I’ve been on the Little Rock mayor’s Bike Friendly Community Committee for the past year. The committee itself was formed several years ago to provide review of the city’s infrastructure and policies alongside a sort of list of ideal practices one would find in a city friendly to cyclists of all kinds. Little Rock can’t become Portland overnight, but by choosing things that would be simple and low-cost, we could make real progress toward treating cyclists and pedestrians well and providing safe space for all road users. Sounds good, right?
It was useful and worthwhile work, I’d thought. I was aware that there were problems – that the specific structure of LR’s city government made progress of this kind difficult, and that there were people on the committee itself who were happy with the status quo, who would be difficult for me to work with. I knew it would be time consuming, and that I’d have to go to a lot of meetings. (I hate meetings.) Continue reading “Goodbye, BFCC”
Sometime in February, a coworker from upstairs said that she’d like to do Bike to Work Day as an ’employee wellness program.’ She’s the one who does Walk Across Arkansas, and a number of other wellness things – she’s a gerontologist – and she thought we should do Bike to Work again.
In the past, Extension has done Bike to Work Day as part of the 4H program, with really limited success. LaVona and I decided that we’d do better. Against my better judgment, we formed a Committee. I hate committees. But this one was pretty good, because we picked people we liked, and every month we’d ride across town to eat lunch someplace and talk about what we were going to do about Bike to Work Day. Continue reading “National Bike Week – Bike to Work Day”
|Photo by Judy Lansky
In May, every year, there’s an international event honoring those cyclists killed while riding. This year’s local event saw about 75 local cyclists riding silently, in pairs, from the Clinton Library to the state Capitol. We wore white shirts, and on our backs we pinned cards with the name and age of a fallen bike rider. Continue reading “National Bike Week – Ride of Silence”
One thing I brought back from the National Bike Summit this spring has to do with women in cycling. Only 25% of cyclists in the US are women. Why is that? Because, as a group, we really do need different things than men in order to be comfortable riding bikes. Women like to ride as a social thing, I learned. Women like to feel clean and safe. Women like to feel accepted when they ride. And if women can be encouraged to ride more, more kids will grow up on bikes. It’s worth working on. I hadn’t realized it before. Continue reading “National Bike Week – Cyclofemme Womens’ Ride”
BACA, our local bike advocacy group, has been pretty stagnant for awhile. Membership’s sort of gone flat (click here to sign up). Lots of clubs and groups don’t feel represented. Lots of minor events are sponsored, without much effect. Meetings felt useless to most cyclists, and people stopped coming. The most recent board tended to get into shouting matches at their meetings.
Major local issues went unnoticed, or worse, BACA board members said the wrong thing in public and other cyclists and groups spoke up to disagree. The city and county government stopped listening because they didn’t know who to listen to. BACA could have an enormous impact, but it doesn’t.
Or it didn’t. Some of us got together to talk about it. It turned out that a lot of cycling families and groups felt the same way we did. We extended some olive branches to teams that have been feeling like outsiders. The sort of vague, leaderless group ended up hatching a group volunteers excited about serving on the board to make it a wider, louder, more active advocacy organization.
I managed to get a spot on the nominating committee, and four days after that committee was established, we had a full slate of officers to nominate – mountain bikers, road racers, blog writers, trail builders. The April BACA meeting saw that group voted in, amid angry confusion and loudish cheering. It makes me smile to watch people do what they care about, and I’m looking forward to this year. I’m looking forward to having an advocacy group here in LR. I think they’ll accomplish great things, starting right about now.
I’ve been doing a ton of work with Little Rock’s bike friendly community committee, so when they offered me a chance to represent LR at the National Bike Summit this month, I was eager to go.
At the last minute my flight from LR to Dallas was cancelled, and I was rescheduled on a flight the next day. A day’s delay would have meant missing part of the conference, so somehow, with me standing at the ticket counter inside and Bryan in the truck looking up flights on his iPhone, I managed to get on a different airline’s flight to Chicago and then to Washington DC, right on time.
Continue reading “National Bike Summit 2012”
We’re a member of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and Bryan is one of their email lists that notifies interested people when a rail company files abandonment paperwork for a section of rail line. Thousands of miles of rail have been abandoned in the last few decades, and most have seen their rails and crossties sold for scrap and their corridors sold piecemeal to adjacent landowners. It’s handy for farmers and businessmen to have a little extra chunk of land, I suppose, but it means that the rail line can never be used again for anything of economic benefit to the whole community.
Rails to Trails aims to prevent this from happening. They send out a notice, along with information on how to file paperwork to preserve the rail corridor for use as a trail. It’s called “railbanking” and it’s a low-cost way for communities or organizations to preserve the corridor for a few months, so that they can make plans to use the space for a multi-use trail of some sort. They can use the space for a trail, with the understanding that if it’s ever needed again for rail transport, it can be easily converted back to that use. Continue reading “Caddo Valley Rail Line”
So somehow, somebody got the Mayor of Little Rock to agree to leave his car at home for a week and get around by bus and bike. He said he’d do some media stuff and really encourage people to join him in a car-free week. Great, said the Bike Friendly Community Committee.
Somehow, somebody (I really don’t think it was me) suggested that we hold a kind of educational event to teach practical skills so that people would feel more comfortable using their bikes for transportation. Somehow, I made suggestions about this event. And somehow I got put in charge of it. A Car-Free Learning Day. A Bike Fair. With three weeks to plan.
I made a list of twelve problems people might have when planning to ride a bike to work. I listed things like “Won’t People Think I’m Wierd?” and “How do I carry my stuff?” and “How do I Plan a Safe Route?” Continue reading “Bike Fair 2011”
Now that I’m on the city’s Bicycle Friendly Community Committee, I’m really trying to practice what the League of American Bicyclists preaches in terms of exercising the right to ride a bike on the road, while understanding the responsibilities cyclists have to keep ourselves and others safe. I hadn’t taken the League’s traffic safety course in quite awhile, and Mandy’s never taken it, so we decided to enroll in the September group.
Only one other student participated. Our teachers were Tom and Brad. Mandy learned a lot, and my memory was refreshed. I think putting time and effort into this sort of thing is well worth it for everybody involved.
After the riding part of class concluded on Saturday, our class met up with Mitch and his kids for a bike-and-unicycle lunch at the Rivermarket, and we rode around downtown for awhile. The area around the Rivermarket is such fun for unicycling, with lots of paths and bridges and people to look impressed by dads and their kids riding along on one wheel as if it’s the easiest thing in the world.
It’s National Bike Month! All three of us rode to work/school this month at least once.
Bryan’s been getting things together to begin commuting to work on occasion. His goal is once a week through the summer months. His first commute went well, and he even established a safe and convenient bike-parking spot. He’s looking forward to many more commutes just like this one.
I commuted by bike to my annual two-day workshop in Ferndale. It’s about 15 miles, much of which is very curvy and hilly, on shoulderless roads. I enjoyed it so much I’ve done some research into the possibility of riding all the way into the university area in LR to my office. It’s farther but flatter, and with better shoulders, and if I time things right I can use Little Rock’s bus system for part of the trip. Stay tuned!
Mandy had to take her unicycle to school this week, and decided to make it into a one-wheel commuting day. I let her out of the car in a neighborhood near the school and she rode in on the unicycle, heavy school backpack and all. She stashed her wheel in her GT teacher’s classroom. And after school, she rode to a nearby park and alternately practiced riding and relaxed until we were able to pick her up.