Bicycle Advocacy Organizations: The National Stage
In its many forms and functions, utility cycling would not be possible without the support of the bicycle advocacy organizations that exist on both local and national levels. These organizations lobby for improved road and trail conditions as well as educate individuals, businesses and communities about bicycle safety and the benefits of using a bike more often. Bicycle advocates work tirelessly to ensure that cycling is a viable transportation option in cities all over the country.
The League of American Bicyclists, first known as the League of American Wheelman, was formed in 1880 and is responsible for the first paved roads in the U.S. As the county„s largest bicycle advocacy organization, the League continues its efforts to improve infrastructure and education for cyclists not only by powering its own initiatives such as National Bike Month and Bike to Work Day, but also by partnering with organizations such as America Bikes to advocate for federal support. The League is responsible for the National Bike Summit that takes place in Washington, D.C. each year (and just celebrated its 10thanniversary!), and for three days, influential advocates from many different arenas come together to learn from each other and to demonstrate to Congress that cycling is a part of the solution for environmental, health and energy issues. Additionally, the League understands that advocacy also needs to take place on a local level, and it gives people the tools to get involved with their local officials.
So, is bicycle advocacy working? U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (he„s the guy that is responsible for 55,000 employees and a $70 billion budget within the Department of Transportation) recently wrote on his blog that when it comes to investing in bicycle infrastructure, everybody wins. LaHood has spoken on NPR to discuss a national network of trails, and he understands that even for people who will continue to drive to work, making cycling a more feasible and safe alternative to driving benefits everyone by reducing traffic congestion overall. Gabe Klein, DC„s Department of Transportation Director, also spoke to NPR and said we see a direct correlation between our investment in bike infrastructure and an uptick in usage. When you make it hassle-free and inexpensive for people to use a certain mode, they will use it.
The infrastructure as well as the understanding of the utility of cycling is far from perfect, but a proposed national network of trails from the Secretary of Transportation is a fairly solid indication that the League of American Bicyclists, America Bikes, and many other bicycle advocacy organizations are being heard. In addition to the efforts of these organizations on a national level, there are some incredible local advocacy organizations all over the country, so check back for more on those groups as we head into May, National Bike Month!