#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.
Campaign Update: Pennsylvania Moves Towards Dedicated Biking & Walking Funding
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 19, 2013
Thanks to great grassroots advocacy, Pennsylvania just got a little closer to recognizing walking and biking as truly integral components of the state’s transportation system.
Republican state senator John Rafferty, chair of the Senate transportation committee, introduced a bill this week that would create dedicated funding for walking and biking paths in the state. He also plans to propose a Complete Streets policy — a bill stipulating that transportation planners consider people traveling by bike, on foot, and by transit in addition to by car.
The dedicated funding provision will be attached to a larger statewide transportation funding measure and would raise $2.5 billion for transportation in the state annually by drawing on wholesale fuel taxes.
This is Pennsylvania’s first commitment to designate specific transportation dollars for active transportation — and it will have a huge impact on walkability and bikeability in neighborhood streets. Governor Tom Corbett’s transportation secretary Barry Schoch acknowledged that the state’s engineers and planners routinely try to incorporate bike and walk infrastructure into construction projects, but often lack funding to do so. With dedicated funding, cities and towns will have clear budget sources for active transportation projects.
The passage of this bill would be big news for Pennsylvania advocates, who have been steadily working on a statewide campaign to fund walking and biking under a new transportation budget. The Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia received a Rapid Response Grant from Advocacy Advance to work with the Keystone Transportation Funding Coalition to educate legislators across the state.
Advocates’ success in Pennsylvania speaks to the power of uniting new partners — including local chambers of commerce, health groups and transit groups — around building healthier, more economically vibrant neighborhoods. In addition to working with other biking and walking group sin the state, the Bicycle Coalition’s partners new include state representatives of the American Heart Association and Mission: Readiness, an organization of retired military officials who support policies to boost physical activity among youth.
“We are extremely pleased that biking and walking is included in this comprehensive transportation bill,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the BCGP and board member of Pennsylvania Walks and Bikes and Tuesday’s press conference. “This is a great chance to make Pennsylvania’s streets safer for the increasing number of Pennsylvanians who are walking and biking to work, school and for exercise.”
Tags: pennsylvania, mission: readiness, keystone transportation funding coalition, bicycle coalition of greater philadelphia, american heart association
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Marketing the Economic Benefits of Bike Tourism
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 13, 2013
Bicycle tourism has significant impacts on economies of all scales. According to a recent Advocacy Advance report, the state of Maine generates an estimated $66 million per year in bicycle tourism; North Carolina’s Outer Banks alone generates $60 million annually in economic activity from bicycle tourism.
Last week, the Alliance convened four experts on bike tourism and advocacy to discuss how advocates can use tap into the economic benefits of bike tourism to advance bicycle advocacy. Even if you missed the call, check out the tip sheet below for the major takeaway points. You can also listen to a recording of the call here.
Update 5/1/13: Ginny also assembled this collection of bicycle tourism economic impact studies.
Tags: sonoma bicycle coalition, path less pedaled, mutual aid conference calls, mutual aid call, bike tourism, adventure cycling
Green Lane Project Seeks Cities’ Input on Protected Bikeways
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 10, 2013
Do you — or does someone you know — work on innovative bikeway designs at the city level?
The Bikes Belong Foundation’s Green Lane Project would like input on national design standards from people who work as staff or consultants on city bikeway projects. If that sounds like you, click on over to this 16-question survey about the state of current design guidance. Responses are confidential and should be received by April 20.
Separated bikeways are fast becoming an integral part of cities’ transportation landscapes. Still, many of the guides that planners and engineers use to build our neighborhood streets don’t offer specifications on protected bikeways. The trend led USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood to comment that national design standards should be up-to-date and responsive to today’s transportation needs. This survey will gather input on the topic from people working on the ground to design innovative new facilities like protected bike lanes, and preliminary results will be shared at the April 29 USDOT Bike Safety Summit in Minneapolis.
Respondents will enter a drawing for a custom Patagonia rain jacket and PeopleForBikes.org goodies. Plus, all cities that respond will also be invited to apply for the next phase of the Green Lane Project (2014-2015).
