Walking Action Call: Repurposing Public Spaces to Restore Walking
By Mike Samuelson on March 25, 2013
On Thursday, the Alliance will team up with America Walks to host another discussion in our on-going Walking Action Network series. The call will focus on Re-purposing Public Spaces to Restore Walking on Main Streets, and will take place on Thursday, March 28, 2013 from 2:00pm ET – 3:00pm ET (11:00am PT - 12:00p.m. PT). The call is free, and you can register online here.
We all know about the importance of walking in creating healthy and active communities, and there are places in our cities that can be designed better to encourage walking. Join the call to hear about what cities across the country are doing to create streets where walking is the easy, safe and convenient choice.
The call will feature Carol Dick from the City of Lemon Grove, CA. As the current Development Services Department Director at the city of 26,000 outside of San Diego, she has focused on turning underutilized public space in community amenities. Carol will walk the audience through the process of repurposing and restructuring a main street, including securing buy-in from stakeholders and funding. The call will also feature handouts and maps from a current project area that is in the process of being repurposed.
In addition to Carol’s presentation, attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and share stories from around the country about how they have repurposed space to make it more walk-friendly. Please join this interactive discussion forum to hear about new and innovative ways to make the most of your space.
Don’t forget to register for the call.
Take an Amazing Bike Adventure to Support Active Transportation
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 21, 2013
Want to take a massive bicycle adventure while supporting safer neighborhood streets across the continent? Join the 2013 Climate Ride and fundraise for active transportation!
The Climate Ride is an amazing multi-day bike trip with two route options — from the soaring Redwoods to San Francisco May 19 – 23 or from the heart of New York City to the Capitol steps in Washington, DC September 21 – 25.
Best of all, proceeds from the Climate Ride can go towards making neighborhoods safer for kids and families.
Here’s how it works: riders pay a $75 registration fee and then raise $2,400 for organizations committed to work on clean energy, sustainability, and active transportation. Each rider gets to choose which organizations their contributions support, so you can designate the Alliance and any number of Alliance member organizations as beneficiaries.
Joining the Climate Ride is a fantastic opportunity to hone fundraising skills and a great way to raise valuable dollars for your favorite advocacy organizations. Register today!
For advocacy organizations who are designated as beneficiaries, the Climate Ride is a great way to engage membership and supporters.
Are you raising money for your ride or for your organization through the Climate Ride? Check out these great resources to optimize your fundraising:
Tags: climate ride
New “Walking Revolution” Report Spotlights the Power of Walkability
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 20, 2013
A new report from the Every Body Walk! Collaborative – an educational campaign led by a dozen organizations including the Alliance and coordinated by America Walks - highlights the importance of walking and walkability for health, business, and communities. The report has its roots in a gathering last December at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Wellness in Washington, DC. The meeting laid groundwork for increased collaboration to build a national movement for walkability to dramatically increase walking as a major form of transportation.
People need regular physical activity in order to stay healthy — many doctors recommend 30 minutes per day for adults and an hour per day for kids. Study after study have proven the benefits of exercise for health: regular physical activity reduces instances of heart disease and high blood pressure, reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s by almost half, and decreases depression as effectively as Prozac.
Still, over half of American adults don’t get the recommended minimum amount of aerobic physical activity. Countering this trend can be as simple as taking a walk.
“Our country’s low rate of physical activity compared to other nations is not just laziness,” writes Jay Walljasper in the new Every Body Walk! report. “To get Americans back on their feet — and to enjoy improved health and other widespread benefits that arise when people walk — we need to make movement, once again, a natural part of daily life.”
People are likely to walk as part of their everyday transportation when a shop, workplace, or transit station is located close to home. In too many communities, our neighborhoods have become inaccessible for walking as government agencies have become accustomed to building at a scale intended for automobile travel.
Advocates can help by speaking up for national, state, and local investments in transportation policies that improve walking. Making it easier to walk by building and repairing sidewalks and investing in neighborhoods built at a human scale can bring walking back into our everyday lives.
The report concludes that “making everyone’s hometowns more walkable will not only increase our health and reduce our waistlines, but also foster the convivial interaction that strengthens communities socially, culturally and economically.”
Check out the Every Body Walk! report below, or download it as a PDF here.
Advocates Gather in Cleveland to Plan Winning Campaigns
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 18, 2013
Last weekend in Cleveland, as tourists streamed into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and locals dug out their greenest wares in preparation for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, advocates from the around the Midwest came together to learn how to design and win great biking and walking campaigns.
Participants at the training included representatives from new advocacy groups in the Cleveland area — the, Heights Bicycle Coalition, a block association in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood and Bike Cleveland — as well as two staff from Bike Pittsburgh and one from the Evansville-Area Trails Coalition.
With facilitation by consultant Ron Milam and Alliance Member Services & Open Streets Coordinator Mike Samuelson, advocates learned how to strategically choose, refine, design and budget campaigns to improve biking and walking in their communities.
The full group of advocates at the Cleveland Winning Campaign TrainingJane Kaminski, membership assistant at Bike Pittsburgh, found the training’s step-by-step campaign guidance to be “challenging in the best way.” She and a colleague developed a capaign to organize an Open Streets initiative in Pittsburgh by 2014.
“I gained more confidence not only in my campaign, but also in my role as a staff member and advocate,” Jane said.
