Emotions are running high these days.
Amidst all the chaos, I’ve been tempted to wonder—where does bicycle advocacy belong? I ride my bike as transportation almost every day, so I’ve had the time and space to thoroughly consider this point. And I tell you—people who ride, bicycle advocacy has everything to do with building the Beloved Community we all need.
People who ride, advocating for ethical engineering
What was the most photographed slide by the sold-out crowd of engineers and other transportation professionals atODOT's Active Transportation Engineer’s Forum earlier this week? Remarkably, the one reading:
Vision Zero takes the position that it is unethical to create a situation where fatalities are a likely outcome of a crash in order to reduce delay, fuel consumption, or other societal objectives. It is unethical to prioritize the mobility of one person over the safety of another person.”
The goal of transportation engineers is shifting dramatically, from an emphasis of moving cars to an emphasis of moving people. The future is ours, but we have to show up to claim it. As with any change, many may be on board, but some are not. Federal guidelines for bike and pedestrian infrastructure still do not adequately support engineers ready to implement it. And leadership change begets priorities change. We must continue demanding accommodations for those who ride, or inertia will stall our progress and engineers’ best intentions to facilitate it.
People who ride, advocating for sanity
As a seasoned activist, I am cheered to note that most of the survival guides out there highlight self care as a critical element of our effectiveness. To settle in for the long haul, we must make time to unplug, be silent, recharge. I’ve noticed when I ride to my destination I am able to recharge en route and arrive fresh and clear-headed. When I ride with friends, my faith in humanity is restored. Bicycling beats burnout.
People who ride, advocating for transportation options & intersectionality
All people deserve to have viable transportation options that allow us to successfully navigate our lives. And while many of us have the choice to ride or drive, others among us do not. During the 10 years in which I first became a transportation bicyclist it was out of economic necessity. When conversations about affordable housing, safety, education, sustainability, economic development and equity omit transportation, it's a missed opportunity. It's on us to communicate to potential partners how bicycling is a solution to many of the concerns we share.
People who ride, advocating for an expanded notion of safe streets
"It's Trump time, nigger!” A man yelled this out a truck window to a friend of mine as he was riding his bicycle to work. "Mooooo!" A group of men called out to another friend as her large body pedaled down the street. Yes—in Columbus. Our movement, which has focused on achieving infrastructure that promotes safety, needs to become more attuned to the culture in which people have to ride. Let us now understand that not everyone who rides has the same experience of their ride, regardless of the infrastructure available—some of us, due to our sex, body shape or skin color, assume more risk than others. Our community must rally around to forcefully denounce these threats.
People who ride, banding together
It’s time to advocate. Are you battle ready? I am. Let's join together.