More Winning Campaigns on the Horizon in Georgia
By Mike Samuelson on April 08, 2013
Despite recent gains for biking and walking in Georgia — a statewide Complete Streets policy, new bike lanes on bridges, big funding for bike projects and Open Streets in Atlanta — advocates in the Peach State are not resting on their laurels.
Over this past weekend, 22 advocates from across the state – plus one each from Alabama and South Carolina – attended the Alliance’s Winning Campaigns Training in Athens. Hosted by Georgia Bikes!, the training walked participants through choosing a campaign and the seven elements of campaign planning: Issue Definition, Goals, Resource Assessment, Strategy, Communications, Tactics and Budgeting.
“The training focused, inspired and energized our group. It changed the way I think about our work,” said John Bennett, executive director of the Savannah Bicycle Campaign. Thanks to blueprints developed at the training, the organization will embark on a campaign to create a trail to connect several neighborhoods in Savannah.
Board member Arte Rahn agreed with John that the training was a transformational weekend for the Savannah organization. “This really energized us and clarified how to mount a successful campaign,” he said.
The training ran from Friday evening from Sunday afternoon, and included plenty of networking time and opportunities to explore the local community. Saturday night was a particular highlight, with participants given the opportunity to take a look at Bike Athens’ Bike Recycling Program, a community bike shop that serves the city.
For local organization Bike Athens, leaders used the training to create a campaign to connect a greenway and transit center. The training was the first opportunity for local leaders to learn the essentials of planning and implementing an advocacy campaign.
“I did not know how to plan and implement a campaign and engage membership,” said executive director Tyler Dewey. “Now I do.”
Tyler also enjoyed the hands-on nature of the training, which allowed participants the opportunity to take a campaign concept and walk away with a blueprint for moving forward. “It was not theory, it was practical,” he said.
Georgia Bikes! executive director Brent Buice found the training to be an inspiration for his work at the statewide level, as well as an opportunity to connect with local advocates from across the state.
“The training provided a much needed opportunity for me to connect with local advocates throughout Georgia,” said Brent. “Their exciting campaigns have definitely renewed my dedication to this work at the state level.”
Tags: winning campaigns training, savannah bicycle campaign, georgia bikes, georgia, bike athens, atlanta bicycle coalition
Thanks to New Complete Streets Policy, Georgia Bikes! Wins Bike Lanes on Bridge
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 05, 2013
We’ve heard from Georgia a lot recently. Last year, advocates successfully spearheaded a campaign for a statewide Complete Streets policy, leading to big sweeps for Georgia Bikes! and the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition at the Alliance’s annual Advocacy Awards. Then, just last week, hundreds of Georgians pedaled to the state capitol in Atlanta to encourage agency staff to implement the new statewide Complete Streets policy.
Their work is clearly paying off. This week, Georgia Bikes! received confirmation that a new bridge in the northern Atlanta suburbs will include bike lanes in both directions.
Joe Seconder, a board member at Georgia Bikes!, led a grassroots campaign to push for the bicycle accomodation. Here’s how the campaign played out, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
When Seconder discovered early this year that dedicated bike lanes were not in the design plans, he got busy, phoning friends and transportation contacts.
‘This bridge is the single point of access between Perimeter CID, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs to cross the Chattahoochee River into Roswell,’ he said.
GDOT invited Seconder, his supporters and Sandy Springs officials to a followup meeting March 29 where it presented a redesign that included two bike lanes without changing the width of the bridge.
‘I’ll give him a lot of credit, but I have to give GDOT a lot of credit, too,’ said Roswell Mayor Jere Wood, an active cyclist who backed Seconder’s campaign. ‘They have a whole new attitude down there.’
The agency officially adopted a Complete Streets policy last fall, requiring that it routinely incorporate bicycle, pedestrian and transit concerns into transportation projects. The Northridge Bridge project was finalized well before that policy took effect.
Georgia DOT engineer Darryl D. VanMeter said budget and time constraints would have normally precluded a late change in plans. However, the department had a productive exchange with bike advocates and Sandy Springs officials which led to the accommodation, he said.
It’s not too often that you see news stories about government listening to — and then acting on — citizens’ requests. Yet the new bike lanes are being hailed by one city manager as “a great example of government listening.”
