’s no money for that, we don’t have the funds,’” said Cynthia. “That’s not what they were saying five months later. Now they were concerned with money coming in to local communities. They picked up information and saw things differently.”
Ultimately, after months of hard work, the board voted to preserve Transportation Alternative Program funds. The board’s decision was a thrilling conclusion to a campaign that gradually picked up steam.
“It’s a movement,” Cynthia said. “It’s just picking up momentum. The legislators are hearing about us and the discussions are happening more often.”
Cynthia had plenty of suggestions for advocates in other areas of the country. Idaho’s campaign victory is a testament to the value of face-to-face meetings and building grassroots support.
“You can never give up on grassroots,” said Cynthia. “It’s all about reaching out to the communities. If you can educate people out in the communities whose lives will be touched, they will contact their representative. And once this gains some steam as calls and letters multiply, it can be really powerful.”
Strategic partnerships were essential, too.
“We’re trying to partner with people who can help us and who we can also help,” she explained. “Through our partnership with the Conservation Voters of Idaho, we were able to make a lot of legislative connections.”
Another lesson: be persistent.
“It’s time consuming and sometimes not a lot of fun, but you have to keep chipping away at it,” Cynthia said. “Be persistent and just don’t give up.”
“When all this kept going on and on and on, I just hung in there,” she recalled. “I’d get frustrated, and [Idaho Bicycle and Pedestrian Alliance board president] Molly said, ‘just keep going.’ I kept attending meetings and we kept pushing.”
Tags: transportation alternatives program, rapid response grants, map-21, idaho pedestrian & bicycle alliance, advocacy advance grant, advocacy advance
Animation: How to Check Your Bike Before You Ride
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 10, 2013
Riding a bike is a great way to get around, but nothing can ruin your trip like a breakdown.
Bicycle advocates and educators have long taught the “ABC Quick Check,” a simple five-step checklist that riders can use to test all the most essential parts of their bike before hitting the road. Now, educators can point to a great new animation to help people learn how to check their bikes.
The video was made by the Active Transportation Alliance of Chicago, IL. Paul Halupka, Active Trans’ graphic designer, was excited about the opportunity to direct the video.
“Every so often, I have the opportunity to work with non-traditional design interns,” Paul said by email. “This spring, I had the opportunity to art-direct an animation student! The product of our collaboration is the ABC Quick Check video.”
“We’re very proud of our work on this piece,” Paul continued. “While I’m particularly happy with the quality of the work from our talented animator, I’m also excited about this video’s true potential: educating TONS of people about how to get rolling safely.”
Well done, Active Trans! If you like this video, consider passing it on to folks who could use a refresher on how to get that bike rolling this spring.
Cleveland and Pittsburgh Go Head-to-Head in National Bike Challenge
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 02, 2013
Pittsburgh and Cleveland are no stranger to competition: the two cities regularly clash on the football field when the Steelers play the Browns. But starting this month, the two Rust Belt cities are competing on new turf: miles traveled by bicycle.
May 1 marked the start of National Bike Month and the National Bike Challenge — an initiative organized by the League of American Bicyclists and the Kimberly-Clark Corporation that encourages people to bike for transportation and recreation.
During the challenge, which runs through September 30, individuals can track their miles ridden by bike and rack up points on behalf of local teams, offices, or communities. The teams with participants who hop on the saddle most often and for the longest distances accumulate the most points.
Last year, Pittsburgh won the title of Rust Belt Champion when participants with Pittsburgh zip codes logged miles at a higher rate than Cleveland cyclists.
“It’s an age-old rivalry, and this year Cleveland decided to officially challenge Pittsburgh,” explained Dan Yablonsky, SCA Fellow at Bike Pittsburgh. “They’re picking this fight.”
Jacob VanSickle, Executive Director of Bike Cleveland, said it was a member’s idea to start the Rustbelt Rivalry.
“Usually Pittsburgh is better than Cleveland in the football realm,” Jacob said. “Finally, we’ve found something we’re really good at where we can beat Pittsburgh — riding our bikes.”
Representatives from Bike Pittsburgh had plenty of smack talk for their rival city.
“After the initial Rust Belt Rivalry excitement wears off, Cleveland’s numbers are going to fall flat,” Dan said in an email, “and there’s no patch kit that can save them. Pittsburgh is in this for the long haul.”
