Amy Morfas

Inspiration found at the National Bike Summit

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The changing face of bike advocacy

I had the privilege of attending the National Bike Summit again in early March. The summit is organized and hosted by the League of American Bicyclists in our nation’s capital. This annual gathering brings together advocates from across the country, along with industry folks, city planners, etc., to learn from one another, share the latest and greatest and lobby our congressmen and women for better bicycling in the U.S.

The changing face of bicycle advocacy

This year’s event was interesting to me as there was change in the air. The League recently hired a new executive director, so that gave a different flavor to the event. At the opening night dinner, first-time attendees were asked to stand and it seemed that about a third of the room got up from their chairs. Wow! So while the “old guard” was still well represented, seeing such a diverse group of people in the room was exciting.

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2016 National Bike Summit and Women's Forum Lobby Day on Capitol Hill. Washington DC March 9, 2016 © Rick Reinhard 2016 email rick@rickreinhard.com
En route to a legislative meeting on Lobby Day

As our movement works to reach across all boundaries and remove barriers to entry for new riders, it’s important that ALL people feel welcome in the cycling community. A broad range of people of color, the LGBT community and an influx of younger attendees were well represented. This year’s summit showed the progress we’re making in this area. In fact, a representative from the bike industry said to me, “This is the first time that advocacy is moving faster than industry.”

Inspiration

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With Veronica Davis of Black Women Bike DC

Each year you can take away new things from the summit. This time, a year after Bicycle Colorado launched the Women Bike Colorado group, I met with Veronica Davis, founder of the group Black Women Bike DC. Our two groups share the goal of creating a supportive environment for women who wish to ride.

It was refreshing to get outside of my “Boulder bubble” and be reminded of how many ways there are to encourage and address both real and perceived hindrances to riding.

On the flipside, it was great to have several younger advocates turn to me to learn from my experiences working at our organization. There are many small one- or two-person teams out there chugging away every day to make bicycling better where they live. They have a lot of energy and are extremely dedicated, and the opportunity to help them look for ways to work more efficiently, connect to other resources or be more effective is very fulfilling.

I also attended some informative sessions and took away some great nuggets for how to improve upon our own annual Colorado Bicycle Summit.

On the Hill

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Colorado constituents meet with Senator Bennet

The final day of the summit is when we get to be advocates at the national level. On lobby day, constituents meet with their U.S. Senators, Representatives and staff.

Bicycle Colorado leads the group of Colorado constituents through the meetings, where we present specific requests for bills to support, provide updates to them on what’s happening here on the ground in Colorado and thank them for their support on any bicycle-friendly measures they’ve supported with their votes. This year a big thank you was for getting a national transportation bill passed.

After the legislative meetings, summit attendees gather at the Congressional Reception, where we host elected officials who wish to join us to celebrate the success of the week. Advocates gather to share their lobby day stories, toast successes and swap business cards to continue the bonds and shared knowledge that help build a bicycle friendly U.S.

I’m already looking forward to next year![/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Amy Morfas

About the Author: Amy Morfas

Amy leads our marketing and communications efforts and oversees our membership program. She also organizes our Colorado Bicycle Summit and Gala Celebration. Amy enjoys riding her road bike around Boulder and beyond.

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