There’s no sign that advocates in the Peach State will be slowing down any time soon. At it so happens, Alliance staff are in Athens, Georgia this weekend to lead a Winning Campaigns Training for advocates from throughout the area:
We’re looking forward to see the campaign plans that result from this weekend’s strategizing. Keep it going, Georgia!
The 5 Best Biking and Walking April Fool’s Day Pranks
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 02, 2013
Transportation is serious work, but advocates still know how to have a little fun.
For April Fool’s Day yesterday, several biking and walking writers and advocates pulled online pranks. Here are our five favorite biking and walking related pranks from yesterday — and one from a past year that was just too good not to mention.
#5: LaHood’s Last Hurrah: a Bikeway Binge
Planning blog Planetizen has a strong tradition of fabricating wonky transportation stories on April first. This year, the blog announced that in his last days in office, Transportation Secretary LaHood would go on a spending spree to finance bus rapid transit lines, separated bikeways, and streetcar systems.
“In just the past month, LaHood has issued federal grants for more than $1.5 billion in public transit, pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure projects – perhaps the largest short-term outpouring of federal transportation dollars in history,” the blog stated. “Since no replacement [secretary] has been chosen, LaHood has embraced his tentative hold on power by opening up the DOT’s checkbook.”
“LaHood was ebullient at a recent meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, handing out federal transportation grants like it was an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show. ‘You get a streetcar! And you get a streetcar! And you get a streetcar!’ he told the assembled mayors, each giddy at the prospect of previously unattainable grants.” (Link)
#4: Tackling Driver Safety with Helmets
In a coy nod to recent Maryland controversy about a statewide helmet law, DC-area blog Greater Greater Washington broke an odd story: a Maryland state delegate planned to announce new legislation requiring all adult drivers to wear helmets.
“In the past month alone, pedestrians walked into cars in Columbia, White Marsh, and Bowie, causing indecipherable damage to vehicles and making their drivers slightly late for work,” wrote blogger Anita Park. “While driving activists are split on the issue, area pedestrians say it’s about time drivers took responsibility for themselves.”
The article went so far as to quote a phony advocacy organization, the Washington Area Drivers Association. (Link)
#3: Fundraising Rides Boost Lance Armstrong’s Strava, Too
Meanwhile, Florida advocates played off recent controversy surrounding the United States’ most infamous bicyclist. In a blog post and on Facebook yesterday, Alliance member organization Capital City Cyclists announced that Lance Armstrong would be participating in the organization’s annual Tour of Southern Rural Vistas ride.
“Since being banned from racing over a year ago,” the blog said, “Armstrong has gone on tour to participate in as many charity rides as possible to show folks that he is the best cyclist ever.”
The post then quoted Armstrong as saying, “There are Strava segments and KOMS everywhere, and someone has to be #1. Doing all these organized rides are a great way to knock out a lot of strava segments.” (Link)
#2: Wishful Thinking
For a Toronto advocate, April Fool’s was a chance to imagine a dream come true. Yesterday, CycleTO blogged about a new $500 million bike lane network for the city.
“Toronto city council will spend $500 million over the next two years building a network of separated bike lanes that will criss-cross the city,” they wrote, “connecting the disjointed parts of the city’s existing cycling network. The major construction project, which has been percolating in secret for over a year, will include free tire pumping stations and a number of parking corrals at busy downtown locations.”
How would the city finance the new projects? Advertisements, of course.
“The cost of the gigantic infrastructure project will be funded in part by the province and an untried sponsorship scheme,” the blogger wrote. “For a fee, companies will be allowed to print adverts or public messages on the road surface. It’s thought gaming corporations interested in opening a Toronto casino and other groups wanting to drive home their corporate message will be first to buy space. Naming rights on the city cycling map are also up for grabs.”
#1: OK Cupid Meets Community Bike Shops
Perhaps the most labor-intensive prank came from The Bike House, a bike repair collective based in Washington, DC and a new member of the Alliance for 2013. Volunteers from the collective created Coop Cupid, a faux online dating site that appeared to connect singles with volunteers from local bike co-ops.