“Let’s face it — Pittsburghers hate to lose to Cleveland at anything,” Scott Bricker, Executive Director of Bike Pittsburgh, said in a statement. “That’s why we’re strongly encouraging anyone who owns a bike in Pittsburgh to sign up and start logging miles.”
Jacob from Bike Cleveland was equally competitive, and hopes to rely on the city’s rambunctious and growing cycling community to best Pittsburgh in the challenge.
“Beating Pittsburgh is in our DNA as Clevelanders,” said Jacob. “Just over the past year, the cycling community in Cleveland has grown. Everybody’s coming together around the idea of finally beating Pittsburgh at something.”
“It’s a David and Goliath story,” he continued. “Bike Pittsburgh has been around for a while, while Bike Cleveland is a new organization. They have a much larger reach in terms of their contacts.”
Bike Cleveland has even contracted with Rustbelt Welding to fabricate an actual Rust Belt Crown for the winning organization. Jacob also noted that the Executive Director from the losing organization may be required to sing the opposing city’s praises at a public location in their home city.
Competition aside, Bike Cleveland and Bike Pittsburgh are excited for the opportunity to collaborate.
“We’re pumped to be working with Cleveland to get positive energy around this,” Dan said. “We both understand that this is an opportunity to promote biking and promote safe streets.”
“It’s a joint collaboration,” Jacob said.
Looking Back, a Losing Ballot Measure Campaign Was a Big Long-Term Win
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 02, 2013
Last fall, the East Bay Bicycle Coalition set out a bold plan.
During the November 2012 election, voters in Alameda County were due to consider a reauthorization of the Alameda County Transportation Sales Tax Measure. The ballot measure, Measure B1, was a bold 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 over 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.
The Coalition had its work cut out for it. California law stipulates that funding measures must gain the support of two-thirds of voters in order to pass — meaning a tremendous amount of work ahead. To increase awareness throughout the county, advocates from the EBBC conducted outreach to local community groups and businesses, worked closely with the official “Yes on B1” campaign, and distributed promotional materials to spread the word.
Ultimately, the ballot measure fell just 700 votes short of the two-thirds majority required for passage. The final count was heartbreakingly close — by the final count, 66.53% of voters had voted to support the measure, just a hair shy of the needed 66.66%.
But despite the narrow loss, the EBBC has no regrets.
“The campaign put us in a very strong position,” Dave said.
For one, the measure will be back on the ballot soon, and last year’s high-visibility campaign put the EBBC in a strong position for a winning repeat performance.
“It’s looking like it will come back to the ballot by 2016 at the latest,” said Dave. “Everybody — our congressional delegation, the regional transportation agency, mayors in each city, the environmental community, our partners — wants this thing passed and will work to make it happen.”
Another positive outcome of the campaign: a great partnership with the county transportation agency.
“The Alameda County Transportation Commission has nothing but high praise about our work on the campaign,” Dave recounted. “Our relationship has never been stronger, and it’s only gotten better since the election. They know they’ll need us next time to make sure this thing passes.”
“It’s a great lesson for other advocacy groups,” he said. “You often build clout when you oppose something and defeat it. But you build as much clout or more by partnering and succeeding with a transportation agency.”
Plus, the campaign catapulted donations to the organization, enabling the EBBC to buff up on staff and advocacy power.
“Before 2012, we were still trying to figure out how to have a full-time person doing bike advocacy,” recalled Dave. “We were essentially a staff of 4 before the campaign, and now we’re around 6.5. It resulted in so much support from our members and our donors that we have a full-time advocacy staff. Our volunteer coordination, resources, and procedures are much stronger now.”
Dave attributes much of the campaign’s positive impacts to Advocacy Advance’s support.
“The Rapid Response grant helped us do the work,” he recalled. “Coupled with another comparable grant, we were able to hire a campaign fellow to do a lot of the legwork, including coordinating 100 volunteers.”
“The B1 Campaign got us there,” he continued. “And it feels good.”
2014 Benchmarking Report to Include Small and Midsized Cities
By Andrea Milne on May 01, 2013
The Alliance is excited to announce that 15 new small and midsized cities will be included in the 2014 Benchmarking Report.
We’ve heard the feedback loud and clear and agree that small and midsized cities are a very important addition to our biennial report. Biking and walking professionals use the Benchmarking Report as a reference to further their work, and including new cities expands our understanding of local progress and challenges for biking and walking outside of our nation’s largest urban areas.
Want to help make the inclusion of small and midsized cities a reality? Because this new pilot project goes outside of our current scope of the report — requiring more research, analysis and design time — we are seeking help to fund this effort. We are nearly 2/3 of the way to our goal of raising at least $15K to cover the additional costs of the project.
