We all know and understand the vast benefits that cycling can instill upon our personal fitness, communities and environment. In an effort bolster and expand cycling’s positive influence on society and the environment, The League of American Bicyclists has recently expanded its Bicycle Friendly Businesses (BFB) program. Comprised of nearly 1300 businesses in 49 states, the BSB program works with businesses ranging from local mom-and-pop companies to Fortune 500 corporations to, “[recognize] their efforts to encourage a more welcoming atmosphere for bicycling employees, customers, and the community.”
In announcing forty two new and renewing business in the BFB program, League Executive Director Alex Doty praises the efforts of business that actively appreciate the importance of relevance of cycling. “As these businesses make bicycling a safe and convenient option for transportation and recreation they play a vital role in transforming our nation into a safer, healthier and more sustainable place to live and work.”
Business can be awarded four levels (bronze, sliver, gold and platinum) of recognition, depending on their commitment to the promotion of cycling for employees, customers and community. Businesses of any shape and size are welcome to participate. Examples of companies in the BSB include:
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital – Memphis, TN
A new Silver-level member of the BSB, St. Jude offers a Bike to Work Day, group rides and a bike share program. Lindsey Swann, Wellness Program Manager explains, “St. Jude values its bicycle-friendly initiatives as important to employee recruitment and retention. It encourages healthy living; mental and physical wellness; employee morale; stress-relief and productivity.”
University of Minnesota
By subsidizing bike share membership, offering financial incentives for cycling commuters and cycling support services on-campus, the University of Minnesota is a returning Platinum-level member of the BSB. According to Steve Sanders, Alternative Transportation Manager, “Employees who bicycle are valued, and our team activities have increased camaraderie and cohesion in multiple units of the University. The University is a better place because of our support for all aspects of bicycling.”
If you’re curious to find (and support!) local businesses in your area that are cycling-friendly, the League of American Bicyclists has created a really cool interactive map to help you identify those companies. Click here to check it out.Tweet Print
Courtesy of the League of American Bicyclists
Today, the League of American Bicyclists has awarded 100 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Businesses [pdf] in 31 states and Washington, D.C.
With this announcement, the program has grown to include 1,050 visionary local businesses, government agencies and Fortune 500 companies [pdf] from across the country that are changing the script on what it means to provide a top-notch experience and atmosphere for employees and customers alike. There are now BFBs in 47 states and DC. Rotating Mass Media, parent company of Bicycle Times and our sister magazine, Dirt Rag, is proud to be a Gold Level BFB since 2013.
The new Platinum-level BFBs certified this year are Sonos Inc. of Santa Barbara, California, Partners for Active Living from Spartanburg, South Carolina, Quality Bicycle Products West from Ogden, Utah, and Trek Travel from Madison, Wisconsin.
“The business community’s investment in bicycling is playing a central role in making the country a safer, happier, and more sustainable place to live and work,” said Amelia Neptune, League Bicycle Friendly Business Program Manager. “We applaud this new round of businesses for leading the charge in creating a bicycle-friendly America for everyone.”
Bicycle Friendly Businesses encourage a more bicycle-friendly atmosphere for employees and customers alike. BFBs attract and retain energized, alert and productive employees, while decreasing healthcare costs.
The Architect of the Capitol, which employs 2,300 staff and oversees the maintenance and operation of all congressional buildings and land throughout Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., received a Bronze award this round.
The government agency, among other advancements, has been working collaboratively with the Congressional Bike Caucus to share information throughout the Capitol campus, and has helped to restart the Federal Interagency Bike Working Group as a means to share best practices within the federal community.
“We are so pleased to make the U.S. Capitol campus a more welcoming place for biking commuters and the visiting public,” said Architect of the Capitol, Stephen T. Ayers. “It is rewarding to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Business and to know that we have a passionate group of employees who implemented a cohesive program to achieve this recognition.”
Hewlett Packard has about 1,900 employees at its Fort Collins, Colorado, location. The new Bronze-level awardee hosts lunch-and-learn seminars on site, focusing on bicycling tips, such as winter riding, basic rules of the road and more.
“HP takes great pride in supporting community wellness and environmental protection,” Hewlett Packard in Fort Collins said in a statement. “We are proud to be part of the movement to make bicycling fun and safe for everyone.”
To apply or learn more about the BFB program, visit bikeleague.org/businesses.Tweet Print
His name is Mark Angeles.
