Riding through this together
At the core of the League’s vision for a Bicycle Friendly America are healthy, sustainable, and vibrant communities. With the continued spread of COVID-19, the need to build places that support everyone’s access to healthy, safe, activity-friendly ways to get to everyday destinations has come into sharp focus.
As we look to the year ahead, the League is more passionate than ever about removing barriers to biking in our country, for everyone. Biking is quite literally a lifeline for so many of us during this time—whether it’s the primary way we commute to essential jobs, the way we relieve stress and decompress after being cooped up in our homes, or the way our kids get much-needed exercise when schools are closed and so many other options are off of the table. We know bikes unite us, even as we are so physically separated.
Others are seeing, too, what we have known for so long: bikes are a simple solution to many of the biggest challenges facing our communities and country. This incredible vehicle we love so much not only moves us to the places we want to go but towards connected communities, healthier lives, and addressing climate change. Knowing that the work we’re doing is having this kind of social impact helps us all press on with more energy to go the extra mile in our communities, to still show up at that next meeting even though it may be online, to write that letter to your city council, or to find a way to teach that class remotely. We are all adjusting to the challenges that come with so many abrupt changes to our normal way of life, but we can’t let this stop us from getting out and riding by ourselves, with our families, and doing whatever we can to help other people do the same.
The League staff has been working diligently to ensure that our movement does not lose momentum. Earlier this month, due to the anticipated spread of COVID-19, the League made the decision to shift the 2020 National Bike Summit from an in-person gathering to an online conference. Instead of canceling the event altogether, we dove into the deep end of digital conferencing, virtual happy hours and creative online networking. And while nothing can fully replace the value of our physical gatherings and rides, we were blown away by the engagement and enthusiasm of attendees. We are deeply grateful to all of the speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and attendees—and our phenomenal staff—who mobilized and pivoted so quickly to ensure that the 2020 Summit was a success.
This year’s Summit provided much-needed focus for all of us at this unprecedented time of uncertainty. We all relished the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, make new friends, and learn new bike advocacy and education tactics. We took joy in recognizing the good work of our peers and decision makers, and amplified our voices on Capitol Hill as we pushed together for common sense improvements to the policies and funding that makes bicycling better for all across the country. For those of you who registered, but couldn’t be with us, all of the sessions, keynotes, and more are available online, as well as new content coming throughout the next month.
On the policy side, we will be continuing to build on our successes on Capitol Hill to get the best possible transportation bill reauthorization—not just more funding for safe, connected networks and delivering safety education, but for systematic improvements to our transportation system. We will also be working diligently to make sure that building better bicycling networks, which we know creates jobs locally and produces an increase in biking places, are part of any economic relief package. We learned what can be done virtually with this Summit so we will be continuing to support our network of individuals, businesses, local and state organizations, League Cycling Instructors, and partner organizations through these digital engagement efforts.
That said, we think you should get out on the bike. Then, channel the joy and privilege of biking into making it easier for people in your communities and across the country to do the same—now and for a better future. There is much joy to be found on our streets and paths these days, and we take comfort in seeing many discovering or rediscovering their love of bicycling as they also start to see their cities and their neighbors from a new perspective. As always, we are dedicated to the safety of our members, partners, staff and communities, so we encourage keeping safe distances and following the recommendations of the CDC.
Fundamentally, the League believes that people should always be able to get around safely by bike. We believe everyone should have a right to “Bike There,” wherever that “there” may be. This will be our theme as we celebrate National Bike Month in May, and we want to encourage everyone to think beyond biking to work and move towards a holistic approach to integrating bicycling into as many aspects of our daily lives as possible.
This week, we were planning to roll out a new campaign, “Bikes Unite”. Truly more than ever, our shared joy in bikes unites us. It is easy to feel isolated today, but know that each of us is connected through our bike community. Please stay tuned to the League’s digital media and ready to take action for better bicycling for all. You can also still register to access Summit content, share riding tips and videos with friends, and go for a ride! Please also consider continued support for the League as well as your local bike shops, advocacy groups, and Bicycle Friendly Businesses. You can find these in your area on our Connect Locally map. Thanks for pedaling with us and powering the work to build a truly bicycle-friendly America for everyone.