Pittsburgh advocates go for a high-five at the end of the training
Bike Cleveland, the area’s regional biking and walking advocacy group, hosted the workshop and sent over 15 representatives to participate. The organization has been on a roll since its founding strategic planning summit with the Alliance in 2011, and has hired its first Executive Director, Jacob VanSickle, with support from the Gund Foundation.
Jacob saw last weekend’s training as a crucial second step for the organization.
“We engaged in a strategic planning process with the Alliance when we were formed, and I viewed the Winning Campaigns Training as a mini advocacy summit for fleshing out our continued work,” explained Jacob. “We’ve been around for about 18 months, and now we’re thinking about what we can do to really put Bike Cleveland on the map and tackle projects to make Cleveland more bike-friendly.”
Staff, board members and volunteers from Bike Cleveland created blueprints for several potential campaigns to boost biking and walking accessibility in the region.
“For Bike Cleveland, we developed a campaign for a network of protected bikeways, a Safe Routes to School campaign, and a funding campaign … targeted at our local MPO,” explained Jacob.
Bike Cleveland advocates—dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day—present their campaign blueprint on the final day of the training.
If successful, each initiative would serve a dual purpose: wins would make Cleveland neighborhoods safer for biking and walking while also helping to grow Bike Cleveland’s membership base and organizational capacity.
Christopher Alvarado, Bike Cleveland’s board president, was part of the team that developed a campaign to increase the Cleveland metropolitan planning organization’s funding for biking and walking projects.
“It’s pretty encouraging not just in terms of what it is that we can do for the built environment in greater Cleveland, but what we can do for our organization to continue growth in cycling and walking over the long term,” he explained. “This campaign will actually help us grow our organization in ways that we haven’t been able to yet.”
Lee Reis, a board member of the Heights Bicycle Coalition, planned a campaign for bike lanes and sharrows on a road that is particularly popular for bicycle travel.
“We’re trying to get the road restriped going downhill with sharrows and going uphill with a bike lane,” explained Lee. “One of the complications is that the road is split between the city of Cleveland and an immediate suburb. So we’re figuring out who we need to talk to in both places to make sure that the campaign is effective.”
Participants learn about defining campaign goals at the training.
Lee noted that collaboration between organizations in the greater Cleveland area was a key theme of the weekend.
“The training was helpful in terms of collaborating with other volunteer groups that exist around the region,” Lee said. “We’re finding ways that Bike Cleveland can support their advocacy efforts in their cities so we can move forward as a region.”
With a pool of passionate advocates armed with blueprints for smart campaigns, the Cleveland region is sure to see more investments in making roads safer for everyone.
How to Bring Fire Up Your Feet to Your State or Region
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 13, 2013
Biking and walking advocates who want to strengthen their involvement with local schools have a shiny new tool in their toolbox: the new Fire Up Your Feet program.
Fire Up Your Feet — a partnership between the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, Kaiser Permanente and the National PTA — is designed to encourage families, students and schools to work together and create active lifestyles which inspire our children to be healthy and physically active.
On Tuesday, March 12, Beth Richards, Development Director at the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, joined advocates for a webinar with the Alliance for Biking & Walking to explain how advocacy organizations can bring the initiative to their state or region.
New Resources for Schools Across the Country
A new healthy fundraising option is available to any school or PTA/school group in the country. Centered around collecting pledges for physical activity or a healthy event at your school, the Fire Up Your Feet fundraising tools enables students, teachers and parents to create personal fundraising pages to track physical activity, then collect pledges and sponsorships from family and community members. Schools receive 75% of the funds they raise — far more than a school would raise in a typical wrapping paper fundraiser.
Plus, Fire Up Your Feet helps groups invest these dollars back into school wellness efforts such as bike racks, pedestrian and bicycle safety programs, and other activities to promote healthy, active schools.
Activity Challenges and Challenge Awards
In certain sponsored regions and states, Activity Challenges further encourage physical activity before, during and after school.
Currently, schools California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Southwest Washington state, the Metro Atlanta region, North East Ohio, the Greater Baltimore region, and the Greater Washington DC area are eligible to join Activity Challenges. Parents in participating areas can register for the program and track their activities (such as walking or biking to school) to earn awards for their school or parent-teacher organization.
Schools that win Challenge Awards, up to $1,000 in most regions, will be able to use the funding as they see fit — such as for building bike racks or supporting Safe Routes to School education courses.
Advocates and organizations located outside of these states and regions can bring customized Fire Up Your Feet programs and Activity Challenges to their areas, too.
On the webinar, Beth discussed how advocates outside of Kaiser regions can work with the Safe Routes to School National Partnership to bring full programming to their areas. Beth outlined the following steps:
To learn more about bringing Fire Up Your Feet to your state or region, register online for one of two upcoming webinars offered by the Safe Routes to School National Partnership.
Tags: safe routes to school national partnership, safe routes to school, national pta, kaiser permanente, fire up your feet
How Bike Advocates Won the Super Bowl
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 11, 2013
Advocacy Advance, the collaborative advocacy team composed of staff from the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking & Walking, recently awarded a series of Rapid Response Grants. These quick-turnaround grants help state and local advocacy organizations take advantage of unexpected opportunities to win, increase, or preserve funding for biking and walking.
In this series of blog posts, we talk with recipients of the grants about their advocacy campaigns.
When asked who won Super Bowl XLVII, most people would answer that the Ravens bested the 49ers. It’s a lesser-known fact that New Orleans biking and walking advocates also scored a major victory as part of the year’s biggest football game.
