BikePGH hits the road for the National Bike Summit 2024

We met with elected leaders to advocate for change on the national level, pedaled through DC cycling infrastructure, and brought home a big picture purpose

Last week, several of us from Bike Pittsburgh took a road trip to the National Bike Summit, an annual event hosted by the League of American Bicyclists in Washington, DC. This gathering brought together advocates, cycling enthusiasts,  policymakers, educators, and industry leaders from across the nation to learn from each other and strategize to advance the movement for safer streets for all road users.

The event was a great opportunity to collectively inspire one another and put our heads together for how to keep the momentum going for safer biking and walking in communities across America. Each day, we were fortunate to hear from awesome speakers, further our connections with cycling organizations, ride through DC cycling infrastructure, and talk shop about bikes and the safer design of our streets.. What more could anyone ask for!

Mobile workshops taught us about DC’s bike infrastructure – like the District’s growing protected bike lane network, neighborhood bikeways, and the colorful Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT), a unique multi use trail with 2,000+ users per day.

We heard from speakers Veronica O. Davis, author of Inclusive Transportation, Shailen Bhatt, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, Erick Cedeño, the Bicycle Nomad, and many others. 

There’s also a lot to be said about this year’s National Bike Summit theme – “Slow Roads are Safe Roads.” This theme is indicative of the way that many of us in this movement have come to holistically approach road safety. It’s not just all about bike lanes anymore, it’s about the complex interplay of various factors affecting the safety of our streets. It’s about slowing down so that people can be safer outside and inside of the car. When we design Complete Streets with traffic calming and the safety of all road users in mind, the bike lane becomes a logical component to add, rather than the sole focal point. And in this way, more people can come to understand the benefits of making roads work for everyone– slowing down drivers, adding in pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, and ultimately getting more people choosing active transportation.

Beyond networking and workshops

After a stopover at the Philly Bike Expo to volunteer at and learn from the Kids Zone organized by The Early Childhood Mobility Coalition, BikePGH’s Education department (Ted) was excited to network with and learn from other educators across the country as well as learn about the League’s new Youth and Adult learn to ride curriculum from the experienced educators at BikeNY and WABA (Washington Area Bicyclist Association). We’d also like to say cheers to our good friend Diana Hildebrand from Bike Cleveland for being awarded Educator of the Year, a well-deserved honor!

And while we all explored topics on bike safety, accessibility, history, and education with people from around the country at the Summit, some beautiful things began to happen: In real time and in multiple instances each and every day,  one person would express a need within their organization and another member of the panel or sometimes audience would present a solution, helpful anecdote, or words of wisdom. In one example, an attendee who is a college student was lamenting the lack of diversity in his university’s cycling club at the session “Community First: Building Representation in Cycling Culture.” Between the group, productive connections were made with Major Taylor Kidz, among others, and next steps were paved for addressing and coming to potential solutions for each group’s obstacles in representation and interconnectivity. This kind of interaction played out again and again each day. It was motivating to be connected under so many shared common goals across state lines as well as industries. And, might I add, it was especially energizing to actually see everyone’s faces and make these connections in person!

Making our voices heard on Capitol Hill

For Lobby Day we visited the Capitol to make the case for safer streets. Under the guidance of the League of American Bicyclists, Summit attendees from each state set up meetings with their Representatives and Senators to discuss this year’s Lobby Day “Asks.”

Our big big group from Pennsylvania consisted of BikePGH + our friends from Friends of the Riverfront, Sam Pearson/PA Downtown Center, Alison Treaster/, Robin Woods/Women@Work Cycling Club, Jaden Luscher, Neil Walker,  and the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. We met with our elected leaders on the state and federal level to make the case for a safer streets bill, and to get more federal funding for policies like Vision Zero and Complete Streets. This is especially important for us here in Pittsburgh, given that our City recently committed to Vision Zero and passed the resolution, so it’s all hands on deck to make this a success to end road fatalities. 

Let’s keep celebrating wins for safer streets! Every donation to BikePGH helps keep the momentum going for this important movement.

Thank you to the offices of U.S. Senator Bob Casey, John Fetterman, Rep. Deluzio, and Rep. Summer Lee for giving your attention to these issues and the work we’re doing to make our streets safer and more accessible for all. We’re continuing the relationships we built at last year’s Bike Summit Lobby Day and making progress to make sure our leaders are prioritizing road safety when it comes to the flow of federal funds and voting on bills in Congress that are going to protect all road users. 

Thank you also to the League of American Cyclists for providing Lobby Day resources to help everyone get the most out of this opportunity to speak with our elected officials in Congress.

The big picture

When you’re an advocacy organization and there’s so much passion behind the work you do, it’s entirely possible to get bogged down with day-to-day work and hyper-local happenings. And that’s all fine and good! But, you can indeed get caught in the minutiae and lose sight of the big picture when you’re wading through and *harvesting the grass* of grassroots activism. Attending the Bike Summit was a good reminder that we’re all in this together on a national level, and we can be leaning on each other for resources, offering valuable perspectives, advice, and experiences.

We have a lot to gain from one another by opening up channels of communication and strategizing on the big picture– How can we learn from Brookline, Massachusetts’ Complete Streets Policy implementation?  What lesson did Bike Cleveland learn that can also be helpful for the Nevada Bicycle Coalition? How can BikePGH’s education materials be useful for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association and other organizations? And so on.

That’s all to say… working together and sharing our strategies means we can reach even bigger goals, and as always, the National Bike Summit was a great catalyst for doing just that.

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