cycling bike activism A\J

If you’ve rediscovered the thrill of cycling during Bike Month, or if you’re already committed to your bike, you may find yourself wondering how to promote cycling in your city. Like most countercultures, bike culture is deeply linked to activism.

The easiest (and most fun) way to promote cycling is to ride your bike where you’ll be seen and ride it a lot. “Walk the talk,” as the youth-led bike activism touring theatre group, Otesha Project, would say.

“Riding your bike is a tangible way to reduce fossil fuel reliance,” says programs coordinator Kayla Siefried, “and it can be ridiculously fun.” Siefried recommends focusing on the many benefits of cycling as opposed to the negatives of widespread automobile use. “Operating from a place of positivity and hopefulness speaks to people much more readily than a place of negativity,” says Siefried, “and respects others’ personal choices.”

“Making cycling safer should be considered locally, provincially and nationally as an agenda item,” furthers Siefried. Promoting cycling will create greater political momentum for the development of cycling infrastructure, making cycling safer and more convenient. Bringing cycling to the mainstream can also help increase acceptance on the roadways. More bikes on the road will ultimately lead to a better cycling experience. Widespread bicycle use also leads to more people-friendly cities.

How to promote cycling, according to Bicycling Magazine:

  • Start a regular group ride or join a critical mass.
  • Ask businesses for bike parking ­– it’s good for business.
  • Write to your mayor and ask for specific bike infrastructure.
  • Invite a city planner or cycling advocate to speak at an event. Discuss the cycling issues in your community.

Bicycling Magazine also has a helpful guide to commonly used terms in cycling advocacy, which is helpful if you’ve always wondered what the difference is between a bike lane, bike path, bike boulevard and cycle track.

This post marks the end of the Gear up with A\J series, but we’ll continue to build on our cycling page. In turn, we hope the tips we shared help you better integrate cycling into your life and provided you with the tools to bring more bikes to our streets. 

Look for an interview with Kayla Siefried from the Otesha Project in our upcoming Food & Drink issue (39.4) this July.

Enter to win a copy of Rethinking the Bicycle and other great bike books by telling us about your favourite place to bike below, in a Facebook comment or by tweeting at us before the end of Bike Month (June 30). Visit our cycling page for more bike-related content, including How to Maintain Your Ride and How to Commute by Bike.

Julie is an urban planning graduate student at the University of Waterloo, focusing on sustainable transportation.

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