When duped visitors entered their email addresses, a pop-up window appears with a link to sign up for the next repair clinic. (Link)
Honorable Mention: Goodbye Bicycles, Hello Catapults
This prank from an April Fool’s past is too good not to mention. In 2010, advocates at MassBike announced that the Alliance member organization would ditch bicycle advocacy in favor of advocating for a more ancient mode of transportation.
“While bikes are still cool (we guess), we have found an entirely new and amazing way to get around,” wrote staff member Shane.
The exciting new mode? The Trebuchet, a medieval catapult that never quite earned endorsement from a department of transportation.
“We have already set one up at our office and have gotten pretty good at hitting the inflated Trebuchet landing sites around downtown Boston (T-Stops for short),” boasted Shane. “Don’t worry, we used interns for most of the dialing-in process.”
To seal in the organizational shift, the announcement confirmed that MassBike would change its name to MassTrebuchet and included a hyper-realistic picture of Executive Director David Watson at a Trebuchet ribbon-cutting.
Did we miss a prank? Point out your favorites in the comments!
Tags: the bike house, planetizen, massbike, greater greater washington, capital city cyclists, april fools
TrafficCOM Seeks Funding To Democratize Traffic Counts
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 02, 2013
Data on car and bicycle counts can be notoriously difficult to obtain. Sometimes the data don’t exist at all, and it can be a costly, uphill battle to encourage public agencies to spend the necessary dollars to install traffic counters. Even when traffic counts have been performed on a given street, the resulting data are often tightly controlled by private groups or public agencies.
Enter TrafficCOM, a nifty low-cost traffic counter that has the potential to democratize traffic counting for more transparent planning on neighborhood streets. The system itself is both hardware and a software platform — the hardy portable counter looks like something born in a space age lego factory, and it easily plugs into a USB port to feed its findings into an open database and map of traffic counts.
TrafficCOM isn’t in production yet — its inventors have launched a Kickstarter campaign to distribute beta versions. Start-up funding will help the inventors finance beta versions of the device to meet demands from departments of transportation and advocates.
Aurash, one of TrafficCom’s creators, recently visited the Alliance office to show us a prototype. The visit got me thinking about how helpful a low-cost traffic measuring device could be for biking and walking advocacy organizations. A simple $200 portable device for measuring traffic and speed could make it much easier for advocates and community leaders to make data-based arguments about street safety. Imagine being able to easily measure average car speed on a particularly problematic street, or being able to quantify just how popular a new bike lane is. Plus, the system’s corresponding online database provides benchmarks for comparison in other communities.
While the system does have early kinks and drawbacks — for example, the counter can count car or bicycle traffic, but can’t differentiate between the two in a mixed lane — it’s a promising development for anyone who believes that transportation planning should be a more open, evidence-based process.
If this sounds like a worthy project, we at the Alliance encourage you to support TrafficCOM’s Kickstarter campaign.
U.S. Surgeon General Encourages Walking for Public Health
By Mary Lauran Hall on April 01, 2013
To kick off National Public Health Week, U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is encouraging everybody to walk.
“My goal as Surgeon General is to have us become a more healthy and fit nation,” said the Surgeon General in her video announcement. “As part of national Public Health week, I’d like to announce the start of my new ‘Every Body Walk’ campaign. It’s a simple form of physical activity and it has enormous health benefits. You don’t need any special equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere.”
The Alliance is collaborating with America Walks and other national partners to promote the Surgeon General’s Every Body Walk! campaign. This announcement comes on the heels of the campaign’s new Walking Revolution report that spotlights the role of walking in public health.
Health experts agree that adults should engage in 30 minutes of physical activity each day to prevent common disease and maximize everyday health — and walking can be a great way to meet those recommendations. Public officials, researchers and practitioners in public health increasingly recognize the crucial role of transportation infrastructure in encouraging healthy lifestyles.
Too often, a lack of safe and accessible sidewalks, crosswalks, trails and bike lanes prevents people from walking or biking for transportation. Without built environments that encourage active transportation choices, people are much less likely to engage in everyday physical activity. Advocates and neighbors can work together to improve street safety and accessibility to bring public health back into everyday transportation.
