There are some topics that cross political lines. Cycling is one of them.
While politicians may disagree on the laws that govern cyclists or how to best allocate resources for more cycling friendly infrastructure, everyone can agree that having more people ride bikes is a good thing. There are politicians who are more vocal than others in their support of bicycling but none were more of an advocate in Washington than Jim Oberstar, the current representative to Congress from Minnesota.
Jim Oberstar was narrowly defeated in the mid-term elections held this past Tuesday and it’s safe to say that just about everyone in the cycling world is disappointed. He was that much of an advocate for cycling in all its forms but in particular as a way to stay healthy and promote more active lifestyles.
David Montague, President and Founder of Montague Bikes said “Jim Oberstar deserves an enormous amount of credit for all he has done for bicyclists. His efforts in congress will be truly missed but now it’s an opportunity and a wake up call for all of us to follow Jim’s lead and be advocates collectively, but in our own way.”
The president of the American League of Bicyclists, Andy Clarke, said “bicyclists and the bicycling movement have lost a friend in Congress. I’m not going to lie — I’m depressed.”
So where do we go from here? As David Montague said, we should “follow Jim’s lead and be advocates”. Here are a few things you can do today to help support bicycle advocacy.
Sign the Pledge
People for Bikes is an initiative by BikesBelong.org and is the organizer of a pledge drive in support of bicycles. Visit their site at www.PeopleForBikes.org, read about why their goal of getting to a million names is such an important one.
Build a trail
The Rails to Trails Conservancy gives you several ways to get involved including building a trail! This organization transforms railroad tracks into trail systems that can be used by cyclists for great off-road adventures.
Donate a Bike
One of the many great things about bicycles is the feeling of community they create. Many of us are fortunate enough to have one or more bikes and ride for recreation. There are people all over the world who rely on bicycles for basic transportation needs and kids who aren’t fortunate to experience the freedom of that first ride. Consider donating to an organization that not only advocates cycling but is a conduit to help provide bikes to people all over the world. Need a place to start? Take a look at Bikes Not Bombs.
Lead the Bike Lane Charge
Use the statistics available on BikesBelong.org to build a case for more bike lanes in your city or town by opening a dialogue with municipal officials. The Alliance for Biking and Walking also has several resources to help you promote a cycling lifestyle where you live.
Go for a Ride!
What better way to advocate for cycling and show your support than to get out on your bike. Bike to work, go on a bike tour, hop on your single speed, do some tricks on your BMX, sit in your recumbent, do errands on your bike, enter a bike race, ride to the beach on your cruiser, hit the trails on a mountain bike, teach a kid to ride a bike.
You’ll find that if you really look around that bicycles are already a huge part of our culture. Keep Jim Oberstar’s momentum going in your own way and lead by example in any way you can.