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Effective Advocacy

You can make a difference in cycling by participation in your local governmental public input process, or by serving on boards and commissions.

To do so you will need to know that the issues are, and what the public perception of cycling is, arguments that you are likely to encounter, and the methods to defeat them or advance them as the case may be.

The good news, is that these public input meetings are now required virtually everywhere in the US, and most places in Canada.  Public officials generally pay attention.

But don't expect to walk in at the last meeting and upset the apple cart with new ideas.  You have to get involved early, and have your facts collected so that you can prevail in the early discussions.  If done well, and with support from your cycling friends your ideas will then be adopted by the process.  Use these articles as your homework assignment.

Bicyclists and the Language of Marginalization  A telling analysis of the treatment afforded cyclists in today's transportation mix. Mighk Wilson's essay explains how and why cyclists are treated like social outcasts, minorities, and provides insight to ways to combat this phenomena. 

Bike Lanes vs Wide Outside Lanes Here at Bicycling Life we are not particularly fond of bike paths, especially those that parallel urban streets.  But did you know there are arguments both for and against Bike Lanes as well.   Wayne Pein's well reasoned punch list discusses the pros and cons of bike lanes versus simply making the curb lane wider and forgetting about the paint.

Advocating Wide Lanes  When you lobby for Wide Outside Lanes you have to be prepared to answer specific criticisms, and counter the claims made by Bike Path proponents and bike lane proponents as well.  This article gives a couple of insitefull points to consider.

What Cycling Needs  Tim Hall's well reasoned article on what cycling needs to be more mainstream and more accepted as a viable means of transportation in the U.S.  A year around commuter, Tim succinctly identifies the central problems curtailing the acceptance of cycling, the fear-mongering, the waste of infrastructure dollars, and the political hangers-on that impede the development of cycling.

Effective Advocacy for Bicycling  There are ways that cyclists can have influence beyond their numbers.  By far the most productive methods do require some time, perhaps some research, and some patience.  Getting involved with the low-level government processes that take place in almost every part of America allows the bicycling community to affect the outcome of future construction, funding, rule-making, and law enforcement.  This article explains the typical government meetings and processes by which most decisions are made.  Our aim is to provide you with a basic familiarity of the process, as well as the pitfalls, and thereby prepare you to participate in the public process.

Companion Article: Tactics to Watch Out For, Some common ploys used at public meetings by various people for various purposes. Some of these are very common when dealing with Bicycling issues.

Nudging the Bureaucracy Involvement at the local level often starts with working against misconceptions and fearful prejudices. Merely showing up sets an example, and showing up on a bike sets a fine example. Here is one such example of participation in a local setting which can have the effect of nudging the bureaucracy into better accommodation of cyclists.

Projects for Cycling There are ways you can get involved in small ways that may make a big impact.  None of the projects we recommend are going to take over your life, or even get you off your bike.  They are low-budget projects which do not require massive amounts of time and effort.  Great projects for your club, or just as an individual.

The Roads We Have  Instead of building a network of bike paths at exorbitant expense, this article makes the case that the existing road system is the best place for bikes.  When lobbying for improvements to your cycling environment, consider the fact that you may already have the best of bicycling facilities, right there at the end of your driveway. 

The Right to Travel by Human Power  Is there any "right" to travel by bicycle on the public roads?  Steve Goodridge surveys some case law regarding a "human right" as old as roads themselves.

Bicycling Myths  Quite often in public forums you will find a great deal of misconception bandied about by seemingly knowledgeable people.  You will encounter these common "Bicycling Myths" in many public meetings.  Be prepared with the counter arguments. 

Bringing Home the Bacon Analytical Reasoning 101.  Choosing the right tool for the job is the first step to getting positive results.  Often just framing the question in the appropriate terms starts one on the road to a solution.

Police on Bikes?  Many Police departments around the country are turning to bicycles to get the job done.  It's not just a bunch of "Pacific Blue" copycats.  Cities and towns across the US, Canada are learning from the British Bicycle Bobbies and putting officers on the street on bicycles.  These bike patrols have proved popular with citizens and effective in action, with arrest records higher than motorized units.  A criminal may think about just driving away from a bike cop, but as one Juneau Alaska bicycle officer said "Nobody outruns Motorola". 




Links to Advocacy Sites



Bikes Belong


How to Encourage Cycling

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