The American Public Health Association recommends the following strategies to encourage public health in everyday life:
Here’s to Surgeon General Benjamin’s recommendation: “Let’s all celebrate national Public Health Week by taking a walk!”
Update 12:00 PM 4/4/13: America Walks has set up a “take action” page where you can support the Surgeon General’s call to action. Click here to participate.
Tags: regina benjamin, national public health week, every body walk, american public health association
Georgia Mayors & Advocates Flood State Capitol for Complete Streets
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 28, 2013
Despite unseasonably chilly weather and a few southern flurries, the 8th annual Georgia Rides to the Capitol drew local officials and citizen cyclists from the metro Atlanta area to rally for implementation of the state’s new Complete Streets policy.
Over 20 elected officials — including local mayors, commissioners and councilmembers — led advocates from communities near and far. A contingent rode from Decatur, an inner suburb about 6 miles east of downtown. Another dedicated group pedaled from Roswell, an outer-ring suburb located 25 miles north of the state capital. Decatur recently earned a bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community designation, and Roswell had the honor of becoming Georgia’s first Bicycle Friendly Community in 2006.
The “ask:” complete our streets
Once at the state capitol, riders and local officials rallied to encourage the state government to implement the Georgia DOT’s new Complete Streets policy — a policy with roots in last year’s ride.
Brent Buice, Executive Director of Georgia Bikes!, recounted the policy’s legendary roots.
“In 2012, we got the crowd chanting ‘COMPLETE THE STREETS!’” he explained. “One of the attendees was the chief engineer of the state DOT, and after the rally he approached me and said ‘I’m disappointed that you were chanting that, because we already have a Complete Streets policy.’
Brent and his colleagues disagreed with the DOT leader. “We said, ‘No, you don’t,’ and he said ‘Yeah, we do,’ and we said ‘No, you don’t,’” Brent recalled with amusement.
The interaction prompted Georgia Bikes! to collaborate with Georgia DOT to craft and adopt a new comprehensive Complete Streets policy. The successful effort earned Georgia Bikes! the Alliance’s 2013 Advocacy Award for best winning campaign.
This year, advocates returned to thank the Georgia DOT for the new policy and encourage decision-makers to implement it.
“During the rally at the capitol, we had the crowd turn in the direction of the Georgia Department of Transportation office and chant all at once ‘THANKS, GDOT!’” Brent explained.
“The new chief engineer came up to me afterwards and said it was one of the most memorable experiences he’d ever had,” said Brent. “I can’t think of another time that a huge assemblage of citizens has yelled ‘THANK YOU!’ to the state DOT. We wanted to show them a lot of love.”
Now, advocates hope that state decision-makers will follow up. “We asked for commitment from the highest levels to make it happen,” Brent said.
In its lobby efforts with the agency, Georgia Bikes! echoes the asks modeled by America Bikes and Advocacy Advance. “We’re asking state officials to spend up the money we have left from, not to opt out of Transportation Alternatives, and prioritize biking and walking improvements for Transportation Alternatives,” Brent said.
A model in collaboration
The Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association and the Georgia Municipal Association originally organized the annual Ride on the Capitol to demonstrate support for a regional network of bicycle infrastructure. As the ride has grown over the years, the advocacy event has become a model for cooperation between organizations and groups of public officials.
“The Metro Atlanta Mayor’s Association and the Georgia Municipal Association provide logistical support like the police escorts,” explained Brent. “Georgia Bikes! has a role in promoting the ride, and we give focus in terms of the advocacy asks that we’re bringing to the rally.”
This video from an event volunteer shows advocates rolling up to the state capitol, led by police escorts. Public official associations organized the police escorts for the ride.
“We also get a lot of help from Bike MS — they provide free refreshments and snacks at the Capitol steps and mobile bike parking. Local Alliance member organization Atlanta Bicycle Coalition provided all of the on-site volunteers and did a lot of promotion.”
The two associations designated Georgia Bikes! as the ride’s official beneficiary several years ago. “It’s free to participate, but we do raise a few thousand dollars off the event, which helps funds our lobbying efforts,” Brent said.
