National Bike Month: Meet the League of American Bicyclists

May is National Bike Month, a celebration of all things cycling, so it seemed like the perfect time to chat with our great cycling advocacy partners who work hard to make riding bikes better. Every week this month we will introduce you to a different group that is making a difference here in the US. First up is Andy Clarke, President of the League of American Bicyclists.

League of American Bicyclists Logo

What’s the goal of your organization?

The mission of the League is to lead the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. We believe that bicycling brings people together, and that as more people ride life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; and our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent. We want everyone to enjoy the benefits and opportunities of bicycling. I’ve been with the organization for more than ten years, and I feel like our mission is more relevant and valuable now than ever. ( I can’t speak for the entire time since we were founded in 1880!)

League of American Bicyclists in DC

Advocating for cycling on the steps of the US Capitol

What projects are you working on currently?

Today, we aim to achieve those goals through advocacy, education, and promotion. We have a national advocacy presence in Washington DC where we work with Congress and the Federal agencies to ensure funding, policies and programs are in place to build a more bicycle-friendly America. We run the Bicycle Friendly Community (and Business, University and States) program that recognizes cities for their work but more importantly provides a roadmap or blueprint for becoming much more bike-friendly. On the education side, we run the only national certification program (with curricula and materials) for bike education experts — we currently have around 2,000 active League Cycling Instructors sharing their passion and knowledge for safe cycling with anyone that will listen!

National Bike Challenge

Events like National Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, and the National Bike Challenge fall into the promotion category along with the extraordinary volume and variety of rides that our 900+ affiliated local clubs and advocacy groups put on year-round. The National Bike Challenge has to be the most inspiring way of getting more people riding. Every year we are blown away by the stories of lives transformed by participation in the Challenge. We love it and hope you are signed up and part of the Challenge. And as if that weren’t enough, we are also actively engaged in promoting greater participation by women in bicycling, the bike movement, and the bike industry.

May is Bike Month

What actions can I take locally to make the experience of cycling better in my community?

In each of those areas, there are ways for individual cyclists and local organizations to plug in and take action. You can sign up for action alerts — both national and local “calls to action” when we need the voice of cyclists to be heard — or attend the National Bike Summit each March to be part of the advocacy team. We have scorecards you can use to do a quick analysis of your community or business to determine how bike-friendly they are; every BFC  and BFB application generates specific feedback — we encourage you to join your local advocacy group to get plugged in there. If you can’t stop talking about bikes and bike riding and safety…maybe you need to share that passion with others by becoming an instructor. If you aren’t quite ready for that, the classes those LCIs teach are full of great advice whatever your level of experience.

Having said all that, there are TWO really simple things you can do to make your community more bike friendly. Number one: ride your bike. Number two, write to your Mayor, County Executive or Council member and tell them you care about bicycling and want bicycling to be better. Throw in a couple of specific examples of improvements, and you are on the way!

League of American Bicyclists Guest Post: National Bike Month

It’s National Bike to Work Week, so we’re turning our blog over to our friends from the the League of American Bicyclists, the driving force behind National Bike Month.  Read on below to find out more about what they’re doing to build a Bicycle Friendly America, and also find out what communities have been recognized as Bicycle Friendly Communities this year.

Whether you’re a daily bike commuter or just curious about the benefits of bicycling, May is your time to shine.

For the past 50 years, the League of American Bicyclists has hosted and organized National Bike Month to celebrate cycling and encourage new and longtime riders to get back in the saddle. For decades, we’ve designated and promoted Bike to Work Week — this week! — and Bike to Work Day, and the number of bicycle commuters has continued to rise.

How are you celebrating Bike Month this year? Check our website or contact your local advocacy organization to find an event in your area! And, no matter how you’re celebrating, don’t forget to sign up for the National Bike Challenge, a new friendly competition that kicked off May 1, aiming to unite 50,000 Americans to ride 10 million miles this summer!

But, while we’re all fired up about Bike Month, that’s just the beginning of the League’s efforts to make bicycling safe, accessible and enjoyable for all.  All year long, we’re working to protect your rights and make your ride better, wherever you’re going.

Just this morning, for instance, we announced the largest round of Bicycle Friendly Communities (BFC) in the program’s history. By evaluating and recognizing investment in bicycling promotion, education programs, infrastructure and pro-bicycling policies, the BFC program is revolutionizing the way communities evaluate their quality of life. With this impressive round, there are now 214 BFCs in 47 states — and the program works. While bike commuting rose 40 percent nationwide between 2000 and 2010, it jumped a staggering 77 percent in the largest BFCs.

The BFA program goes beyond cities and counties, too. The League also provides guidance and technical support through our Bicycle Friendly Business and Bicycle Friendly University programs, making workplaces and higher education more accommodating and accessible for cyclists. And we work with states, too: On May 22, we’ll release our latest Bicycle Friendly State Rankings, which showcases progress in areas like infrastructure, policies and education.

Beyond the Bicycle Friendly America program, we work with League members and organizations across the country to deliver our Smart Cycling education courses. From the basics of Traffic Skills 101 to targeted training, like Group Riding, the League curricula remains the gold standard for bicycle safety and skills for riders of all ages.

Based in Washington, D.C., the League is also your advocate on Capitol Hill. Each year, we convene the National Bike Summit, drawing hundreds of advocates, enthusiasts, retailers and policymakers to learn about federal transportation issues and lobby their members of Congress for funding and policies that meet the needs and rights of the growing number of bicyclists nationwide. This year we had a record crowd of more than 800 attendees. Mark your calendar now for the 2013 Summit, so you can tell your members of Congress that Bicycling Means Business.

And, of course, the League is committed to building the movement by connecting you to clubs and rides in your community, and sharing stories and innovations on our daily blog. Join the conversation by subscribing to our blog, becoming a fan on Facebook or following us on Twitter. We welcome your energy and ideas — with your help we’ll build a Bicycle Friendly America where every month is National Bike Month!

The League of American Bicyclists promotes bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation, and works through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America. The League represents the interests of America’s 57 million bicyclists, including its 300,000 members and affiliates. For more information or to support the League, visit www.bikeleague.org.

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