National Bike Month: Meet The Alliance For Biking & Walking

 

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As National Bike Month winds down, we bring you the last of our Advocacy Interviews. We had a chance to catch up with the folks from the Alliance For Biking & Walking– an advocacy group that strives to improve our communities by helping to recraft them into more livable spaces.

By lobbying local, state and Federal government organizations, collecting data for governments and groups to use, and helping to found grassroots organizations all over the country, the Alliance has done a lot to help riders and walkers everywhere.

Read on to find out more.

1. What’s the goal of your organization?

Communities are better places when it’s comfortable and safe to get around by bike. And the people who affect change for better biking are the grassroots advocates who make sure that bicyclists’ interests are represented in state and local government. We give advocates tools to win campaigns that transform communities into great places to bike and walk.

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The Alliance for Biking & Walking believes that communities are better places to live when it’s easier to get around

2. What projects are you working on currently?

We’re currently organizing a training for city-based advocacy groups who want to build protected bike lane networks in their cities. Advocates are increasingly in positions to push their cities to build awesome protected bike lanes so that everybody can feel comfortable biking around town. We’re going to train about 25 advocates on how to launch campaigns similar to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s Connecting the City initiative, which was a total game-changer for SF.

We’re also organizing our biennial Leadership Retreat, a big pow wow for state and local biking and walking advocates. It’s the homecoming ball of bike/ped advocacy.

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Events large and small are important for increasing visibility for biking

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

Get involved at the local level through being a member, volunteering, donating, and encouraging others to get involved. Local advocates are the folks who are responsible for getting bike lanes on the ground, passing pro-bike legislation, and building bike share systems.

If there isn’t yet a bike advocacy group in your area, consider starting one. Contact us at the Alliance for Biking & Walking for tips and coaching.

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If you’re not involved in a local advocacy organization, consider joining one to help improve cycling infrastructure in your city

4. What are you doing to get more people on bikes?

The Alliance is uniting, supporting, and funding the people who teach local biking classes, start Safe Routes to School programs, make bike maps, lobby your government to make biking better, and tons of other pro-bike stuff.

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Networks of “green lanes” are a major project for the Alliance for Biking and Walking

5. How can your message resonate with non-bike riders?

More and more people are recognizing that better biking isn’t just about better biking – it’s also about building the types of places where people want to live and work and shop.

 

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.

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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!

Bike to Work Day: Portraits from our Home Office

We love to ride, so we’re pretty serious about National Bike to Work Day. Check out the collage below for just a few of the folks who pedaled in to work today at our home office here in North Carolina!

Gaynor’s Bike To Work Week Wisdom

Our Head Spin Doctor (and all-around motivator) Gaynor has been busy reminding, encouraging and cajoling everyone here at our home office to participate in National Bike to Work Week, and especially on National Bike to Work Day (Friday, May 18th). His big goal is fulfilling our “Empty Parking Lot Challenge” on Friday – an ambitious target, but we’re certainly going to give it a try! Since Gaynor is so effective at rallying the bike commuting efforts here at our home office, we thought we’d share some of the bike to work wisdom he’s used to motivate us. Hopefully you can use some of Gaynor’s wise counsel to encourage friends or coworkers to give bike commuting a try!

Reason #1: According to the Mayo Clinic, “Exercise increases your overall health and your sense of well-being, which puts more pep in your step every day. But exercise also has some direct stress-busting benefits.”

Most of us know this but how do we find the time to exercise? It’s easy – commute by bike! By cycling to work, you are scheduling 2 exercise periods each day you ride. The ride in provides a quiet time to plan your day before the confusing onslaught of details and demands. The ride home gives you time to reflect, decompress and let the tension go. You’ll be healthier, happier and more productive.

But don’t trust me! Here again from the Mayo Clinic: “Physical activity helps to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins. Although this function is often referred to as a runner’s high, a rousing game of tennis or a nature hike [or a bike ride] can contribute to this same feeling.

Reason #2: Biking to work saves bucks. The average American commutes 33 miles each day. The average American car gets 22 miles per gallon. Regular gas costs $3.85/gallon. Average Joe spends $29/week, $115/month and $1500/year for gas.

