ENSURING A VOICE FOR YOUTH: Atlanta Students Advocating For Pedestrians
In 2013, the League released “Engaging Youth In Bicycle Advocacy”, a case study on why youth bike and youth involvement in bicycle advocacy is so important as we build a future that is better for biking. A lot of the obstacles to youth engagement noted in the study, like a lack of bike accessibility and a disconnect between adults and youth when it comes to leadership, are still prevalent today. Many organizations, including the League itself, can better educate themselves on how to not only get more youth involved in biking but make sure young bicyclists feel recognized as an integral part of the bicycling movement.
As part of that work to listen, learn, and collaborate, we endeavored to hear from organizations made for youth and/or guided by youth to best answer the question of how to do this. In a continuing series, we’ll learn more about these groups and their answers. Today, meet the Atlanta Students Advocating for Pedestrians (ASAP). Read our previous blogs here.
We are the Atlanta Students Advocating for Pedestrians (ASAP), a student-led and directed club out of Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia, aimed at creating a safe environment for pedestrians, especially students. We give a platform for students to voice their concerns and to work with government and non-governmental organizations to create a change in their communities. We use transportation not only as a way to get somewhere but as a way to improve the environment, address equity, impact health, and more.
In our recent work, we advocated for changes to the intersection near our high school resulting in the improvement of the walk signals, crosswalks and light timing. We worked with the City and a “HAWK” (High-Intensity Activated CrossWalk) signal was installed at the entrance to our school allowing pedestrians to cross safely from the bike lane. We are currently in the final stage of a redesign of our school parking lot to include a walk lane. In addition, we recently worked with Free Bikes 4 Kidz to get more kids access to bikes. In partnering with the National Youth Bike Council and Atlanta bike shops on a “Spring Back on Bikes” program, we gave free bike repairs to students.
What would you like to see other groups, especially national organizations, doing to involve more youth in bike advocacy and cycling?
Creating more programs where youth can have hands-on experience, such as Free Bikes 4 Kidz where youth are working on repairing bicycles and are helping those who need bikes get them at no charge. When kids can see the impact of their work and advocacy it keeps them engaged, connected to the community and to the work. It gives them a sense of control and empowerment.
For instance, we advertise ASAP as more of an advocacy group, not just a biking group, because transportation advocacy is a great place to learn how government and advocacy work. Not only can we see a physical change in our environment but also the community is very supportive and that impacts many other fields such as health, environment, equity, etc. This dual approach has created a “big tent” bringing in diverse kids with diverse interests and skills. Many students care about many issues, but the day-to-day life of a biker or walker is something everyone knows and can imagine being different. It is immediately local while tied to critical global issues like climate change.
If you’re a youth group or cycling organization interested in sharing your tips for involving more youth in cycling, reach out to us at [email protected]. We would love to hear from you!