Next up: local and statewide
In future years, Georgia Bikes! hopes to organize simultaneous actions throughout the state.
“Because the ride is metro Atlanta focused and it has to happen on a weekday, it’s tough to get people from communities outside the area to participate,” Brent explained. “Next time, we’re hoping to have rides to City Halls in the evenings in other communities in Georgia.”
Brent added that this year, advocates in Griffin modeled a successful smaller community ride. Citizens pedaled to City Hall in the evening, and local officials marked the occasion by passing a resolution to recognize the importance of being bike friendly.
A staff member from Representative Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3) also attended the Griffin event — the first recorded successful follow-up to this year’s National Bike Summit. (At the Summit, advocates asked their elected officials to attend a bike-related event in their home district.)
“Next year, we’d love to have rides to city hall happening in Colombus, Macon, Savannah, Rome,” said Brent. “We could make it a truly statewide event.”
Photos courtesty Georgia Bikes / Facebook
Tags: metro atlanta mayors association, georgia rides to the capitol, georgia municipal association, georgia bikes, atlanta bicycle coalition, atlanta
BikeTexas Releases State-Specific Benchmarking Report
By Mary Lauran Hall on March 27, 2013
A new BikeTexas report modeled after the Alliance for Biking & Walking’s national Benchmarking report sets baselines for walking and biking policies, infrastructure and programs in the Lone Star State’s largest cities.
While the Alliance report examines biking and walking in the 51 most populous cities in the United States, the Texas study examines the 35 cities in Texas with a population of 90,000 or more.
“In the original national study, 7 Texas cities were included,” explained Robin Stallings, Executive Director of BikeTexas. “We wanted more cities in Texas to be able to compare amongst themselves.”
Robin and his colleagues have found that cities tend to think in terms of competitive pairings within the state. “A city like Amarillo is very interested in Lovett, but is not that interested in Austin,” he reported. “In Tyler, there’s a lot more interest in Longview’s progress than Dallas’ progress.”
BikeTexas advocates hope that finding benchmarks for each city will help encourage competition for progress on active transportation.
Much like the Alliance Benchmarking Report, the Bike Texas Benchmark Study examines and ranks cities according to key data points and policy features. Metrics include walk and bike modeshare, safety data, city policies that affect bikers and walkers, funding amounts, walking and biking infrastructure and planning, education and encouragement programs, advocacy organizations and community bike shops, and public health statistics.
To design the survey, BikeTexas compiled questions from the Alliance for Biking & Walking Benchmarking survey and the League of America Bicyclists’ Bicycle Friendly Community survey.
“We’d had some feedback that there was a lot of overlap between the Alliance and League surveys,” Robin noted. “So we included 100% of the questions from each, eliminated duplication, added a few new questions, found the answers already in the public domain, and then gave the rest to the cities. This eliminated unnecessary work for the cities.”
“Both the Alliance and the League bent over backwards to provide us with their questions and tips on collection,” recalled Robin. “We couldn’t have asked for more. The BikeTexas report is an homage to both organizations and the good work that they do. We couldn’t have done this starting from scratch.”
The survey had the added benefit of educating city officials unfamiliar with bicycle and pedestrian planning terms.
“We included a glossary in our online survey so that anybody who was answering could look up the definition of a protected bikeway or sharrow,” Robin said. “Now we have a lot more decision-makers who know what a cycletrack is.”
Robin says that the organization was careful to produce a report worthy of a serious transportation researcher. Data collection for the project was led by a transportation engineer with oversight from an MPH reviewer. Next time, BikeTexas may enlist the help of a PhD principal investigator.
BikeTexas financed the report with internal funds. In an exciting show of support, the Texas Department of Transportation agreed to print 3500 copies of the report for free.
BikeTexas has distributed copies to city officials around the state, to members of the Texas legislature, and to staffed state biking and walking advocacy organizations. The report is not yet available online.
So far, responses to the printed report have been encouraging.
“One city engineer called us and requested 15 more copies,” Robin said. “The state DOT is distributing 500 copies within the agency. All of the bike/ped coordinators, all the traffic safety people, and all the district engineers will get a copy.”