If you only live an easy 5 mile commute to work, you’ll still save $8.75/week (the cost a six pack of Bell’s Two Hearted Ale), $35/month and $455/year.

Reason #3: Add some adventure to your day. Shake up your routine, try something different, spice up your life. Why settle for the same-old, same-old? Become the hardy, intrepid person you really are.  Commute to work!

Reason #4: Show the doubters. Think of all the times that someone told you that you could not do it. That you were too old, too young; too big, too small; too dumb, too smart; too thin, too stout; too loud, too quiet; too brash, too timid. You’re a girl; you’re a boy! It’s too long, it’s too steep; it’s high, it’s too deep; it’s too fast. It’s too slow. Ride to work! Show ‘em you won’t be stopped!

Reason #5: Join a gang. By riding to work you are joining a select group of mostly well-adjusted, fun, happy and pleasant bike commuters.

Reason #6: Save the planet. Each year, the average passenger car on an average commute of 33 miles produces 77.1 lbs of hydrocarbons, 575 lbs of carbon monoxide, and 11,450 lbs of carbon dioxide. Aside from a little methane from too much roughage, commuting by bike produces zero pollution!

Reason #7: If you ride to work you won’t get pulled over for speeding. Ride a bike = no tickets. Drive a car = tickets.

Reason #8: Beer Pressure. Cycling dramatically improves the taste of beer, especially good beer. Ride for beer but drink responsibly.

Reason #9: Peer Pressure. Your coworkers and friends will be cycling to work. What’s your excuse when others less fit but spunkier are riding? Ride and have no excuses!

And finally…

Reason #10: Because it’s fun! When you commute by bike you have another reason to ride your bike, and what’s not to like about that?

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.

Rails to Trails Guest Post: National Bike Month

Throughout National Bike Month we are highlighting the efforts of some of our advocacy partners who are making a difference for cyclists throughout the US. Last week we turned our blog over to our friends from People for Bikes, and this week we’re letting the good folks at the Rails to Trails Conservancy lead the train. Read on below to find out what they’re doing to make cycling safer and more accessible, and how you can help.

I bet most of you have a good trail or bike path close by, right? Yeah, I do – the Capital Crescent Trail between Maryland and Washington, D.C. I ride it each day to work, and sometimes on the weekend to meet buddies in the city.

For those of us fortunate enough to have access to a trail, bike lanes or just some wide-open space, riding a bike to get around is a pretty simple, visceral pleasure. The wind in your face, the adrenaline pumping… you save time, save money and generally feel good about things. Simple.

But as basic as this joy seems to those of us who ride regularly, in many parts of America there are significant barriers to this simple activity. In a landscape often designed for cars to the exclusion of walking or biking, millions of Americans lack a safe and convenient place to ride at all, let alone a network of trails, bike lanes and paths that enable others to ride to work, to school, to visit friends or go shopping.

Riding the new Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard in Columbia, Mo.

That’s what drives us at Rails to Trails Conservancy. We have an ambitious target—referred to here in our office as the Big Hairy Audacious Goal—to put 90 percent of Americans within three miles of a trail system by 2020.

We are working toward that goal by helping communities develop rail-trail projects, by supporting trail-based business and residential development, by working hard on Capitol Hill and with state and local governments for policies and funding that recognize the importance of biking to our transportation system, and by building a movement of people who love their trails and want to spread that love!

Opening day of the Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard in Columbia, Mo.

National Bike Month this year is a particularly significant one for us, as it marks the release of a report on active transportation we have been eagerly anticipating. Launched by Congress in 2005—and with management support from RTC—the Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program (NTPP) dedicated $25 million to each of four communities to invest in biking and walking infrastructure. The idea was to see what this kind of unprecedented, targeted investment could do to change and grow a culture of biking and walking in these communities.

Essentially, it was an experiment into whether Americans were interested in non-motorized transportation – whether, to borrow loosely from a famous baseball movie about a guy in a cornfield, “If we build it, will they come?”

The results came in last week, and just three years into the pilot the change in transportation behavior tells a truly compelling story.

