Bike Advocates Across the Nation Turn to Virtual Platform to Advocate for Safe Streets for Everyone
COVID-19 can’t stop the need to advocate and talk about safe streets
Every year the League of American Bicyclists hosts the largest gathering of bike advocates in the United States at the National Bike Summit in DC. Usually, the annual theme (this year: Safe Streets for Everyone), gives the framework for the discussions, seminars, sessions, and Lobby Day asks. However, due to COVID-19, this year’s summit and Lobby Day turned completely virtual for the first time in its decades-long history.
The virtual Summit started on March 15 and is continuing until the end of April with one or two virtual sessions every day.
BikePGH at the 2020 Summit
Over the years BikePGH has had various levels of involvement with the National Bike Summit. This year, the University Bike/Ped Committee, in collaboration with two universities in Chicago, presented a session titled Biking to Campus: How Universities are Joining Forces to Create a Grassroots Movement.
The session was about the Pittsburgh University Bike/Ped Committee’s efforts to start and sustain a working group of university bike/ped staff across campuses who have joined forces to create more Bicycle Friendly Universities. The presentation also discussed Pittsburgh and Chicago’s efforts to host Bike to Campus events, an event similar to Bike to Work Day, but geared towards students, faculty, and staff at the Universities.
After the presentation, a follow-up session was held to discuss how to make Bike to Campus events a nationwide movement. Around 20 people across the country joined this discussion and we’re working to see how this can come to fruition in the near future. It was a great experience to see an idea develop and to hear from others about their work in other parts of the country.
- Watch the presentation here.
- Watch the follow-up discussion here.
- Watch all summit recorded sessions here.
One of the biggest reasons why the National Bike Summit happens every year is for the opportunity to lobby on Capitol Hill and to talk to our representatives in Congress about the biking and walking issues that we face at home. The League of American Bicyclists helps facilitate by putting together fact sheets on relevant national bills and by providing us with specific “asks” to make to the elected. Our job, as constituents, is to engage in meaningful dialogue with them in order to highlight the importance and need of these “asks” by lending our community and professional perspective and insight.
This year, Lobby Day fell on Tuesday, March 16, and we turned our previously scheduled meetings into telephone calls with the transportation staffers within the Offices of Congressmen Doyle and Lamb, as well as those from Senators Toomey and Casey. We collaborated with our State Coordinator, John Boyle, from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, who helped set up the meetings and lead many of the conversations.
A lot of background work is done to make these calls successful, and they were not simply a one and done exchange. It was rewarding to see the joint vision of so many transportation advocates represented on a national scale being used to influence change. Aside from providing a space to voice our ideas and needs, Lobby Day sets in motion a channel of continuing dialogue between advocates and elected officials that increases the clarity of current and future policy decisions and makes sure those policies work for us, the people.
If you’d like to find out more about Lobby Day and read over the fact sheets about the bills that we lobbied for, you can find the information here.
The 2020 National Bike Summit is a time for bike-minded people to come together, to find inspiration, comradery, and support, and to learn new things. While the experience of an in-person gathering wasn’t possible this year, the values, community, and insight of sharing the passion that everyone has for the love of bicycling was clearly felt. Even in its virtual form, the Summit continues to spread the message that safe streets are for everyone and continues to inspire us to continue our vital work in making our communities better places for everyone.