Across the world where there are bicycles, there are advocacy groups. At this year’s Eurobike industry leaders teamed up with the European Cyclists’ Federation, on an international level within the EU to expand cycling support and infrastructure. Within the United States Bikes Belong takes the lead in national cycling advocacy concerns. The city of Vancouver, BC, Canada has the HUB Cycling Connection. Within Massachusetts, the home state of Montague Bikes, there are a number of advocacy groups, from state down to the local level. A very successful local organization is the Boston Cyclists Union.
This group began in 2010 and has been growing at an astronomical pace, more than doubling in membership since it’s founding. The group has successfully advocated for new bike lanes along the infamous Massachusetts Avenue, a broad and heavily trafficked street which passes through Boston proper and the hearts of adjoining cities in the extended metropolitan area, including the campuses of Harvard University and MIT in Cambridge, MA.
What is the point of an advocacy group?
More people working together can get more done to make bicycling a safe, commonplace, and sustainable transportation option. Here at Montague we’ve been using the Park and Pedal technique for getting into the metro area, unfolding and setting out on the bicycle. Bike lanes, bike parking, and other pieces of infrastructure make this approach a direct and great way to get around. Much credit for these changes being put into place belongs to national, state, and local advocacy groups.
Mayor Menino of Boston declared about five years ago, in 2007, that he would lead the way for Boston to become a world-class cycling city. The Boston Cyclists Union has continually worked toward supporting the bicycle as transportation since it’s inception in 2010, an effort which has bolstered the municipal effort beyond a forced change. This group and others like it – such as Boston Bikes and MassDOT locally – turn a great civil development idea: prioritizing cycling for health, environmental, and economic reasons; and help it grow from the ground up through grassroots outreach into a real interest and commitment of the citizenry.
The Boston Cyclists Union had it’s Second Annual Meeting and party last week. Montague Bikes supported this effort with a donation for the event. The way that Boston is leading the way with effective changes for bicycling is a most worthy example for other cities. We’re not practicing park and pedal, taking the bike on the train, or riding to commute in a vacuum, we’re part of a large community of bicycles and cyclists from every walk of life, and we’re pleased to support this cause.
A party to celebrate the success of this group’s efforts doesn’t hurt morale – it’s putting a new spin on advocacy. The BCU has been repairing bikes at farmers markets and in working class neighborhoods, providing subsidized helmets for underprivileged youth, supporting commuters in the morning with coffee and breakfast, and leading the way in speaking up at community planning meetings. One person at a time on a bike, park and pedal, ride to work, helping keep kids safe on bikes – each small step brings the joy of cycling to more people.