The following cities are set to be included in the 2014 report:
In our three previous reports, the Alliance has tracked the progression of biking and walking in all 50 states and the 50 most populous U.S. cities. In this new pilot project, our data team will start to benchmark biking and walking data from small and midsized cities across the U.S., similar to what is already reported for the 50 most populous cities.
If your city or organization would like to help make this project happen, please contact Andrea If the pilot goes well, we plan to include small and midsized cities in our regular funding requests as a regular piece of the benchmarking report.
Behind the Scenes with Bicycle Friendly States: League and Alliance Streamline State Surveys
By Mary Lauran Hall on May 01, 2013
Today, the League of American Bicyclists released the 2013 Bicycle Friendly State rankings — an annual roster that rates U.S. states’ programs and policies for bicycling. Washington state crowns the rankings for the sixth straight year, while a host of improving states climbed in the ranks to shake up the top 10.
Behind the shuffle lie some background changes that signal more cooperation between the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking. This year, the Alliance and the League combined the state surveys for the Alliance’s Benchmarking Report and the League’s Bicycle Friendly States into a single, streamlined process.
In the past, our two organizations had collected data from state transportation departments and advocacy organizations about bicycle and pedestrian related policies and practices in separate, uncoordinated processes.
Because the surveys featured significant overlap, streamlining was a natural opportunity for collaboration. This year, we merged the longer state Benchmarking survey with the shorter Bicycle Friendly State survey to eliminate overlap. The League of American Bicyclists team then attached points to some of the new questions from the Benchmarking survey, which influenced the final 2013 Bicycle Friendly State rankings.
“It just makes sense,” said Andrea Milne, Benchmarking Project Manager at the Alliance. “I’m absolutely happy that we can be working together with the League to combine our efforts on data collection. We heard back from advocates that it was nice to not have to fill out two surveys.”
“It was a nice cooperation,” said Nicole Wynands, Bicycle Friendly Community & Bicycle Friendly State Program Manager at the League of American Bicyclists. “We split the workload, and our team effectively increased.”
Dan Grunig, Executive Director of Bicycle Colorado, took the lead on collecting publicly available data and coordinating with the state transportation, parks and health departments to fill out the survey for the Rocky Mountain State.
“The problem with the previous two surveys was that they asked for approximately the same data but in different ways,” said Dan. “So it was sometimes confusing to make sure that we were being consistent between the two.”
One downside: the new combined survey is lengthier.
“I definitely noticed that the survey was longer,” Dan explained. “But by asking each question only once, both are going to feed into the same data and are going to be able to show consistent results.”
The opening for simplifying had already been seized by Bike Texas Executive Director Robin Stallings, who was inspired to streamline the two surveys for a Texas-only benchmarking report.
“We’d had some feedback that there was a lot of overlap between the Alliance and League surveys,” Robin said. “So we included 100% of the questions from each, eliminated duplication, and added a few new questions.”
James Wilson, Executive Director of Bike Delaware, was thrilled to learn that his state jumped into #5 in the rankings this year.
“I felt a combination of emotions — giddiness and happiness and some small amount of disbelief,” James recalled. “Really? Are we really in the top 5?”
Delaware’s bicycle coordinator took the lead on filling out the survey, James helped with reviewing and fact-checking. “It felt like the application got longer,” he said, but acknowledged that the length was partially because Delaware was answering many of the questions for the first time.
“There was an understanding that it was the first year that we were dealing with a lot of this stuff. The following years will be a lot easier because we’ll be working with the previous year’s application.”
Coincidentally, Bike Delaware holds its state bike summit today, and they can’t wait to announce the news, Oscars-style.
“We have the state department of transportation secretary and the department of natural resources secretary making the joint announcement at 10:00 AM,” James said. “We have a big white envelope to hand them.”
How Obama’s Nominee for Transportation Secretary Stacks Up on Biking & Walking
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 29, 2013
There’s big news in the transportation world: President Obama has chosen a nominee for Secretary of Transportation. The President’s nominee to replace outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood at the helm of the Department of Transportation will be Anthony Foxx, Mayor of Charlotte, NC.
How will the new nominee shape up on biking and walking issues? To find out about Mayor Foxx’s support for biking and walking issues in Charlotte, I spoke with Tobe Holmes, a board member at the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance, or CABA.
