By Megan Hottman
In the course of one week, I had two awesome opportunities to get involved in policy-making and aspects of bike advocacy and transportation and safety.
The first was June 4-6 with People for Bikes on a Women’s Fly-in to DC. There, 30 women from the bike industry along with female staff members of PFB, descended upon Capitol Hill to meet with elected officials and their staff, to advocate for bikes. Specifically, we had 3 asks (detailed below). PFB facilitated the meetings with our state officials (and their staff and interns). As well, we had the chance to network and connect as women in the bike industry who are working hard to effect change not just in transportation but across the cycling industry.
Our 3 asks, as outlined in our PFB materials:
Support bike funding priorities in the 2020 reauthorization of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. Every six years, Congress must reauthorize transportation funding. That happens in the FAST Act, which covers long‐term funding for maintenance and new projects on highways, railways, bike infrastructure and more.
Our main priorities of the FAST Act include:
● Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)
● Federal Lands Transportation Program (FLTP) set‐aside
Modernize the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP)
TAP is the largest federal funding source to help communities build bike infrastructure for on and off road bike facilities, recreational trail projects, safe routes to schools, and protected bike lanes. We are asking for increased funding and modernized funding mechanisms to empower local decision makers to direct TAP funds.
Federal Land Transportation Program (FLTP) set‐aside
As cycling becomes more popular on federal lands, we support a 5% set‐aside for bike and pedestrian infrastructure within the FLTP. This would help address the need for safer bicycling and walking on federal lands and would help to prioritize all modes of transportation, including those that are non‐motorized.
Increased funding for safety data
There is a lack of safety data for cyclists. We support expanding data to include injuries as well as fatalities to help with safety planning and prioritizing infrastructure.
This was a tremendous experience! From the chance to connect and network with lady bosses across the bike industry, to the chance to meet our elected officials and their staff members in person, to the chance to really sit down and think about, and articulate, what we are asking for on behalf of the cycling advocacy world, this was a priceless and valuable experience! As someone who represents injured bicyclists, and who is always advocating for safer cycling and better/more infrastructure for cycling, I felt like this trip was my first real opportunity to influence the people in our government who make those decisions. It's one thing to preach to the choir, to rally for things online or on socials, but it's another thing entirely to board a plane and spend a few days meeting with decision-makers. I truly believe it's on all of us to #dowhatyoucanwithwhatyouhavewhereyouare … and this trip was a wonderful chance for me to do JUST that. I'm so grateful to PFB for this gratifying experience and hope to join in again soon!
Back home in Golden, I saw signs around town notifying residents of the Golden Transportation Planning meeting on 6/11/19. So, I made a point to attend - because truly, if we don’t vote, we don’t have a right to complain, and if we don’t show up, we don’t know how or where to voice our opinions.
Sure enough, the meeting was ripe with opportunities to weigh in on specific transportation issues and even to show how we’d vote with our hypothetical budget dollars. I took the opportunity to raise 3 specific issues/asks and to write extensive comments on my comment card.
My post on FB about the event sums up this experience:
In short, these 2 experiences reinforced/reminded me that we cannot sit around and gripe about the state of affairs in bike advocacy and bike safety if we are not willing to put our time, talents, money and energy into these causes. I encourage everyone who rides a bike, to find a way to get involved- from a local nonprofit or cycling organization, to a national organization like People for Bikes, to attending local committee and community meetings, to taking part in a PFB DC Fly-in … showing up is a big part of moving these conversations forward and it takes ALL of us to make a change.
Not just the “they” — it takes each of US.