Across the four communities, counts revealed a 49 percent increase in biking. Compared to a national increase of 15 percent from 2001 to 2009, that spike is astounding. In just three years, the pilot communities achieved triple the expansion in biking activity the rest of America took eight years to realize.

Building the Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path to San Francisco in Marin County, Calif.

Although the pilot program did involve education and safety programs, a huge part of this increase was directly tied to infrastructure – physically providing safe, convenient and direct pathways that actually take people where they need to go.

In Columbia, Mo., the new Windsor/Ash bicycle boulevard completed in 2010 resulted in a 124 percent increase in bicycle traffic. In Marin County, Calif., the new Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path to San Francisco—constructed through a hillside and alongside active rail tracks—resulted in a 400 percent increase in weekday bicyclists. Nearby, the new Alameda Del Prado bicycle lanes increased weekday bicycle traffic by 366 percent and weekend bicycle traffic by 540 percent.

No question, if we build it, they will come. Big time.

Heading into the Cal Park-Hill Tunnel path in Marin County, Calif.

So what does this mean for you? Well, right now the U.S. Congress is debating whether to dedicate any transportation funding to biking and walking infrastructure, as part of a new federal transportation bill. Many of our Congressional representatives believe that money spent on enabling biking and walking is “frivolous,” and a waste of taxpayer dollars that should be spent exclusively on roads.

Rails to Trails Conservancy is doing everything we can to make sure our transportation system provides a better balance and gives people the healthier, cheaper, cleaner and greener option to bike and walk. If you have a moment, tell your representative that a car-only landscape isn’t the way you want to roll, and that being able to bike is an important part of your transportation future.

It’s a critical time – every voice and every vote counts.

Happy National Bike Month, everyone!

People for Bikes Guest Post: National Bike Month

Our friends at People for Bikes are always hard at work to improve the future of cycling and are big supporters of National Bike Month. They love events like Bike to Work Week (May 14-18), Bike to Work Day (May 18), and the first Bike to School Day (May 9). So we asked them to put together a few ideas that you could try to make National Bike Month a success in your community.

As many of you already know, May is National Bike Month. With longer, milder days, May is a perfect time to recognize bicycling for the multitude of benefits it provides – improving America’s health, economy, and environment. Here are four ways to make the most of this year’s National Bike Month:

1) Go for a type of bike ride that you normally wouldn’t: If you’re a road rider, try a mountain bike ride. If you’ve never ridden your bike to work, give bike commuting a shot.  If the ride to work isn’t something you can tackle, ride your bike to run an errand you would normally do by car, even if it’s just a trip to the coffee shop or ice cream parlor. Remember—forty percent of trips Americans take are two miles or less, an easy bicycling distance.

2) Sign up for the National Bike Challenge and ride with thousands of Americans from around the country.  This first of its kind challenge is being promoted by the Kimberly Clark Corporation, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists to encourage healthier lifestyles and will run from May through August.

3) Introduce one other person to bicycling. Whether it’s your partner, a coworker, a family member, or just a friend, help someone find a bike and go for a fun ride. Bicycling is a pretty amazing thing, right? Why not encourage someone else to discover the activity that brings you so much happiness.

4) Sign the PeopleforBikes.org pledge. PeopleForBikes.org is the movement dedicated to improving the future of bicycling. Already, half a million people have signed the pledge. It is free and only takes a quick minute to sign. Joining PeopleForBikes.org is a way for bicyclists in this country to speak with one powerful, united voice to ask for more safe places to ride a bike. By signing the pledge at www.PeopleForBikes.org, Americans can raise public awareness and demonstrate a commitment to our leaders in Congress and in cities and states throughout the country that bicycling is important and should be protected.

This May and this summer should be an amazing time for bicycling in America. An increasing percentage of our national leaders recognize bicycling as a simple solution for transportation challenges, jobs and economic development, and health and obesity issues. Communities are investing in bike lanes and paths more than ever, helping bicycling to become safer and stress-free. PeopleForBikes.org encourages Americans to take advantage of these new places to ride and to not only participate in National Bike Month, but to also incorporate bicycle trips into their daily routines.

