April 4, 2012

What it is to be a Bike Advocate

As a snarky blogger about Biking in Columbus, I probably am unable to describe myself as a bike advocate. However, I do write about bicycling and give advice about bicycling when I'm not talking about watching Battlestar Galactica. But overall, what does it mean to be a bike advocate?

First and foremost, bicycling is the best way to advocate right now. According to the 2010 American Community Survey 1-year estimates, only 0.7% of people in Columbus over the age of 16 commuted using bicycles. That works out to be 2655 people commuting via bicycle in Columbus. That's not that many people. The more cyclists people see, the more that people will realize that bike infrastructure may be necessary.

Secondly, you can talk to municipalities/politicians. Report to Columbus 311 that a traffic light doesn't detect bicycles, or that there are massive potholes, or that there is a water line leak which is getting your feet wet while biking. Contact Senator Rob PortmanSenator Sherrod Brown, or ODOT Director Jerry Wray, that it's time for bicyclists to get a larger, dedicated stream of revenue.

Finally, there are two Columbus bicycle advocacy groups, Yay Bikes! and Consider Biking. I've discussed both groups before but it's good to have advocacy groups on the ground with the goal of increasing to our 0.7% bike share mode.

One last thing I want to point out is that there can be disagreements with anyone. There are arguments about whether a round-about or left-turn lane should be installed in Clintonville. There's debate on what an individual mandate and penalty means. The point is that sensible people can have different ideas on how best to address issues, however, we shouldn't lose sight on the ultimate goal of getting more people to bicycle. That's why a comment like the following is disheartening:
"If you call yourself a bicycle advocate and are not in favor of bike share, then you are not a bicycle advocate."
This line of reasoning does not compute for me. With limited funds, it's reasonable to prefer money be spent on other initiatives be it bike lanes, multi-use paths, pedestrian/bicycle bridges, etc. And that's coming from some one who was receptive of the initial Columbus bike share siting locations.

Instead, we should ask all bicycle advocates to start biking regularly. If they're not biking, we should figure out why and if there's a way to get them started. And if they are unable, maybe they can still help towards getting non-bike advocates to start biking.

Cool original-video-game-bicycle-advocate-Paper-Boy link of the day:
(D'oh! He rides on the sidewalk!)


  1. Most cities aren't spending much (if any) money on bike sharing systems. Private companies are running it in exchange for ad revenue. Some cities are actually getting a cut of the revenue and making money on bike sharing systems. I'm not sure Columbus is a big enough ad market to get a free system, but it might be cheaper than you think.

    1. My main point was that acceptance of bike shares is not a precondition for being a bike advocate. As I linked to, I am supportive of the initial planning done by Consider Biking and am unconcerned with costs until they're announced.

      And since I believe that taxes are meant to be spent on something, I'll take the extra expenditures on bicycles. My main concern initially was the capital costs but it appears that there have been a lot of grants available so far for other areas.

      As far as comparing this expense to bike shelters which I was somewhat less receptive, this would put actual bikes in people's hands if they so choose to use them. I like that idea.


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