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Summit Big Idea: Bikes + Books

Riding and reading already have a lot in common. Laura Silver, a media project associate from Transportation Alternatives in New York City, puts it perfectly: “Bikes and books both offer adventure, self-sufficiency and a chance to explore new horizons.”

So what happens when you combine the two activities? Big ideas emerge. 

In fact, several of the Big Idea presentations at this year’s National Bike Summit focus on new types of partnerships and innovative ways to make our message connect with new audiences. Here’s a preamble to some of the page-turning ideas you’ll hear at the Summit — and, perhaps, borrow for your community!

A National Bikes and Books Movement
Laura Silver, Transportation Alternatives

Bikes and books both offer adventure, self-sufficiency and a chance to explore new horizons. Pages and pedals both offer freedom and require a degree of know-how.

Some freewheeling partnerships between bikes and books already exist: the Brooklyn Public Library has hosted a Bike the Branches event for two years running (pictured right). The 15th Annual Bike the Bend Bend ride for [Adult] Literacy will take place in Texas this November. The Seattle Public Library launched the Books on Bikes programs to bring a pedal-powered selection of reading material to community events. Ditto libraries in Denver, Boulder and Pima County, Arizona.

Bikes and books both depend on know-how, and in many cases, privilege. Let’s roll out a national — then international — Bikes and Books movement that dismantles barriers to literacy, and encourages access to derailleurs for people of diverse socio-economic backgrounds. Let’s create a vehicle for members of communities with traditionally low bike rates to become conversant in wheels and in words. Possible bike-book collaborations include library-bike share partnerships, reading lists for eager pedalers of all ages and writing workshops that encourage people to write about their experiences on two wheels.

Library Bike Shop Initiative
Emily Weak, Mountain View Public Library

Public libraries are an exciting partner for growing bicycling. Libraries provide lifelong learning opportunities and shared resources. As government agencies that directly serve the public and value broad accessibility, libraries are an excellent gateway into working with a city or county.

Libraries are already creating bike-related programming. I’m a librarian in Mountain View. Here in the rapidly densifying heart of Silicon Valley, we’re supporting our city’s commitment to improving bike access with our Library Bike Stop initiative.

We installed a Dero Fixit station, providing 24-hour access to a repair stand, air, and tools (pictured right). We also embarked on a programming series to share skills in everything from urban cycling to making bike lights out of tin cans, and led a bike tour of Silicon Valley libraries. Other libraries, such as those in Seattle and Los Angeles, have acquired Bikebraries, modified bikes that transport library resources to special events.

My presentation will focus on possibilities for working with libraries to provide services and educational support for the growing bike movement. I will show off some of the programs and resources that libraries are already providing, and provide insight into how cyclists might forge library partnerships in their own communities.

A Bicycle Video “Storybook”
Nancy Tibbett, Bicycle Indiana

Bicycle Indiana is developing a video “storybook” working with a local company, Cantaloupe. The purpose of the storybook is two-fold: Educate motorists about bicyclists on roadways and humanize the person on the bicycle to the motorist.

Cantaloupe interviewed numerous candidates and decided on two. A single mom with three kids whose sole transportation is by bike (hers and her children’s) and an Indianapolis Bicycle Patrol Officer. This format will be easy to distribute with social media, workplace wellness programs and more more. The storybook ends with a motorist pledge to be more aware of bicyclists on the roads.

Learn more about this impactful video and other book-inspired efforts — register for the Summit today!

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