To join 500,000 other Americans in signing the PeopleForBikes.org pledge, visit http://www.peopleforbikes.org/pages/pledge.

To learn more about National Bike Month and find events in your community, check out http://www.bikeleague.org/programs/bikemonth/.

To register for the National Bike Challenge, visit http://www.nationalbikechallenge.org .

National Bike Month Contests – Last Chance

National Bike Month may be drawing to a close, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t end the month with a brand new bike! As part of this month-long celebration of all things cycling, we’ve partnered with a few websites to give away some cool new rides.

If you surf over to Bullz-Eye.com, you can enter to win a 2011 Scattante F-330 Fitness Bike in their Bike to Work Month Performance Bicycle Giveaway:

Over at Shape.com, you can enter to win a 2011 Scattante W-330 Women’s Road Bike (designed with women’s specific geometry):

If that’s not enough, you should also be sure to enter our very own 100th Store Give-A-Way, a celebration of our landmark 100th store (plus National Bike Month, of course).

When you enter to win, you’ll have the chance to take home 1 of 100 $100 gift cards, a Pearl Izumi gear kit, or a brand new 2011 GT Sensor 9r Expert Mountain Bike:

These are all great bikes, and winning one would be a great way to close out National Bike Month in style! But if you don’t see a bike or prize you want to win, or you just don’t want to wait, then be sure to check out our huge Memorial Day Savings event, going on now through Memorial Day, online and in our stores! You’ll save an extra 15% off everything, including items already on sale (some exclusions apply)!

Product Profile – Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer

Since today is National Bike to Work Day, the culmination of Bike to Work Week, we thought it was the perfect opportunity for a product profile of the new Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer.  If you’ve been commuting by bike this month, you have probably already tried hauling your gear with a set of panniers, or in a backpack or a classic messenger bag. While those are all good commuting options, the Travoy bike trailer is a great alternative to transport just about anything – from a week’s worth of groceries, to a change of clothes for the office, or up to 60lbs of cargo!

Here David demonstrates how the Travoy Trailer hitches effortlessly to your seatpost and travels at a 45° angle, redistributing the load’s weight for easier riding and offering better stability than standard panniers or backpacks.

Setup is quick and easy, as all you need to do to get up and running is to clamp the trailer quick release bracket to your seatpost, and then mount or remove the trailer itself by pulling a little spring-loaded arm out of the way of the hitch pin.

And did we mention that the Travoy trailer can carry up to 60lbs! You can carry some serious loads in the included tote bag:

The tote bag has a nice wide opening and sturdy construction, but you can also upgrade to a waterproof Burley Dry Bag if the forecast calls for heavy downpours.

And when you’re done with your commute, just twist the 2 grips and fold the Travoy down into a convenient size for storage (you can even store the folded Travoy in its own tote bag). The whole setup weighs less than 10lbs, so you can easily just bring it inside with you when you get where you’re going.

Check out the Travoy in action in this video by Burley:

If you’re serious about commuting by bike, take a look at the Burley Travoy Urban Bike Trailer – it’s a great option to haul your gear in comfort and style.

Bike to Work Week Employee Profile: Tony DeRubeis

Here’s our last Bike to Work Week Employee Profile about one of the many commuters who ride to work here at Performance HQ. They ride different bikes and different routes, but they’ve all got great advice on how to make your commute easier and more fun!

What’s your name?

Tony DeRubeis .

What do you do at Performance?

Spin Doctor Pro Bike Build Coordinator.

How often do you ride to work?

1-2 times per week.

How far do you ride?

42 miles round trip.

What bike do you ride?

I ride a Scattante XRL cross frame with a Frankenbike parts kit.

Why do you commute by bike/what’s your favorite part of commuting by bike?

It’s a good workout, plus it’s more enjoyable than driving, it saves money and it’s better for the environment!

Any advice for someone who’s thinking about commuting by bike?

Any distance commuting by bike is better than driving – driving half of your commute and biking half is better than driving the whole thing.  And commuting by bike is like stealing time – if your 30 minute drive takes 60 minutes to ride, you get a 60 minute workout while only taking 30 minutes out of your day.

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