So you ride. And what else?
Why I rode my bike 161 miles to the National Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. from my home (actually, my office) in Richmond, VA. I noticed something the other day that’s been in front of my face for some time: the national bike advocacy organization People for Bikes sponsors the pro tour bike racing team Trek Segafredo. It’s plainly plastered on the side of the team’s jerseys, and has been for a few years. It’s good visibility to bike racing viewers that bike advocacy needs to happen on a grand scale.
Except, of course, that though I’ve seen it countless times, it never jumped out as a call to action.
And this is no slight on People for Bikes, an organization doing great work to make America great for bikes again (tee hee). I do perceive, however, a disconnect between those who ride the most (bike racers, avid recreational riders) and the overall bike movement to build more and better bike infrastructure, demand better laws for biking, and to bring more diverse individuals and groups of people into the fold.
I find myself at the annex of a variety of biking demographics. In my free time, I joyfully toil away with the fastest people in Richmond, myself a pretty sub-par bike racer. At work and in the community, I’m the “bike guy”, helping people get the most out of riding: finding the right bike, getting started, routing help, best practices and pro tips, chummy encouragement, and occasionally some certified instruction. For me, my day job brings these together. Advocacy in the bike movement is the hub, and all the different people and groups who ride (or don’t ride yet) are the spokes.
So as the next step after Sports Backers’ first recon ride to D.C. last July, I figured the best way for me to commute to the National Bike Summit in Washington would be by riding. I spent 10 hours thinking about this as I rode to D.C. one Sunday in early spring. Bike racers and recreational riders, lovely people, enjoy one thing above all: riding. Bike Walk RVA and our peer organizations around the Commonwealth and nation use a variety of tools to allow people to help: email and letter writing campaigns, organizing community meetings, showing up in full force at public hearings, and more.
But how can riding be the action that brings energy to the bike movement? *gears turning*
Gosh, at this point, the idea starts to sell itself, no? That’s it. Put your pedal where your mouth is. Not literally. We’re going to ride to D.C. With a bunch of people. And when I say “we”, I mean you and your friends. Richmonders. Virginians. Riders from the D.C. Metro area. Supporters of bike advocacy everywhere. We’re calling on you to join us for two glorious days in Richmond, Fredericksburg, and our nation’s capital to arrive on the threshold of where major national decisions for bike transportation funding happen, to meet our senators and congresspeople, and to come back with tales of what a real network of bike infrastructure can be.
Continuing the work we do when we travel to the National Bike Summit, Sports Backers is cooking something up just for you. Ride 75 miles to Fredericksburg, spend the night camping by the Rappahannock or in a local hotel, and start fresh the next morning on the final 81 miles into D.C. There’ll be a marked course, aid stations, SAG support, a finish festival – the works. And on top of the great riding through glorious horse country, historic battlefields, and managed wildlife areas, you’ll be making an impact on Virginia and the nation: building visibility and support for bike infrastructure funding at the national level. This is your chance to get your legislators to take notice of what’s important to you. Not only that, but we’ll be working with and supporting bike/ped nonprofits along the way to craft a truly regional initiative we hope to see grow for years to come.
Will you join me? Stay tuned for more details coming out any day now.