Leading up to the 2013 Super Bowl, the New Orleans city government planned transportation investments in the downtown “Hospitality Zone” — the bustling French Quarter and Central Business District areas frequented by tourists and New Orleanians alike.
The French Quarter is a bustling center for walkers and bicyclists. Photos: TMZPhotos/Flickr
Leaders at Bike Easy, a biking and walking advocacy organization based in New Orleans, knew that the changes should include improvements to make biking and walking safer and more convenient.
With help from a Rapid Response grant from Advocacy Advance, Bike Easy launched a campaign to ensure that downtown resurfacing implemented New Orleans’s new Complete Streets policy with bike lanes, bike parking, pedestrian islands and traffic calming along the renovated streets.
Kicking Off a Complex Match
Bike Easy found broad support at the initial public meetings. “We met a lot of people who were speaking up for biking and walking infrastructure,” said Jamie Wine, Executive Director of Bike Easy.
The Department of Public Works’ original game plan reflected public sentiment. Plans that DPW officials discussed in the summer of 2012 featured sharrows on slow, narrow streets as well as a lane reduction and 8 blocks of new bike lanes along Decatur Street, a major downtown thoroughfare.
But in the fall, Jamie was surprised to hear from an ally inside DPW warning him that the city had reduced the number of bike lanes on Decatur without giving public notice.
Jamie was shocked at the quick turnover. “We expected the project would have 8 blocks of bike lanes in both directions, but the plan they unrolled involved about 2 ½ blocks on only one side.”
Installing the full bike lanes on both sides would have meant taking out a lane of auto traffic, and the sudden change of plans seemed quite a setback for biking & walking priorities originally outlined by the DPW and supported by the community.
Taking it to the Streets
After hearing about the alarming changes, and knowing there was less than a week to spare before the contractors laid the paint, Jamie reached out to the mayor’s office but received no response.
Finally, Bike Easy took a bold move, “I emailed the Mayor’s office and said, ‘if you don’t talk to us about this, we’re going to have a rally,’” Jamie recalled. “They reached out and said ‘don’t rally – let’s work this out.’ So we held off.”
Bike Easy rallied their members and advocates over the course of two weeks. During that time, the French Quarter Business Association, the elite Vieux Carre, the University of New Orleans Transportation Institute, and other advocates like Ride New Orleans and KidsWalk Coaliton all came to the table with letters of support.
Moreover, the key support of Councilmember Kristen Palmer, who had championed biking issues in the past for the prime location in the French Quarter, came on board along with a new ally in Councilmember Stacy Head.
“Kristin’s office called in DPW into a meeting in chambers with Bike Easy,” recalled Jamie. “She said, ‘These are our constituents, and they’re saying that a lane reduction will not be controversial. Go ahead with it, and we will field any political blowback.’”
Still, though, DPW would not budge. “They said no way,” Jamie recalled.
With negotiations falling short and the clock running down, Bike Easy went on the offensive and rekindled the rally.
“On Tuesday, November 20, we rallied in the core of the French Quarter,” Jamie said. “They had the lane closed because they had just laid the pavement and steamrolled it, but hadn’t painted it yet. We worked with Neighborland to put down fake bike lanes. Hundreds of residents showed up, garnering signs and we had a blast demonstrating how bike lanes make it easier and safer for all road users along Decatur Street. We got a lot of honks for bike lanes from cars and the horse buggies too!”
The rally proved a smart play: with the large crowd Bike Easy earned coverage on local television stations and blogs and really created a buzz around the issue.
A woman broadcasts her support for Decatur Street bike lanes during Bike Easy’s rally. Photo: Bike Easy/Facebook
A mom and son rallying for bike lanes on Decatur Street. Photo: Bike Easy/Facebook
A week later, when the City painted the resurfaced roads, Jamie was pleasantly surprised to discover 6 blocks of two way bicycle lanes — more than double the 2 ½ blocks of lanes that DPW had promised.
“We didn’t know that we’d get the additional blocks of bike lanes until they were actually down on the ground,” recalled Jamie. “Advocates from other cities like Seattle and Portland were surprised that we were able to influence the design so late in the project timeline.”
Overall, the campaign was a big win for Bike Easy. By the time the Super Bowl rolled into New Orleans, downtown boasted 6 new blocks of bicycle lanes, 4 pedestrian islands with high-visibility crosswalks, lane reductions on 4 blocks and 2 miles of shared lane markings and signage.
“I’m really pleased with it. I’m surprised at how much traction we got,” Jamie said.
Photos courtesy Bike Easy
Thanks to the Rapid Response grant, the organization also won new allies.
“The profile that we gained has been even greater than our gains from the actual infrastructure,” said Jamie. “We won new and more committed partners from this process. We’re going to have more insight and more say and relationships going forward.”
The Next Season
So what’s next for Bike Easy?
Going forward, New Orleans advocates hope to encourage greater transparency at the public works department. DPW has pledged to work with Bike Easy on plans to implement complete streets.
Jamie said that the city is planning 12 new miles of bike lanes, and public officials are more engaged than ever. “The personal assistant to the mayor has called me several times to talk about bike share and involving the mayor in bike to work day again,” Jamie said.
