AdvocacyAl Brody - Advocacy Dude!
June Siple coined the name Bikecentennial a few months later as the Hemistour progressed through Mexico. Many of the initial contacts made by the Hemistour group to promote their idea came from Greg and Dan's participation in the Tour of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) in Ohio, founded by Siple and his father in 1962. The Bikecentennial route crossed ten states and 112 counties in either direction between Reedsport, OR, and Yorktown, VA, a distance of about 4,250 miles. Dan Burden, although he will tell you he is a photographer by trade, is still one of the world's preeminent bike advocates. He uses photos of existing streets and with PhotoShop skills, illustrates to community members what is possible to make public space work better for all users.
Greg Siple is the photographer for the Adventure Cycling Association. If you have ever been to their office in Missoula, Montana, you probably got a chance to meet Greg. If you arrived by bike, he may have taken your photo. If you get a chance, you can thank Greg for influencing at least the name and possibly the concept for CSCC's Tour of the Arkansas River Valley (TOARV) which has evolved into the Buena Vista Bike Festival.
Now, fast forward a few years to 1984 - Summer Olympics in Los Angeles where Team USA cyclists won 4 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals. Leap to 1986, when America's 7-Eleven cycling team would capture the coveted yellow jersey of the Tour de France and Greg LeMond would become the first American to win the Tour. From the mid 1970s to the mid 1980s, the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic had grown into Colorado's own Coor's Classic which is considered by many, the most successful and dramatic stage race in American history. In 1988, Team 7-11 won the the Giro d'Italia. Here are the names of the racers: Davis Phinney, Ron Kiefel, Andy Hampsten, Bob Roll; and the team organizers: Jim Ochowicz and Eric Heiden. Recognize any names?
Couple a growing, nationally recognized bike touring event with international racing success and you have a prescription for a recreational bike club in Colorado Springs. Bike advocacy evolved because of the enthusiasm for riding more and the desire to improve cycling's convenience, comfort, and safety. Around 2001, a group of concerned, local cyclists got together and created the Pikes Peak Area Bikeways Coalition. Because of the negative connotation vehicular cyclists have with the word "bikeways", the name was changed to Bike Colorado Springs (BCS). The Trails and Open Space Coalition was a potential home for this advocacy effort, but CSCC offered a leaner and meaner organizational structure for volunteer bike advocacy, and that is where BCS has remained.
BCS has managed to influence a few things which have significantly improved cycling in Colorado Springs. The fundamental achievement was having Colorado Springs adopt a Complete Streets policy which requires all new construction to accommodate rather than just consider all road users. Encouraging city staff to apply for and then earn the League of American Bicyclists, Bicycle Friendly Community Award (Silver Level) provided a framework for improvement. Advocacy has worked to get millions of dollars spent on trail and infrastructure improvements through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority, Safe Routes to School funding and our city bike tax. Updating transportation plans and publishing the city's bicycle map are additional achievements we can all be proud of.
Much of bike advocacy is showing up at public input sessions and transportation related meetings to provide the cyclists perspective. Advocacy takes time and patience. Progress seems to happen at glacial speeds with occasional bursts of activity. As bike club members, rest assured that advocates are working behind the scenes to ensure sustained progress. You can try bike advocacy by attending transportation related events and providing your input.
Bicycling has come far in the past 25 years. The Colorado Springs Cycling Club can be proud of the accomplishments made during that time. As you ride around Colorado Springs, take a moment to appreciate how our infrastructure has improved. Sixty five years from now, our nation will celebrate the tricentennial. I'll coin the name "Trikecentennial. What should it look like? What will you do to make it so?