Historically, there’s been a few categories of resources: how-to educational basics, from learning how to ride on the street with traffic, to fixing a flat tire and selecting a first bicycle. Links to those are included at the bottom of the page.
A more interesting and less asked question is how to make bike lanes happen? How do I convince my council member or a business owner to support bikes, especially if there is a perceived threat – less parking for example. Cities all over the US have faced these hurdles and there is a library of materials that show legal precedent, state-approved design guides and records of businesses that showed increased sales after bike infrastructure made their location easier to visit via biking or walking. Because that’s a more nuanced area, a few influential resources are linked, but please feel free to reach out for specific references.
In the last several years the bicycle movement has struggled to transition to an ‘active transportation’ movement that includes: scooters, walking, e-bikes, those strange UFO e-skateboards and everything else going on in micro-mobility. But – that’s an opportunity for someone to start! Email/DM for referrals to folks that are working in that arena.
Finally: Hopefully you’re here because you are part of the Black Lives Matter movement and looking for ways to dismantle the systemic racism in the bicycle industry and across transportation in America. *Awesome* Email/DM your project/request details in a few brief sentences and we’ll connect you with at least two black experts who can take it from there.
In the meantime have you listened to all the episodes of Fix It Black Jesus with BFFs Laura Solis and Ayesha McGowen?
Fundamentals: (aka ‘let me google that for you’)
Becoming an educated advocate:
Reach out to both the local/state/regional advocacy nonprofit. DONATE to them, this is not a zero-sum game. Then find the nearest bike co-op (even if hundreds of miles away, they’ll have a lot of ‘local’ knowledge.) These are the two traditional styles of bike advocacy organizations that exist almost everywhere in the US. You’ll learn a lot from both approaches. Thinking of your own life: who else cares about these issues? Identifying and building a base of support is always the first step.
You’ll need to learn how power is organized and influenced where you live – that means getting to know who the local elected officials are, how to reach them and what other stake holders will be involved. Push back generally comes from: businesses who fear loss of income, homeowners who fear any kind of change, and drivers who fear having to share the road or slow down.
The extra dimension of inequality complicates everything. For example: Beverly Hills in Los Angeles doesn’t want sidewalks, public transit or bike lanes because they don’t want tourists or ‘people who don’t belong’ to be in their neighborhood. Across town in Boyle Heights residents also don’t want bike lanes because they represent gentrification and the loss of affordable housing and the joys of a stable Latinx community. Does this mean that bikes are a bad thing? No, it means that income inequality and racism is more important than bikes.
While California has a reputation for being ‘green’ it was also a state that because of the ‘California Highway Design Manual’ bike lanes were illegal on California streets until a very clever transportation consultant (shout out to Ryan Snyder!) read several hundred pages of it and figured out a hack to use approved design elements in a way that could be manipulated into on-street markings that would be allowed. Now, things are different but it took that crucial step to begin. In NYC, famous for putting bike lanes where they were once unimaginable, local advocates would paint DIY bike lanes in the middle of the night. They were removed, fought over, changed, upgraded… but they were the physical manifestation and social experiment that lead to the officially sanctioned infrastructure that followed. These ‘tactical urbanism’ measures continue to evolve: now toilet plungers are being used to define space in place of bollards.
Now, we’ve got the NACTO design guide.
Engineers at the city can also look to other cities, like Brooklyn, that have already had to address lawsuits and claims that emergency services will be delayed and every possible scenario. Most never consider that these problems have been faced, resolved and measured somewhere else.
But what we haven’t been able to do is empower equal representation in transportation, housing, planning and professional cycling that can overcome dire income inequality and funding problems. Good luck out there. <3
- Social (in)equity in access to cycling infrastructure: Cross-sectional associations between bike lanes and area-level sociodemographic characteristics in 22 large U.S. cities note: This is a fantastic, peer reviewed academic paper. Unfortunately you’ll also need academic library access or $$.
- Measuring the Local Economic Impacts of Replacing On-Street Parking With Bike Lanes: A Toronto (Canada) Case Study
- Wheels for All: Ensuring Equitable Access to Dockless Mobility in Los Angeles
- Not all crashes are created equal: Associations between the built environment and disparities in bicycle collisions
- Bicycle Justice and Urban Transformation: Biking for all? amazon
- Bicycle / Race amazon
- Bike Lanes are White Lanes: Bicycle Advocacy and Urban Planning amazon
- Ovarian Psycos – film