Tags: super bowl, ride new orleans, new orleans, neighborlands, kidswalk coalition, french quarter, decatur street, bike easy
Engaging Businesses in Open Streets: Lessons from an Alliance Mutual Aid Call
By Mike Samuelson on March 08, 2013
It should come as little surprise to advocates that Open Streets initiatives can be a great boost for local businesses. With thousands of potential customers traveling at a people-powered pace along streets normally filled with cars, local storefronts serve as giant advertisements and testing grounds for their own businesses.
On the flip side, organizers of Open Streets initiatives have lots to gain from the support of local businesses located on or near the route. Support from local businesses can garner in-kind donations, publicity, increased participation and even funding.
A local restaurant’s customer base spills into the streets during a Berkeley Sunday Streets event. Photo: North Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto/Flickr
The first step is to pick a route that features a variety of businesses.
“It may seem like common sense,” said panelist Matt Garbett of the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, who organizes Atlanta Streets Alive, “but we’ve found that if there weren’t businesses there to engage, there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Panelists emphasized that organizers should reach out early and often to businesses along the route. In Berkeley, Sunday Streets organizer Emunah Hauser learned that it was helpful to distinguish Open Streets from a traditional street fair by letting business owners know that they would have full access to the street.
People gather to watch a breakdancer in front of businesses during Berkeley Sunday Streets. Photo: Downtown Berkeley Association/Flickr“As soon as you say ‘your storefront will not be blocked,’ it changes the perception,” she said.
Businesses can be fantastic partners in promoting Open Streets, but panelists cautioned advocates not to assume that all business owners would be savvy marketers.
Joni Bonnell, Executive Director of the Lowry Corridor Business Association in North Minneapolis, learned this lesson while working to engage businesses in her association in preparation for Open Streets Minneapolis’ initiative last fall.
“Many smaller businesses don’t have Facebook pages, and a few business owners didn’t even have an email address,” she said.
Instead, Joni reached out to local media outlets.
“We brought in a local newspaper that delivers to all residents, and created an insert with articles, coupons from merchants, and a map of the entire street,” Joni explained. “The newspaper distributed the insert with the paper and also gave us 3,000 [advance] copies to distribute as advertising in bike shops around the city. We also used the insert on the day of the event as a map. The insert allowed our business owners to advertise at a very reasonable price.”
The local business association worked with a local newspaper to develop this leaflet for Open Streets Minneapolis. Image via Open Streets MPLS
Some businesses may not be sure how to best take advantage of an Open Streets initiative. In Atlanta, Matt found it helpful to brainstorm with businesses about activities they could have in front of their stores.
“Boutiques and furniture places often say there’s no way for them to get involved, so we send a creative person from our staff to scheme up ideas about how they can participate,” Matt explained. “Even if they don’t adopt our zany ideas (like a pillow fight in front of a furniture store), the excitement of brainstorming is engaging.”
A street full of potential customers during an Atlanta Open Streets event. Photo: Kevin Ward for Atlanta Streets Alive
Organizers agreed that developing relationships with local businesspeople is key for an initiative’s long-term success. Forming strong relationships with owners of businesses along past routes has proved essential in Atlanta.
“You can offer other businesses as referrals [to businesses along new routes], so keep track of your contacts at businesses that get involved,” said Matt.
In Minneapolis, Joni found it useful to debrief with business owners after the Open Streets event.
“We asked each business about positives and negatives,” explained Joni. “I learned that we should have used more signage to show attendees on one end of the avenue that there were more events down the street. We found out that one restaurant had their busiest day ever.”
Key to all advice shared on the call was the need to develop strong relationships and be sensitive to the needs of local businesses.
Open Streets participants in Berkeley dance in front of local storefronts. Photo: Downtown Berkeley Association/Flickr
Want to learn more? Members of the Alliance can find a call recording and full tip sheet from the call online here.
You can learn more about all things Open Streets at our Open Streets Project site. Alliance Mutual Aid Calls are free and open to anyone interested in learning about best practices, innovations and challenges in biking and walking advocacy. To sign up for future Mutual Aid Calls by the Alliance, check out our events page.
Tags: sunday streets, open streets minneapolis, open streets, mutual aid calls, mutual aid call, minneapolis, berkeley, atlanta bicycle coalition, atlanta
Bike Jewelry, Bowties, & Wheelies: Twitter Roundup of Advocates at the National Bike Summit
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 07, 2013
Biking and walking advocates from all across the continent came to Washington, DC this week for the 2013 National Bike Summit. Check our our roundup of tweets, images and blog posts about advocates’ impressions and impacts on Capitol Hill.
Congratulations to the 2013 Advocacy Awards Winners
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 06, 2013
On Tuesday night, we held the fifth annual Advocacy Awards reception, the Alliance’s awards ceremony to shine the spotlight on the progress and victories of the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy movement. In a bustling room full of excited advocates fresh out of the opening plenary of the 2013 National Bike Summit, we awarded trophies to the year’s most successful campaigns, dedicated advocates and supportive businesses.
This year, the Alliance honors the following winners from across North America.
Melody Moody of Bike Walk Mississippi moves to the front of the crowd to accept Bike Walk Mississippi’s award for Advocacy Organization of the Year
Advocacy Organization of the Year- Bike Walk Mississippi
“In a state in which previous biking and walking advocacy depended on coincidental personal interest from elected officials, Bike Walk Mississippi have ignited a movement that has commanded attention in every recent transportation-related election.” That would be high praise coming from anyone, but when a quote like that comes from the Chamber of Commerce in a state’s largest city, it means just a little bit more. “As a state with a high prevalence of obesity, Bike Walk Mississippi is making it safer and more accessible to exercise and have fun biking and walking in our community,” echoed Sarah Welker from the Mississippi Economic Policy Center. As local and national organizations continue to emphasize the connection between active transportation and economic growth, perhaps they should take a cue from the fantastic advocates from Bike Walk Mississippi. Other highlights from the past year include receiving funding to hold their first Open Streets initiative (set for this April), advocating for the passing of the John Paul Frerer Bicycle Safety Act (which established a 3-foot minimum passing distance) and opening Jackon’s first community bike shop in the Midtown neighborhood.
