Photo by Flickr user beaktreats
Your voice really does matter, REALLY
Several weekends ago I was talking to some friends about all the new bike lanes in Pittsburgh and the launch of Car Free Fridays. It was great to see the genuine enthusiasm and excitement people had for all the bike stuff happening in the city. One friend proceeded to tell me that the East Liberty Blvd bike lane has actually “changed her life.” She was serious. Just think about that – CHANGED HER LIFE.
With genuine passion she began to describe how much her life has been enhanced now that she can ride her daughter to day care instead of driving her. She feels safe riding in the bike lane. She described how East Liberty Boulevard was an urban autobahn that she would have never attempted on a bike, especially not with her daughter in tow
East Liberty Boulevard in particular has been a bone of contention with a couple of local politicians who didn’t want to slow down cars or provide another transportation choice. Both politicians neglected to see this as a safety issue for everyone not just people who ride bikes. As local bike advocates this is the type of perspective we sometimes find ourselves up against.
The problem is it’s often the same few voices standing on behalf of safer streets for all. After a while the same few voices lose their impact and get labeled the vocal fringe. Bicycle related improvements, including Complete Streets and a mind-set to embrace it will dramatically progress when our voices are many.
The more local your representative, the louder your voice has to be. President Obama may not hear about your phone call or letter, and certainly won’t be able to meet with you, but with your council person, or even state representative, you have an excellent chance of having your voice heard and increasing your impact. And they want to hear from you. It is their job to listen to what their voting constituents want and need.
Bicycle advocacy works to make our streets safer for everyone, regardless of age, income, sex or ethnicity and mode of transportation one chooses. It slows traffic, invites moderate exercise into our lives, keeps pollution out of the air, and scales urban design for people foremost, and not cars. BIKES CHANGE LIVES on many levels.
The thing is, those of us that recognize the benefits of bicycling must become an active voice for bicycle advocacy – to propel it out of the fringe and into the mainstream. If you’re touched in any way by the bicycle improvements happening before your eyes or you want more, its going to take as many of us as possible to speak up.
At BikePGH we love hearing stories about the ways bicycling or bike improvements have changed your life. Thanks, but most importantly tell your elected officials! Don’t wait. Do it today!
Not a member of Bike Pittsburgh? Join today! We need you to add your voice! Bike Pittsburgh works to protect cyclist’s rights and promote the vision of making Pittsburgh a safer and more enjoyable place to live and to ride. For more info, check out: www.bike-pgh.org/membership