Tobe reported that Mayor Foxx supported innovations at the city Department of Transportation that helped give Charlotte residents plenty of choices about how to get around — including walking and biking.
“All in all, he’s been a very positive force in the past few years in terms of bicycling and walking,” said Tobe. “The DOT here really gets it, and they’re allowed to do some things that are a little more out of the box.”
Tobe reports that during his tenure, Mayor Foxx worked to improve multimodal transportation — and recognized the importance of funding positions within the city’s DOT to focus on biking and walking accessibility.
“During his tenure Mayor Foxx has been supportive of initiatives including an expansion the city’s bike route network, green bike lanes, bike boxes, sidewalk construction projects and other projects to meet bicycle and pedestrian needs,” Tobe said.
Perhaps the Mayor’s most memorable active transportation achievement was his leadership during the installation of the city’s bike sharing system by Charlotte Center City Partners. His understanding of its importance to the transportation network was essential to its launch in advance of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
“He was incredibly supportive of bike share,” Tobe said. “It wouldn’t have been possible to do it in that short of a timeframe without that sort of leadership. City departments seemed to bend over backwards to make it happen.”
The mayor has also strongly supported completion of a key 26-mile east-west stretch of the Carolina Thread Trail, a regional greenway network that reaches across 15 counties, connecting several destinations across Charlotte.
“He came out to the mayor’s bike ride on Friday, and that particular project was the focus of his remarks,” said Tobe. “He particularly supports this one project.”
Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was a strong proponent of biking and walking in the U.S. transportation system. As Secretary, he attended every National Bike Summit, pedaled to the office during Bike To Work Day and publicly supported the NACTO Urban Bikeway Design Guide. And in perhaps his most memorable gesture of support for active transportation, Secretary LaHood delivered an impromptu tabletop speech at the National Bike Summit Congressional Reception in which he declared “this is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”
In response to LaHood’s planned departure, biking and walking advocates encouraged President Obama to select a new Transportation Secretary who would continue to embrace all modes of transportation equally. We look forward to working with Mayor Foxx — a leader with a clear understanding of how making neighborhoods better for biking, walking and transit helps solve local transportation challenges.
Kristin Purdy Joins Alliance for Biking & Walking as National Campaigns Manager
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 26, 2013
The Alliance for Biking & Walking is pleased to welcome Kristin Purdy as our new National Campaigns Manager.
Kristin comes to the Alliance with significant field organizing experience at both the national and local level on transportation and political campaigns. As a regional organizer with Transportation for America, she managed field operations for federal transportation reform efforts in 15 states. As a grassroots organizer with the Coalition for Smarter Growth in Washington, DC, she built support for local smart growth and active transportation policies through traditional community and online organizing.
Kristin also worked in Toledo, Ohio as a Regional Field Director for the 2012 Obama campaign. On the campaign, she managed a team of 25 organizers and activated a network of 500 volunteers to implement voter registration, support and turnout.
“We are very excited to have Kristin on board,” said Jeffrey Miller, President / CEO of the Alliance for Biking & Walking. “Kristin’s considerable skill and experience in grassroots and national organizing and her expertise with transportation issues will help build the Alliance’s capacity to coordinate national campaigns to boost biking and walking.”
The Alliance for Biking & Walking’s forthcoming national campaign will be designed and implemented with the United States’ largest state and local biking and walking advocacy organizations, and Kristin will play a leading role in coordinating the campaign’s design and execution.
A native of Lansing, Michigan, Kristin comes from a family deeply involved in the auto industry — her grandfather immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland to work on the Oldsmobile assembly line. Even in the automotive capital of the world, however, Kristin recognized that car ownership wasn’t an option or preference for everyone.
“I know that for my community to thrive, it is important that all community members have viable and safe transportation options for getting to their job, school and home,” says Kristin. “While biking and walking are healthy forms of active transportation, most cities aren’t doing enough to make their communities better and safer places to bike and walk. That is why I’m so motivated to advocate for biking and walking and ensure healthy and livable communities.”
Kristin continued: “I’m excited to join the Alliance. The Alliance’s members are working on some of the best local advocacy campaigns in the country, and to work with these organizations on a national scale is an awesome opportunity to elevate biking and walking. As an organizer and local advocate, I love the opportunity to share best practices and learn from others in the movement.”
Better Bicycling Community Grants Lead to 3 New Open Streets
By Mike Samuelson on April 25, 2013
Thanks to recent grants from Performance Bicycle, three new communities have launched successful Open Strees initiatives.