Rebecca Serna accepts the award for Advocate of the Year
Advocate of the Year: Rebecca Serna, Atlanta Bicycle Coalition
This award goes to an individual who has shown tireless commitment to promoting bicycling and walking in his or her community. Rebecca Serna has been Atlanta Bicycle Coalition’s Executive Director for over 5 years, and a board member of Georgia Bikes. During this time she has worked with leaders and elected officials from across the region to make Atlanta a better place to bike. As we saw earlier with Georgia’s Complete Streets policy, the Southeast U.S. is a region that is making great strives to become more walkable and bikeable, Rebecca’s work is an inspiration to those around her. “The work that she does sets the bar for the surrounding cities and counties,” said Sonja Parham, who nominated her for the award. The Alliance and the League awarded Atlanta Bicycle Coalition our largest Advocacy Advance Model Grant and they have been an incredible partner, mentor, and example for other organizations across the continent. Jessica Estep, who nominated Rebecca for this award, said that Rebecca has dedicated herself to “making a city that used to be bike-unfriendly into a blossoming city for bicycles, and she does it all with an air of humility. She deserves this award more than anyone else.” We couldn’t agree more!
Primal Wear team members accept the Business Advocate of the Year award from Alliance President / CEO Jeff Miller
Business Advocate of the Year: Primal Wear
Primal Wear has always been known for their great cycling gear, but their recent dedication to creating better streets for biking has made the name Primal synonymous with advocacy. Not only did Primal come on as a strong sponsor of the Alliance last year, including making some awesome jackets for our 2012 Leadership Retreat, but they have been supporting local and state groups for years, including Bicycle Colorado, Bike Texas and Bike Denver. At the national level, Primal has been a long time supporter of IMBA and Bikes Belong, and they recently revved up their efforts with the League of American Bicyclists as Titanium level sponsor of the Summit, and providing all participants with their own Primal custom jersey.
Lifetime Achievement Award: Barb Culp
Washington State has been ranked the best state for biking by the League of American Bicyclists for the past 5 years, and this is due in no small part to the influence and leadership of Barbara Culp. Barb has been a leader in biking advocacy for decades. She has been executive Director of Bicycle Alliance of Washington twice, for a combined 13 years, as well as previously working for Cascade Bicycle Club as their education director and promoting bicycling and walking as commuter solutions at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Her leadership has led to increased bicycle infrastructure in Washington, better education for all users of the road and increased communication between bicycle advocates and Washington DOT. Barb also served as a board member for the Alliance and was our Vice-Chair for many of those years, where her leadership helped us in our critical mission in strengthening and uniting local and state organizations. We will miss Barb as she retires and steps back from her leadership positions, but her legacy and impact will continue to inspire advocates in Washington State and across the continent.
Georgia Bikes! staff accept the award for Winning Campaign of the Year
Winning Campaign of the Year: Georgia Bikes! for Georgia’s Complete Streets Policy
While many outsiders may look at the South as a region that has historically not been the most bike friendly, advocates across the region are working to change that. Nowhere was this more evident than in Georgia, where leaders from local and state biking and walking advocacy organizations worked with the state DOT to pass a Complete Streets Design Policy. The push was led by Georgia Bikes!, who caught the attention of DOT officials during a Ride to the Capitol when the crowd started chanting “Complete the Streets!”. While DOT officials thought they already had a great policy in place, the raucous advocates let them know there was more to be done, which opened up further conversations. After countless meetings and hours of advocacy, Georgia DOT adopted a policy on September 20, 2012 that will ensure that wherever possible, road designs will properly balance the needs of all modes of transportation. And as a bonus first in the nation, Georgia became the first state to adopt the new NACTO Guide for Bikeway Facilities! As Georgia Bikes said in their blog post celebrating the new policy, “Can we get an AMEN!?”
Renee Rivera accepts the Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm award
Susie Stephens Joyful Enthusiasm Award: Renee Rivera, East Bay Bicycle Coalition
This award commemorates Alliance co-founder Susie Stephens, honoring her passion for biking and walking as fun and economical means of transportation. This year, the award goes to Renee Rivera, Executive Director of the East Bay Bicycle Coalition. The parallels between Susie and Renee are many. Renee has tackled many challenging situations but always maintains a calm, resilient “can-do” attitude and is always a joy to work with. “Being an Executive Director can’t be an easy job, but Renee handles it with seeming ease and enthusiasm,” said Dave Campbell, Executive Director of the California Bicycle Coalition. “And she’s a workhorse in handling so many aspects of our work in the East Bay, yet her positive attitude still makes everyone feel comfortable and motivated to do their best.” Leah Shahum, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition—of which Renee previously served as interim director—agreed: “It has been wonderful to see communities throughout the SF Bay Area’s East Bay become organized to be more bike-friedly, in large part thanks to Renee’s strong leadership—a combination of great focus and joyful celebration of biking.”
