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Jeff Peel on the State of Bicycling

In celebration of May as National Bike Month, we are asking League staff members why they ride and how they make the most of Bike Month.

Next up is State and Local Advocacy Coordinator, Jeff Peel.

Jeff profile pic

Hi Jeff, What’s your favorite Bike Month memory?

When I worked at WABA as Program Manager, Bike to Work Day was the only day I would drive to work in a rented truck full of folding tables, pop-up tents and other event supplies. After a few years of cold and rainy Bike to Work Days, the last few years of pleasant, sunny mornings with thousands of bike commuters at Freedom Plaza have shown firsthand how much bicycling has grown in DC. It’s a similar story across the country.

How did you celebrate Bike Month this year?

I celebrated by helping encourage others to get out and ride! I’ve been to PA Walks & Bikes Summit, Memphis Club Leadership Training and Dayton at the Miami Valley Cycling Summit representing the League.

If I am an advocate working at the state level, what are the three most important things I can do to improve bicycling in my state?

1)Understand the funding process: Knowing how transportation money flows and influencing your Long Range Plan and state and regional Transportation Improvement Program project lists is critical. This is how bike lanes, highway shoulders, trails and the like actually get built.

2)Pass Complete Streets: A Complete Streets policy, resolution, legislation, etc. doesn’t magically transform your state’s roadways instantly, but it gives you one heck of a tool to ensure that they will end up that way.

3) Ride your bike: Encouraging more people to ride for transportation and recreation is one of the easiest and best things an advocate can do. Plan rides large and small- it’s what Bike Month is all about! The numbers show that the more people riding, the safer we all are. More people riding creates more demand for better facilities and improved traffic enforcement. In places where there isn’t a lot of political support for bicycling, it can give you the groundswell needed to push for changes.

Why do you ride your bike?

I hate waiting for the bus. I hate being stuck in traffic. Bicycling gives me the freedom to go when and where I want, under my own power and on my own schedule.

What tips do you have for new bike commuters?

I think the biggest mental hurdle for new bike commuters is realizing that your safest, most enjoyable bike route likely isn’t the same way you’d drive to your destination. Every community has great neighborhood streets with low traffic volumes and slow speeds that are good for bicycling. I have the opposite problem. I drive so infrequently now that rather than take fast arterial roads, I tend to drive my bike routes, making my car trips longer than they need to be.

What do you typically wear to ride?

On road rides, my Arrow Bicycle kit. Otherwise, it’s just normal clothes that my good friend Mikael would hopefully approve of.

What your favorite bike you’ve ever owned?

Is this a trick question? There’s been so many. I’ve loved them all…most of them anyways. My Ahearne single speed 29’er was probably the most fun. The Rivendell Romulus probably saw the most miles. Bikes are great, but they’re just tools. My favorite bike is the one that gets me home today.

Thanks, Jeff!

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