Last summer, Performance celebrated its 30th birthday by giving back. The company worked with the Alliance to give out $30,000 worth of grants to 10 advocacy organizations across the country who are working to create safer communities for cycling. Of those 10 organizations, three groups — in Carrboro, NC; Charlottesville, VA and Salt Lake City, UT — chose to use the funding to launch new Open Streets initiatives.
Open Streets — which are also known as Ciclovia, Sunday Streets, Streets Alive and many more — temporarily close streets to automobile so that people may use them for healthy and fun physical activities like walking, jogging, biking and dancing.
In the summer of 2011, the Alliance partnered with the Street Plans Collaborative to launch the Open Streets Project, which serves as a central hub for resources and information on Open Streets. Today, there are more than 90 Open Streets initiatives in the United States and Canada in cities of all sizes.
When the Carrboro Bicycle Coalition held their first Open Streets initiative in Carrboro, NC, the streets filled kids hula-hooping, adults dancing and lots of people biking and walking along streets that are normally reserved for cars. Members of the Carrboro Bicycle Coaltion had long explored the idea of an Open Streets event, but had lacked the funds to spark an initiative. The grant from Performance gave them just the kick-start they needed to secure community support and buy-in to make Open Streets happen.
In Charlottesville, the community held their first Open Streets soon after receiving their grant from Performance on August 18, 2012 along Jefferson Park Avenue. The initiative was a huge success, and brought the community together around healthy living and active transportation.
The third initiative of the trio, Open Streets Salt Lake City, is scheduled to take place on May 4. Hosted by statewide advocacy group Bike Utah and the City of Salt Lake, Open Streets SLC will open 1.5 miles of downtown streets for Salt Lakers to play in.
Thanks to our partners at Performance Bicycle for make these three Open Streets possible and for their continued support of advocacy in all of its forms.
If you are interested in opening your streets, check out the Open Streets Projects for resources, case studies and the latest news on Open Streets in North America.
#Winning Advocacy Campaigns with Social Media
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 25, 2013
Social media can be a powerful tool for effective advocacy. From using Facebook to drive event registration to demonstrating support to elected officials on Twitter, biking and walking advocates are increasingly taking advantage of social networking to boost visibility for more walkable, bikeable neighborhoods.
To help more advocates take advantage of social media tools to boost advocacy efforts, we teamed up with the League of American Bicyclists for a webinar on social media as an advocacy tool. Expert panelists Mathilde Piard, a social media professional with the Cox Media Group by day and super volunteer with Alliance member organization Atlanta Bicycle Coalition by night, and Austen Levihn-Coon, senior strategist with Fission Strategy, gave advocates a primer on the most impactful social networks and provided bundles of tips for effectively incorporating social media into campaigns.
Check out the recording, notes, and livetweets from the webinar below.
Webinar: Setting State Safety Goals with Federal Performance Measures
By Brighid O'Keane on April 22, 2013
Want to take advantage of a giant opportunity to improve biking and walking policy? Join an Advocacy Advance webinar to learn how the U.S. can improve active transportation with federal performance measures.
The U.S. is facing a giant safety problem: walking and biking fatalities are rising even as overall traffic deaths fall. People traveling on foot and by bike represent a tragic 16 percent of all traffic fatalities, and despite the alarming statistics, only a handful of states direct federal safety funding towards bicycle and pedestrians safety.
Fortunately, the new federal transportation bill includes an opportunity to change this. MAP-21 requires states to set performance goals across several categories, including safety. With the right amount of public pressure, the US Department of Transportation could require states to set safety goals for bicycle and pedestrian safety — resulting in safer neighborhood streets for families.
And safety isn’t the only area where better performance measures for biking and walking could make a huge difference. New measurements under MAP-21 could encourage states to collect better data on biking and walking and to keep better track of what constitutes a hazardous street.
But in order to push for better performance measures, we need to understand them first.
To learn more, join Advocacy Advance’s next webinar on Tuesday at 2:00 PM eastern for our first 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?
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 Caron Whitaker, the League of American Bicyclists’ Vice President of Government Relations.
Part I: Federal Context and Perspectives
Tuesday, April 23 @ 2:00 – 3:30 PM eastern
Part II: Current Data Collection Methods and Exploring What’s Possible
Tuesday, May 14 @ 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. EDT
Advocacy Advance is a partnership of the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking.
Our blog is powered by news from our member organizations and allies. Submit your news item to our blog by clicking the link below.