Advocates from the Local Spokes coalition accept the 2013 Innovation Award
Innovation Award: Local Spokes
The Innovation Award goes to an organization that’s pioneering or inventing new ways to promote biking and walking – and the Local Spokes Coalition has certainly been leading the way. Their fearless approach to creating community partnerships has created a model for cities across North America. Comprised of nine organizations working on various issues in New York City, including Alliance members Transportation Alternatives and Recycle-A-Bicycle, Local Spokes has shown the power of starting conversations without an agenda and letting community members lead the way. Working in New York’s Lower East Side and Chinatown neighborhoods, the coalition spent several years working to “engage, understand and advocate for the community’s various perspectives on cycling through multilingual outreach, public participation activities and a Youth Ambassadors program.” The result was a Neighborhood Action Plan released in May of 2012, and continued resource development to aid work in other underserved communities.
Tags: local spokes, george bikes, east bay bicycle coalition, bike walk mississippi, barb culp, atlanta bicycle coalition, advocacy awards reception, advocacy awards
Cascade Bicycle Club Poll Busts the “War On Cars” Myth
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 01, 2013
Craig Benjamin, Policy and Government Affairs Manager at the Cascade Bicycle Club, didn’t understand why media outlets kept talking about a “war on cars” in Seattle.
All over the city, he saw neighborhood streets that weren’t safe for kids. Traffic made streets less livable for families. Families wanted to drive less, but didn’t have good alternatives. Politicians talked about making streets safer, but continued to build roads and highways rather than making the city’s existing roads safer for everybody.
To address these issues, caring neighbors used sidewalks, neighborhood greenways, and bike lanes to make neighborhoods better and build safer streets for children.
But still, Seattle’s media outlets harped on a consistent theme. The city, they said, was waging a malicious “war on cars” that was making Seattle’s traffic worse. Stories like this one (and this one, and this one, and, for good measure, this one) abounded. It seemed that the city’s reporters had practically declared consensus on the matter.
Craig and fellow Cascade advocates were skeptical that the dominant media narrative actually reflected what Seattle residents thought. Facing strong “bikelash,” they decided to run an independent poll to test how Seattleites actually felt about the anti-bike stories.
To begin, Cascade got to work defining the structure of the harmful narrative.
“We deconstructed the ‘war on cars’ story into its component pieces,” recalled Craig on a recent Mutual Aid Call with the Alliance. “One of the funnest days I ever spent was looking at all the stories in our opposition. They were saying the same thing over and over again.”
Based on a thorough analysis of stories that utilized the “war on cars” meme, he developed this summary:
“That story is the basic outline of our opposition’s narrative,” Craig said. “It doesn’t contain any facts, statistics, or figures. It has a very clear structure with villains and heroes.”
Independent polling group Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates then designed a poll put the assumptions in the “war on cars” narrative to a test.
They found that most people in Seattle did not believe the anti-bicycle rhetoric. Only 31% of people agreed that Seattle was waging a “war on cars.”
Rather than believing that social engineers were trying to force people out of their cars, most Seattle voters had a favorable view of bicycling and of road improvements like sidewalks, bikeways, and neighborhood greenways. The vast majority of Seattle residents — fully 79% — have a favorable opinion of bicyclists. Most of the city’s residents — 78% — actually ride a bike, and 60% would like to ride more often. What’s more, 59% of voters said that they support replacing lanes on roads and some on-street parking to make protected bikeways.
Cascade then got to work publicizing the poll results. They gave an exclusive to Seattle’s alternative weekly paper, The Stranger, which ran a large feature on the poll results.
A blog post at the Seattle Times, which had featured many stories buying into the “war on cars” narrative that sparked inflamed anti-bike comment threads, even wrote, “How about that? It almost makes you wonder if the people who comment on news stories don’t reflect the majority of public opinion.”
But Craig and fellow Cascade advocates didn’t just want to poke holes in the “war on cars” narratiave — they wanted to find a strong alternative story.
“Our brains are literally wired for stories,” explained Craig. “If we’re serious about winning, we need to develop a narrative that’s stronger than the opposition’s.”
In the same poll, the independent polling firm asked Seattle residents about their views on components of an alternative narrative that Cascade could use to help citizens work together to build safer neighborhoods for kids.
Thanks to the poll, Cascade was able to develop a new narrative that tested positively among Seattle residents. (To learn the narrative that the pollsters developed, check out the handy message card at the end of this post.)
Cascade couldn’t be more pleased with the results.
“Now all of our message development works really well,” Craig said. “We pull story elements for everything we do. We know the story for each campaign. It allows us to focus on threading this narrative through all of our communications tactics.”
Next, Cascade hopes to bring lessons from the polling to fellow advocates in the field.
“We will be training all our allies in how to use this narrative,” said Craig.
Stay tuned for opportunities to learn more from Cascade about their messaging testing and ways to take advantage of their efforts in your area.
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Memphis Advocates Win Complete Streets Policy
By Mary Lauran Hall on February 26, 2013
After a long campaign to institute a Complete Streets policy in the city, Memphis, Tennessee advocates are proud to report that Mayor A.C. Wharton just recently signed an executive order stipulating that all new road construction projects and major renovations include accommodations for biking, walking and transit in addition to automobiles.
Alliance members Livable Memphis spearheaded a multi-year grassroots campaign with the assistance of multiple local and national allies.
