For the past two weeks veteran and budding bicyclists around the country have been peddling the joys of pedaling by participating in the National Bike Challenge , National Bike to School Day and a host of other events. These are designed to get the average American thinking about dusting off that old bicycle in the garage, putting some air in the tires and taking a spin with their friends and neighbors. As advocates we love events like Bike to School day because for one day, everyone is a bicyclist. Parents will ask us questions about the safest way to ride. Principals might start to think about a better bike rack in front of their school. Mayors, council people, city staff and community members will, if for only a day, witness swarms of bicyclists on their roads, in their businesses and around their communities – and they might just enjoy the view. The excitement is palpable, our cause is at center stage and the proverbial iron is hot!
These encouragement events are fantastic fodder for future success. Everybody is primed and ready. Do not wait until next year’s Bike Month to begin building a more bicycle friendly school or community. Use the momentum of the occasion to engage your principals, schools, districts and elected officials in a serious conversation about long term changes that will increase bicycling in your community. At the Safe Routes Partnership, we recognize that increasing bicycling isn’t always as easy as 1-2-3. This is why in 2011 we hosted a six part webinar series specific to bicycling and Safe Routes to School. These webinars walk you through the ABCs of organizing bike trains; bicycle parking, storage and security at schools; funding, organizing and maintaining a school bicycle fleet, involving bike shops; increasing bicycling in lower-income communities and working with Nonprofit Advocacy organizations. Armed with the information in these webinars you are bound to increase bicycling for the long-term. In the meantime, make time to dust off your bicycle, air up the tires and take it for a spin!
Local Practice and Policy, a blog written by Dave Cowan, will cover many of the multifaceted aspects of his work here at the Safe Routes Partnership. Focusing on best practices, voices from the field and reflections on the Safe Routes to School movement as a whole, this blog will attempt to share a sliver of the good vibes, happy stories and great people Dave has the pleasure of working with to further Safe Routes to School on a daily basis.