Where To From Here?
This month, PeopleForBikes celebrates an important milestone: reaching one million individual supporters. It's a meaningful number that will help boost bicycling in a variety of ways, but it's just a start. We're still early on the journey of making bicycling safer and more appealing for everyone.
Now is an appropriate time to step back, make sure we're properly focused, and also thank everyone for getting involved. This is also an opportunity to quickly outline where we're going and offer suggestions on how people can participate.
The Mission: Better Bike Riding For Everyone
From our beginning, PeopleForBikes' goal has been to get more people riding bikes more often. More specifically, we've focused on making every bike ride better (though thankfully, many rides are already really good). We pay special attention to the many millions of Americans—both adults and kids—who want to bike, but don't. Most of these people are afraid of riding mixed-in with fast-moving motor vehicles; others simply can't find good places to ride close to home. As we help address their needs, all bike riders will benefit.
Keep Growing and Activating the Grassroots Army
When we launched the PeopleForBikes campaign in 2010, we recognized that tens of millions of Americans ride bikes and value the many benefits that bicycling brings to their communities and our nation. We also recognized that only a tiny percentage of them had ever expressed support for bicycling to the public officials who make crucial decisions that affect riding. We are now closing this gap.
In the coming months, PeopleForBikes will increasingly mobilize our supporters to weigh in on local, state and federal issues and opportunities that shape the bicycling experience. We'll continue to make these calls-to-action clear and efficient. In cooperation with our many partners, we will succeed in getting elected officials to act because we've not only gathered compelling talking points but also an impressive number of supporters. We're gaining real clout.
We will also continue to cultivate support by what we call grasstops influencers—not only elected officials at all levels, but also business and foundation leaders, media chiefs, developers, celebrities and pro athletes.
You can help by staying involved, responding to our action alerts, and by encouraging your family, friends, neighbors and workmates to ride and to join PeopleForBikes, which is quick, easy and free. As our numbers grow, we will become more effective in making bicycling better for all of us.
At PeopleForBikes, we have a 10-year plan that includes a key measure of growth: 5X. By 2025, we want Americans to take five times the number of bike rides each year that we make today. For this to happen, bike infrastructure will need to improve. We'll need five times the current number of protected bike lanes, multi-use paths, bike parks, and complete, seamless, safe networks of all kinds. Busy roadways will need more smooth, debris-free bike lanes.
Relations between motorists and bike riders on the road will need to improve. Beyond the number of collisions, injuries and deaths, this on-the-road safety component doesn't lend itself easily to a 5X analysis, but it is unquestionably important.
We will continue to work on our Green Lane Project, which has helped inspire dramatic growth of protected bike lanes—not only in the 12 cities where we've focused since 2012, but all across the U.S. We will continue to provide grant support for a wide variety of projects that improve infrastructure. Our new safety campaign, Travel With Care, is a promising strategy to reduce tension on the road by reminding everyone that people who bike aren't anonymous oddballs but rather your neighbors, co-workers and friends.
And of course, we'll work hard to enlist five times our current number of members.
Supporting Cost-Effective Investments
Nearly all types of bicycling take place on public land or in the public right-of-way—a multi-layered tapestry that is managed by a wide variety of government agencies. Most of these agencies struggle to maintain balanced budgets, particularly in line items that relate to health-care and transportation infrastructure. We can help here—a lot.
Bike infrastructure can be quickly implemented, and relatively inexpensive to build and maintain. The key here is use: if a lot of people ride on it, a variety of important, positive things happen. We will continue to push for the reasonable, cost-effective investments that lead to more people riding. It is crucial to the future of bicycling and beneficial to the future of our communities, nation and world.
Bike riding should be an activity that anyone can do, whether or not they see themselves as cyclists. We will continue to promote all of bicycling's positives, which will help riding become more mainstream and more widely respected. We will also increase our research and survey work to better document the gains associated with better bike infrastructure and more bike riding.
One of PeopleForBikes' core strengths is our logo, particularly the smile. Beyond all the serious considerations related to transportation and health, safety and investment, our logo reminds everyone that bicycling is fun. Bicycling makes people happy. As we add another million people to PeopleForBikes, let's never forget these key things. Thanks!
Tim Blumenthal, president, PeopleForBikes