“It began a couple of years ago when we partnered with the Urban Land Institute‘s Memphis District Council to bring the National Complete Streets Coalition to do a preliminary training workshop,” explained Sarah Newstok, Program Coordinator at Livable Memphis.
“We took on this campaign because we wanted to institutionalize adding walking and biking facilities and making streets safer for everyone, rather than doing it as a piece by piece basis,” she said. “We wanted an overall policy so that all users would be considered during a street project.”
Sarah and her fellow advocates quickly realized that Memphis’s campaign would be quite different from most Complete Streets initiatives.
“It became very obvious that usually this is a top down effort — normally cities initiate the process to get a policy done,” Sarah said. “In Memphis’s case, it was really a grassroots process. And when it’s from the grassroots, it’s a much more challenging position.”
To form the basis for a strong campaign, Livable Memphis and ULI formed a small coalition of important players from the workshop.
“We created a Complete Streets policy development team that included high level representation from realtors, developers, transit authority, utilities, city and county engineering regional design centers, key citizens with law backgrounds, the University of Memphis and some public health spokespeople,” Sarah said.
The group of stakeholders met for two hours every two weeks over the course of four months to draft visioning goals for Memphis and a Complete Streets executive order. Sarah noted that while it was no small feat to bring together high-level stakeholders for so much time over the course of several months, these meetings were essential because they produced a strong policy and helped Livable Memphis secure broad support and engagement early on.
To ensure broader community involvement, Livable Memphis launched a simple campaign site — midsouthcompletestreets.org — to serve as a central source of information. With assistance from a grant from the National Association of Realtors through the Memphis Association of Realtors, the advocates created an informational video on Complete Streets and hired an outreach coordinator to bring the video and Complete Streets presentations to community-based stakeholders across the city.
Once the vision and executive order were complete, Livable Memphis worked with the mayor’s office to advance the policy. This month, Mayor A.C. Wharton signed the executive order.
While the campaign win feels great, Sarah and her colleagues still have plenty of work to do.
“The executive order directs the city engineers to create a street design manual that will be used for all deparmtners,” Sarah said. “We’re working to make sure that happens and are trying to help our bike/ped coordinator to get it done in the most community-involved way.”
Congratulations, Livable Memphis!
Tags: urban land institute, national association of realtors, livable memphis, complete streets coalition, complete streets
Overheard at the Youth Bike Summit
By Mary Lauran Hall on February 26, 2013
Two weeks ago, Alliance members Recycle-A-Bicycle held their third annual Youth Bike Summit an inter-generational exchange between youth, advocates and educators from around the country who are working to promote bicycling and bicycle education in their communities. The Alliance for Biking & Walking was proud to sponsor the 2013 Youth Bike Summit as part of our efforts to support community bike shops.
The weekend was jam-packed with inspiring stories and lessons from youth and adults who are working to make bicycling more accessible in communities. Here are some of our favorite overheard comments from the event.
“On a bike, I was able to experience so many firsts. … I rode over my first bridge. I caught my first fish with my dad. I built my first bike. I went to the high line for the first time, I’m giving my first speech. And for the first time, I’m going to the National Bike Summit in DC. Everything is scary the first time, but if you can do it more than once, it can be a blast.”
“At first it sounded like a crazy idea that would never happen — to get youth from all over the country together to talk about bicycles.”
“Due to the clear and present danger of bicycling to school, bicycling is discouraged.”
“Quality sidewalks and protected bike paths are not cute architectural features. They are a right.”
“I’m thrilled to see so many young people participating in an event focused on environmental sustainability and social empowerment.”
“There are often three main obstacles to biking in low-income communities: where to get a bike, where to get a bike fixed, and people to ride with.”
“We want to highlight why people are biking, why people feel empowered by biking, why they love biking, and all the diverse neighborhoods that people are biking in.”
“It started as wanting to cycle more, and it’s really turned into a movement.”
“We are a for-profit company, but we’re doing it because it’s something we believe in. We believe in the power of the bicycle to improve the world.”
Forget the Oscars — Who Will Win Advocate of the Year?
By Mary Lauran Hall on February 25, 2013
Hollywood’s red carpets are already being stored in a Los Angeles warehouse, but we’re just getting warmed up for the biggest award event of the year in biking and walking advocacy!
If you’ll be in town for the National Bike Summit next week in Washington, DC, be sure to pencil in the 2013 Advocacy Awards on Monday night after the opening plenary.
Who will be named 2013’s advocate of the year? Which Alliance member group will be named advocacy organization of the year? Come join your colleagues for brews and bravos to find out.
This year, the awards will be held at 8:30 on Monday, March 4, 2013 at RFD, located at 810 7th St NW in Washington, DC — just a short walk away from the National Bike Summit hotel.
We hope to see you there!
Bike Cleveland Continues to Grow After Founding Summit
By Mike Samuelson on February 19, 2013
A little over a year ago, 125 people spent a weekend with one goal: create the best possible organization to advocate on behalf of Cleveland’s cycling community.
Over those two days, participants at the Bike Cleveland Summit discussed what they wanted cycling to look like in Cleveland, and how an advocacy organization could help make their vision a reality. The summit, facilitated by the Alliance for Biking & Walking, sought to create an organization that all of Cleveland’s diverse cycling community could support.
Participants at the Bike Cleveland Summit in September of 2011. Photo: Bike Cleveland
Summit participants channeled their enthusiasm and strategies into Bike Cleveland, a new advocacy group that represents the region’s unique culture and cyclists. The group celebrated its first birthday in September and has grown tremendously since its founding. Leaders of the organization (and their web site’s history page) are quick to point out that they couldn’t have made so much progress so quickly without their founding summit.
