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On the Road with the League
As the national voice for America's bicyclists, the League is based in Washington, D.C., but our staff is constantly on the road to make biking better in your community. We attend conferences and Summit from coast to coast to share our knowledge, listen and learn. We present workshops on how to get funding for bike projects, visit leaders to advance our Bicycle Friendly Community program — and much more.
So how have we been serving you — and where will we be next? Here's this week's recap and a look ahead...
League President Andy Clarke is in New York City today for the International Downtown Association's World Congress, where he's part of a workshop on "Using Bicycle-Friendly Business Districts as Marketing Tools."
A few staff members, including Legal Specliast Ken McCleod, attended the inagural National Walking Summit in Washington, D.C. Despite some challenges due to the government shutdown, Ken reported back on the tremendous opportunity to team up with walking advocates.
- There are amazing health benefits to walking: 150 minutes of exercise per week has a huge effect on health outcomes and greatly increases the functional capacity of our aging population. The bicycling community clearly shares a lot of the same goals, allies, and challenges with the walking community; we need to learn how to be mutually supportive.
- Ray Thomas (a member of our Legal Affairs Committee) shared a compilation of pedestrian laws for each state matched to Uniform Vehicle Code provisions. With this resource walking advocates can assess what legal changes might be useful so pedestrians can be legally empowered to walk and can get justice if they are injured. It’s a great first step to understanding how pedestrians, like cyclists, have been legally marginalized to give preferences to motor vehicles.
- Chad Spoon of Active Living Research shared great information about the health impacts of active transportation and extended a hand to the advocacy community as his organization shifts its emphasis from funding research to making it actionable and advocacy-ready.
- Vanessa Garrison of GirlTrek was a great co-host of the event and GirlTrek is a great organization that supports black women and girls. Drawing upon the history of walking in the civil rights movement, from bus boycotts to marches on Washington, GirlTrek has a powerful message and a powerful tool to increase the health of many woman and girls.
Bill Nesper, League Vice President of Programs, and Alison Dewey, Program Manager for the Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University program, traveled to Minnesota for the Pedal Minnesota Bicycle Summit. Bill talked about the League's equity efforts and Alison gave the keynote address on creating Bicycle Friendly Communities. (Read her slides here.)
- The conference attendees heard from representatives from Brainerd, Minn., a struggling town in central Minnesota. They spoke of their inspiring and motivating story of pinning their revival on becoming a destination as a bikeable and walkable community. In the last few years, Brainerd has seen a 20 percent decrease in household income, compared to the state, and it's last hotel closed in recent months. But leaders have worked to rebuild the public face of Brainerd, and have applied to our Bicycle Friendly Community program. We were inspired to see Brainerd recognizing and reaping the immense benefits of bicycling.
Later on in the week, Andy, Policy Director Darren Flusche and Education Director Alissa Simcox attended the New England Bike-Walk Summit in Providence, R.I. Andy gave the keynote address at the 200-person conference, put on by East Coast Greenway.
- Andy gave the morning keynote address, “Bike Advocacy is Growing Up,” laying out a strategy for broadening the movement and selling bicycling on why it’s good for communities and not just “bicyclists.” During the day New Englanders presented on everything from economic impacts (moderated by League Board member John Siemiatkoski), to bicycling at universities, to car-light living, to connecting athletes and advocacy. I brought in Andy to substitute for my normal Advocacy Advance partner, Brighid O’Keane, who couldn’t make it. Andy and I presented on how to fund bicycling infrastructure and programs to an energetic room of folks who asked a lot of really good questions.