If you’ve been anywhere near a TV in the last few months, you’ve seen the screaming faces and impassioned pandering that can only mean one thing – it’s election season in America. But making the world a better place doesn’t have to involve billions in SuperPAC money, cheerleading media organizations, or shady electoral practices, sometimes it’s just about a bunch of people with a common vision coming together to improve what we’ve got.
In today’s post, let’s take a look at the organizations that strive to make biking better for everyone, and how you can turn your leftover political passion into positive change!
There’s no better place to start than right at home. All around the country, local bike organizations fight for rider rights, routes, and improving the safety of everyone on the road. Here in LA, we’ve got the LACBC to thank for tirelessly fighting for us in the car-centric city, and Calbike for keeping the heat on Sacramento.
They’re both awesome orgs and, if you’re local, deserve your support. But if you call somewhere else home, find your local advocacy groups and get to action! A quick search for “[Your City] [Your State] Bike Advocacy” should be enough to turn up your local groups, and they’re almost always looking for activists and volunteers to help make your town better for bikes! Find out what you can do to help and start making the system work for you.
Create Great Rides
One of the best things you can do to make biking safer is to get more people riding. The more people that experience the world on two wheels, the more likely they are to be expecting bikes on the road, to drive more conscientiously behind the wheel, and to understand the perspective of riders not encased in 3500 pounds of steel.
One organization that does a ton of work for creating rideable spaces is the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. For years they’ve been converting old, unused, railroad tracks across the US into bike trails that reconnect people along once forgotten routes. The Iron Horse Trail in NorCal was a staple of bike life as a kid, and many of our employees today enjoy commuting on the Chandler Bikeway in Burbank, another successful RtT conversion.
Check out their site to find the trails nearest you, and to see what you can do to help make more routes into a reality!
Lobby Like the Big Boys
I think we can all agree that lobbying and money’s influence over politics is a disgrace to democratic ideals. But, since car companies, the oil industry, etc… all get to use their dollars to drown out your votes – you might as well fight back.
National advocacy organizations like People for Bikes and the League of American Bicyclists take the battle to Washington. Educating lawmakers, policy writers, and the public on the best ways to catch up with the rest of the world road-safety-wise is a valuable service. And trying to counteract some of the billions in lobbying dollars dumped on our politicians by those that value profits over safety is a nice bonus too.
They’re always working on new ways to improve biking around the country and need all the help they can get.
And most importantly, ride your bike. Every time you push the pedals in public, you make the community more aware and boost the safety of all the other local riders.
Saving money, cutting pollution, looking damn cool – those are all just ancillary benefits to the best part of riding a bike, it’s pure fun. When’s the last time you heard someone describe their car commute that way?
So get out there! Make your city, state, and country a better place. And enjoy the ride.