Bike Advocacy in Three Easy Steps

Get involved with increasing bike accessibility and safety in your neighborhood.

This post is in partnership with the CLIF Bar 2-Mile Challenge

Once you start making biking a part of your regular routine, becoming a bicycle advocate or activist often occurs naturally. When you're out on the road, things that need improvement on roads and bike paths become apparent, or the urge to join group cycles kicks in. Those raring to get involved just need to follow three easy steps.


Many cycling advocates are already raising awareness about cycling without even thinking about it. “Becoming an advocate for cycling is as simple as riding your bike to work, school or while running errands,” says Meghan Cahill, the Director of Communications for the League of American Bicyclists.


Being part of a group often makes activities like cycling even more enjoyable, whether it’s through organized rides or working towards common goals. “An important thing to do is support and join your local bike advocacy organization,” says Keith Laughlin, President of Rails to Trails Conservancy. “Most of America’s major cities and most of our states have organizations that promote cycling.”

Taking part in a club or group’s events is a great way to spread the love for and knowledge about cycling. (Find some national and local organizations here.) Beyond having fun, many of these same organizations also work towards improving cycling conditions and safety. “In-depth advocacy programs help with everything from local issues and work to getting laws on the books that help bicycling be included in the transportation system,” says Cahill.


Can’t find a cycling organization in your area? “Start your own,” says Allison Mannos, Urban Strategy Director of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “Start s­mall. Then begin learning if there’s a bicycle advisory committee in your city, who’s who in your Department of Transportation’s bike department and re­searching whether your city has a bicycle master plan.”


Speak out, whether with a group or on your own. Tactical advocacy is as simple as contacting the Department of Transportation to report dangerous conditions, unresponsive lights, debris or potholes. “One of the most important ways that Transportation Alternatives works with volunteers is connecting citizens to the civic and political processes that have an impact on transportation,” says Caroline Samponara, the Director of Bicycle Advocacy for this New York-based organization. “The difference between bike lane or no bike lane and safer streets for walking is really just voices in the rooms of these forums that care about seeing progress made. It could simply be that no one’s ever asked for that bike lane before.”

Beyond accomplishing improved conditions, something else usually happens along the way, too. “What we’ve learned in San Francisco is that strong advocacy and well-organized and passionate people can make a real difference,” says Leah Shahum, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition’s executive director. “In our city, we’ve seen some significant changes, including 58% more people bicycling in the last four years.” Shahum says stats like these aren’t uncommon. “From our experience, it has a lot to do with strong advocacy successfully improving bicycling by making it more comfortable, safe and inviting.”

Read more about urban biking in our GOOD Guide to Biking for the Planet.

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The problem with American Sign Language (ASL) is that over 500,000 people in the U.S. use it, but the country has over 330 million people.

So for those with hearing loss, the chances of coming into contact with someone who uses the language are rare. Especially outside of the deaf community.

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Looking back, the year 1995 seems like such an innocent time. America was in the midst of its longest streak of peace and prosperity. September 11, 2001 was six years away, and the internet didn't seem like much more than a passing fad.

Twenty-four years ago, 18 million U.S. homes had modem-equipped computers, 7 million more than the year before. Most logged in through America Online where they got their email or communicated with random strangers in chat rooms.

According to a Pew Research study that year, only 32% of those who go online say they would miss it "a lot" if no longer available.

Imagine what those poll numbers would look like if the question was asked today.

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"Few see online activities as essential to them, and no single online feature, with the exception of E-Mail, is used with any regularity," the Pew article said. "Consumers have yet to begin purchasing goods and services online, and there is little indication that online news features are changing traditional news consumption patterns."

"Late Night" host David Letterman had Microsoft founder and, at that time the richest man in the world, on his show for an interview in '95 to discuss the "the big new thing."

During the interview Letterman chided Gates about the usefulness of the new technology, comparing it to radio and tape recorders.

Gates seems excited by the internet because it will soon allow people to listen to a baseball game on their computer. To which Letterman smugly replies, "Does radio ring a bell?" to laughter from the crowd.

But Gates presses Letterman saying that the new technology allows you to listen to the game "whenever you want," to which Letterman responds, "Do tape recorders ring a bell?"

Gates then tells Letterman he can keep up with the latest in his favorite hobbies such as cigar smoking or race cars through the internet. Letterman shuts him down saying that he reads about his interests in magazines.

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The discussion ends with the two laughing over meeting like-minded people in "troubled loner chat room on the internet."

The clip brings to mind a 1994 segment on "The Today Show" where host Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric have a similar discussion.

"What is internet anyway?" an exasperated Gumball asks. "What do you write to it like mail?"

"It's a computer billboard but it's nationwide and it's several universities all joined together and it's getting bigger and bigger all the time," a producer explains from off-stage.

Photo by Li-An Lim on Unsplash

The future generations will have to live on this Earth for years to come, and, not surprisingly, they're very concerned about the fate of our planet. We've seen a rise in youth activists, such as Greta Thunberg, who are raising awareness for climate change. A recent survey indicates that those efforts are working, as more and more Americans (especially young Americans) feel concerned about climate change.

A new CBS News poll found that 70% of Americans between 18 and 29 feel climate change is a crisis or a serious problem, while 58% of Americans over the age of 65 share those beliefs. Additionally, younger generations are more likely to feel like it's their personal responsibility to address climate change, as well as think that transitioning to 100% renewable energy is viable. Overall, 25% of Americans feel that climate change is a "crisis," and 35% feel it is a "serious problem." 10% of Americans said they think climate change is a minor problem, and 16% of Americans feel it is not a problem that worries them.

The poll found that concern for the environment isn't a partisan issue – or at least when it comes to younger generations. Two-thirds of Republicans under the age of 45 feel that addressing climate change is their duty, sentiments shared by only 38% of Republicans over the age of 45.

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