Going forward, BikeTexas advocates hope to find funding for future reports with updated questions and data from smaller cities. Robin and his colleagues also hope that fellow state advocacy groups will emulate the Texas report.
“We think of this report as the beginning of a dialogue,” said Robin.
Tulsa Advocates: Fix OUR Streets!
By Brighid O'Keane on March 26, 2013
Cross-posted from the Advocacy Advance blog
At 197 square miles, the city of Tulsa is larger than San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C. and Miami combined. There are enough lane miles of streets in the city to stretch from New York to Los Angles and back to Tulsa — with 500 miles to spare. An improvement to Tulsa’s streets would significantly transform the region.
The City of Tulsa has been rebuilding its streets under a capital improvements program called “Fix Our Streets” since 2008, but rebuilding them the way they were over forty years ago before they deteriorated so badly, without adding bike lanes or any other accommodations.
Fix Our Streets is coming up for a 5-year renewal this year, and local advocates are working hard to make sure that the proposed $800 million in road improvements include high-quality facilities for bicyclists and pedestrians.
“We need to put the pressure on and show that many every-day people want this for our city,” says Stephen Lassiter, a member of the Tulsa Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). “We can’t afford to have five more years of streets projects that do not include bicycle or pedestrian infrastructure.”
The Advocacy Advance team was recently in Tulsa to facilitate a Navigating MAP-21 Workshop for over 80 agency staff, advocates and elected officials to learn how to fund bicycle and pedestrian projects in the Tulsa region with federal dollars in the new bill. Most importantly, workshop participants expressed that prioritizing these investments are essential for the economic and social development of Tulsa – a sentiment shared by elected officials.
“I’m an advocate for the types of things you’re doing to hear about today because I believe wholeheartedly that nothing is more important to the future of a city than how it develops its personality,” said keynote speaker, Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing. “If it’s a place that people can walk around, that they can interact with buildings on the street, if you can ride your bike to work, those things are unique, that’s the unique experience of the core and the heart of a community.”
“And so, as we decide what kind of city we want to be, what kind of policies we want to make, what kind of investments we want to make in our infrastructure, my suggestion today is going to be that this is the most critical decision your city can make….And active decisions say, ‘How we do this matters for life.’ Because this next generation of first-time homebuyers, this next generation of our spenders…They want the excitement. They want the personality. And they’re choosing where they live based upon those offerings.”
Advocacy Advance preceded the workshop with a modified Winning Campaigns Training for advocates to flesh out their Fix Our Streets Campaign. At a recent presentation from agency staff, $7.5 million was listed under citywide matching funds for biking and walking. In a typical 20% match scenario (20% city funds, 80% federal), these funds could be leveraged to get an additional $30 million from the feds for a total of $37.5 million over the 5 years of the program.
At first glance, this sounds great. But in further conversations, advocates have been told that the citywide matching funds are for any project, not just bike/ped, and they are crafting a campaign to point out this discrepancy.
What can the city get for this price tag? For $30 million, Tulsa can widen one mile of Yale Street.
Build 100 miles of sidewalk, stripe 600 miles of bike lanes, fund 300 miles of protected bike lanes, 20 miles of high-end NYC-style cycle track, 120 miles of bicycle boulevard/neighborhood greenway, or 30 miles of multi-use trails.
With public meetings starting the week after the workshop, advocates crafted their campaign pitch, set goals, identified the key decision makers, and set next steps for their campaign. Advocates will pack the house at upcoming public meetings and call out the $7.5 million that have been listed as matching funds under the bike/ped heading. They will also ensure that the city implements the Complete Streets Resolution passed by the City Council last year and creates a bicycle master plan to identify prioritized projects before the Fix Our Streets funding package is up for a vote.
“We have a city council that mostly seems open minded to doing bike/ped projects…(but) without a master plan, we may be missing an opportunity to get bike/ped accommodations at the most cost-effective time, when many of our streets are being refurbished,” says Stephen Lassiter of Bike-Walk Tulsa. “Tulsa needs this badly. We are on the cusp of really being able to do some great things.”
Photos from Tulsa Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Transportationnation.org; Funding slide from City of Tulsa Capital Improvement Program Task Force Meeting 1/31/13
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
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