Individual Advocacy

It’s been a while since my last post; vacation, work, other personal stuff took priority. Although I wasn’t here, I did continue thinking about bicycle advocacy in Omaha and elsewhere. Specifically, I pondered what we as individuals can do to promote cycling as a transportation alternative. Some of this may be obvious but still bears mention, just in case.

First is stuff: where do you get yours. All of us buy stuff, whether it’s clothes, food, hardware, or anything else we need or want. Where do you buy it? Next time you’re there, look around. Is there a bike rack close by to lock to? If not, why not? Ask the proprietor/manager. Point out to her/him that people who bike are more likely to stop in more often and, overall, spend more than folks who drive.

How about entertainment? Do you and your friends ever consider riding to dinner and a movie? It’s a great way to work up an appetite, even riding at a conversational pace. Combine your bike with the bus, and there’s pretty much nowhere you can’t reach in Omaha.

Speaking of the bus, were you aware that Metro has released design concepts for their Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system? All of the designs have the potential of incorporating bike racks. They’re looking for public comment, so take the time to let them know you support the idea.

Now let’s talk about your bike. Even if you do most of your own maintenance, there are times you need a part, tool, or supply. What do you do? Buy it off the ‘net? Hit a “Big Box” store? No! As an Individual Advocate you head down to your local bike shop, especially if they’re active in the advocacy arena themselves. If they are, then they’re spending time and money doing the same thing we are: promoting cycling as a transportation choice. By patronizing your LBS, your dollars work in two ways. You’re getting what you need or want, AND you’re putting money to work on our behalf. Support your bike shop. It pays huge dividends.

So what else can you do? Join a group. There are a number of organizations working to promote a safer cycling environment. At the state level, the Nebraska Bicycle Alliance (NeBA) keeps their eyes and ears open at the capitol. Locally, Mode Shift Omaha and Omaha Bikes work to educate the administration and city council on transportation issues. Most of the bicycle clubs in the area have advocacy committees that keep their members informed. While a single voice can be heard, a multitude can’t be ignored.

There’s one more thing that you can (and should) do as an individual advocate, and it’s the most fun. Ride. Be seen. Take your family and coerce your friends. Whether it’s on the road, on the trail, in your neighborhood. Ride, and smile because you just can’t help it.
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