“Prior to the Bike Cleveland Summit, Bike Cleveland did not exist,” said Jacob VanSickle, Executive Director of Bike Cleveland. “Because of the summit we were able to gain the respect of the local foundation community and receive a start-up grant to fund Bike Cleveland’s first staff person.”
While there had previously been several groups in Cleveland working to create safer streets for cycling, Bike Cleveland provided the region a unified voice.
“Not only did the summit bring together the foundation community, but because it was promoted as the unification of Cleveland cyclists, it also energized the local cycling community,” explained Jacob. “125 people spent two days framing the future work of a new bike advocacy organization. This engagement led to a sizable membership and volunteer base right from day 1 of Bike Cleveland’s work.”
As a larger and united organization, Bike Cleveland has been working to include previously disenfranchised groups in their work. “One key focus that came out of the founding summit was the need to engage necessity cyclists in our advocacy work,” said Jacob.
“To begin to tackle this task we developed, with the leadership of a couple of our members, an outreach program where we engage with local neighborhood stakeholders and hold fix-a-thons and light giveaways with our volunteers and members. After the events we re-engage participants by organizing neighborhood based rides, wtih the ultimate goal of engaging those residents by identifying projects in their neighborhood they would like to see (or engage them in existing infrastructure campaigns we are involved in).”
Bike Fix-A-Thon in Glenwood, Cleveland. Photo: Bike Cleveland
All of these new and dedicated members has led to lots of changes on the ground that are making cycling safer in Cleveland. Bike Cleveland’s most notable accomplishments in first year included:
Newly installed sharrows in Cleveland’s Rocky River Reservation. Photo: Bike Cleveland
While 2012 was a great opening act for Bike Cleveland, the group is just getting started and has plenty of ideas for how to make cycling better in 2013 and beyond. Jacob says the organization is planning a citywide awareness campaign, installing new on-street bike parking, creating a commuter cycling guide and much, much more.
And the Bike Cleveland Summit was key to the organization’s current success.
“Thinking back to the planning of the summit, I think one of the most important things the process did was engage people in every step,” recalled Jacob. “I’d say 95% of the people who were engaged with the process at some level are some of Bike Cleveland’s biggest promoters.”
Cleveland Bike to Work Day 2012. Photo: Bike Cleveland
Cyclists showed off their red, white, and blue during Bike Cleveland’s 2012 Independence Day ride. Photo: Bike Cleveland
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Dr. Enrique Peñalosa Delivers Keynote Speech at Recycle-A-Bicycle’s 3rd Annual Youth Bike Summit
By Mary Lauran Hall on February 19, 2013
Last weekend, Recycle-A-Bicycle held the third annual Youth Bike Summit, an inter-generational exchange between youth, advocates and educators from around the country who are working to promote bicycling and bicycle education in their communities. The Alliance for Biking & Walking was proud to sponsor the 2013 Youth Bike Summit as part of our efforts to support community bike shops.
Dr. Enrique Peñalosa, former mayor of Bogotá, Colombia, delivered a keynote address at the New York City event. Dr. Peñalosa earned worldwide notoriety for bringing a vast network of bicycle paths, cutting-edge pedestrian promenades, and a world-class bus rapid transit system to Bogotá. The following passages are excerpted from Dr. Peñalosa’s keynote remarks.
Original image: EMBARQ Brasil/Flickr
“Bicycles are revolutionary machines: they construct equality. … While cars are a means of social differentiation and exclusion, bicycles integrate people as equals. When two people on bicycles meet, they meet as human beings.”
Original image: Claudio Olivares/Flickr
“Saving on public transport by using a bicycle saves between 15% and 40% for a low-income person. A protected bicycle way is a symbol of democracy. It shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is just as important as a citizen in a $30,000 car.”
“Parking is not a constitutional right in any country.”
Image: Ed Yourdon/Flickr
“We don’t have a right to go to most of the world. The only piece of planet to which you have access is public pedestrian space – sidewalks, bikeways, parks. In the 20th century, we made enormous mistakes in our human habitat. We worked hard to make it much more for cars’ mobility, not for human beings.”
Original image: Paul Krueger/Flickr
“All citizens are equal before the law. If that’s true, a citizen in a car has the same right to road space as one on a bicycle. For example, a bus with 80 passengers has the right to 80 times more road space than a car with one. Sometimes inequality is before our noses and we don’t realize it because we are used to it. Most cities in the world give more room to parked cars than to pedestrians and bicyclists. And we think this is normal.”
Original image: wileymcb/Flickr
“Sidewalks are for playing, for talking, for kissing. Ideally, sidewalks in every city should continue at grade. And cars should have to go up and down to make it clear that cars are entering pedestrian space and not that pedestrians are entering car space.”
Image: Saúl Ortega/Flickr
“In Bogotá, we close 120 kilometers of main arterial roads to cars every Sunday for 7 hours. Ciclovía is a ritual, a ceremony reminding us that the city belongs to people, more than to cars. … Besides, it’s always fun to do things you are not allowed to do.”
Image: EMBARQ Brasil/Flickr
“If you want a more bicycle-friendly world, it will not be the result of technical or academic analysis (as valuable as they are), but of political pressures and decisions. Therefore, get organized and participate in politics!”
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