Earlier this year, I applied for, and was awarded The League of American Bicyclists Equity Scholarship. This scholarship helped with the cost to attend the National Bike Summit. I was thrilled to be among the award winners, and even more excited for the opportunity to learn from the amazing advocates all over our country.
The League of American Bicyclists has hosted this event for 17 years, and continues to host this platform to connect state and local advocates, to roll out new initiatives, and share best practices. The week was packed with informative and innovative workshops and seminars. I met people from dozens of states who were all eager to share their knowledge. Being around such dedicated and action-oriented people was so energizing for me.
One panel was made up of experts from Georgia, Maine and Virginia. They spoke about how to attract new bicyclists and new advocates.
We also heard from the Bike Program Specialist for the City of Fort Collins, CO about their successful Bicycle Friendly Driver program. They teach drivers how to interact with cyclists.
The Washington Area Bicycling Association took us on a walking tour to see their protected bike lanes, cycle tracks, and other bicycle facilities.
A unique component of the summit is Lobby Day, where all represented states visit their Senators and Congresspeople to talk about issues that affect us as a cycling community. This year, the President has pledged significant spending to improve infrastructure nationwide. Representatives from Bicycle Indiana, the City of Carmel, the CED of Madison County and myself had meetings with our members of congress and their offices to ask that they support infrastructure packages that include funding for multi-modal transportation. We also talked to our State Representatives about HR 1266, Vision Zero, which was just introduced last week by Oregon Representative Earl Blumenauer.
I’ve never lobbied on Capital Hill before, and I learned a lot from the experience: how to navigate the tunnels, how to de-code the lights on the clocks and the bells, how often meetings are held in hallways because there is so much going on! I am very glad to report that everyone we met with were receptive to our message.
My goals in attending this conference were two fold – the first would be to absorb all of the good ideas that my fellow advocates have to share, and the second was to build relationships. I know both of those objectives were accomplished. Now, my task is to turn this experience into action that will benefit our cycling community here in Fort Wayne.