It’s been nearly a year since we identified 10 worthy organizations to receive one of the $3,000 Better Bicycling Community Grants, in honor of our 30th anniversary, so we thought that it was time to catch up with these groups to see how they’ve used the grants to make a difference in their local communities. Cascade Bicycle Club, a non-profit organization based in Seattle, Washington, used their grant to help fund Cascade’s Advocacy Leadership Institute, a group that is building the grassroots power of the bicycle movement. We asked Tarrell Wright, of Cascade Bicycle Club, to write a few words about what ALI is all about:
“Our Better Bicycling Community Grant has enabled us to bring power to the bicycling movement by harnessing the enthusiasm of community members. With the skills and training they’ve gained through the Advocacy Leadership Institute, our first crop of Community Bicycle Advocates have gone on to testify at public hearings and start advocacy groups of their own. They’ve already become an invaluable asset to Cascade as we work toward safer, more connected communities where people of all ages and abilities can comfortably bike where they need to go.
“Since completing the inaugural eight-week session of our new Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) in July 2012, several of our first 18 Community Bicycle Advocates have gone on to lead their own campaigns, including Don Brubeck of West Seattle Bike Connections and Janet Shull of WaBiBurien. Four graduates testified in support of funding for bicycling at the City of Seattle budget hearing last October. Shannon Koller was featured in the Al Jazeera piece on bicycling in Seattle and across the nation, and Merlin Rainwater has spearheaded an initiative called Safe Routes to Health focused on engaging health care facilities and hospitals in making sure patients, visitors and staff can safely and easily walk, bike and take transit to those facilities. Glen Buhlmann started Kirkland Greenways, the first Seattle Neighborhood Greenways affiliate based outside of the city. We’ve been providing ongoing support to these advocates as they’ve continued working toward better bicycling in their communities, thanks in part to funding through this Performance Better Bicycling Community Grant.
“It’s a bit early to gauge increases in bicycling as a result of our January 2013 session, as it has only just begun. However, we succeeded in gathering more than 1,000 petition signatures for a bold and visionary Seattle Bicycle Master Plan update, and more than 5,000 people have responded to our electronic calls to action. The draft network plan includes 523 miles of bicycle facilities to be built or upgraded over the next 20 years – including cycle tracks, bike lanes, trails and family-friendly neighborhood greenways. Several ALI participants have created their own grassroots advocacy groups, engaging more than 250 community members.”
Here at Performance Bicycle, we are proud to support the work of the Cascade Bicycle Club Advocacy Leadership Institute as they continue to grow this valuable and influential program, and make a real difference to cyclists in the Seattle area.