He was 22.
Mark’s name shouldn’t be worth a mention in Bicycle Times, not because he wasn’t worthy of recognition—in fact he was recognized as one of the most distinguished students in his class at Reed College—but because he should be just another happy cyclist celebrating his graduation last week and the onset of summer.
Instead Mark is yet another cyclist killed by a driver in broad daylight. He has become something no cyclist wants to be: a statistic.
In what has been a particularly disheartening month for cyclists here in Portland, Mark was killed May 27 by a tow truck driver turning left in front of him, the third such “left hook” in the past few weeks.
On May 10, Alistair Corkett, a bike shop employee and budding racer had his leg severed when he was hit by a driver turning in front of him, and on May 22 David Garcia received a critical head injury when a driver turned left in front of him.
In a twisted turn of irony, Mark’s death came less than 24 hours after the mayor of Portland, Charlie Hales, hosted a Twitter “town hall” to answer questions about bicycle safety and infrastructure in the most “bike friendly” city in America, a title that has come into some well-deserved criticism in the past few months.
On its face the city seems to be at least trying to stem the bloodshed. It has adopted the Vision Zero project, an international effort to create road networks with zero fatalities or serious injuries. It was created in Sweden in 1997 and became popularized after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio embraced it in 2014.
The Vision Zero program is simple: “No loss of life is acceptable.” At least that is a universal truth that we can all agree on, right?
Mayor de Blasio’s steadfast dedication to safe streets in New York has been vilified by the local transit union, who has made it more than clear that they are unhappy that city bus drivers have been prosecuted for hitting and killing pedestrians. Since last year Six bus drivers have been arrested for violating a right-of-way law, but the Transit Workers Union Local 100 says they should be exempt from the law that makes it a crime to fail to yield and strike pedestrians or cyclists who are rightfully crossing a street with a signal.
“Bus operators should not be held accountable,” TWU 100 President John Samuelsen told CBS New York. Five of the six incidents that warrant arrest under this “unfair” law resulted in a pedestrian death. Talk about unfair.
Now never mind that the very existence of such a law seems outrageously unnecessary—how can it be that hitting a pedestrian who has the right of way isn’t already a crime?!—the union believes bus schedules are more important than safety, and has gone so far as to file a class action lawsuit against the mayor and city to revoke it.
While that nonsense works its way through the system, some folks are taking a stand against it. A couple here in Portland have decided to fight fire with fire by forming a political action committee to take an active role in fighting what they describe as “traffic violence apologists.” Instead of working within the system, Chris Anderson and Amy Subach say they will use any means available to expose and even replace politicians and other public figures that they believe are making streets unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians.
The self-appointed Vision Zero PAC will work nationally to challenge legislation, expose hypocrisy and debunk victim blaming. On its website it has a form that allows users to “nominate a future loser,” and it is offering a $200 reward for a photo of any New York City council members who oppose Vision Zero texting or talking on the phone while driving, which both violate New York state law.
So where does that leave us? Will cities embrace safety measures to allow its citizens to move about without the risk of loss of life? Hopefully. Will cars continue to hit and kill cyclists and pedestrians? Absolutely. Is there anything you or I can do about it? I don’t know.
I’m not afraid to admit that I feel unsafe nearly every time I ride a bike. It’s rare that I can make it from A to B without a car brushing past me too closely or even worse, deliberately swerving, honking, or harrassing me in some way. I hardly ever ride road bikes recreationally any more because of it, and even transportation riding has become less enjoyable. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way.
Within 24 hours of Mark’s death a ghost bike had been placed at the intersection where he died with a growing collection of flowers, photos and handwritten notes. I went to visit it yesterday and left feeling heartbroken and terrified. Not a quarter mile away I stopped at a four-way stop—much to the dismay of the men in a truck going the opposite way who had waited, assuming I would run the stop sign. After they waved me through I waved back and their reply succinctly summed up the attitude that is leading to injury and death.
“YOU’RE STILL AN ASSHOLE.”Tweet Print
For a lot of kids growing up in poverty, the world they know is only what’s directly in front of them. Pittsburgh attorney Mark Rubenstein was seeing young adults make the same mistakes and commit the same crimes as their parents and grandparents. He knew that if he could only expose them to the wider world it would give them a greater perspective on what they could achieve in life.
In 2006 he founded Pittsburgh Youth Leadership, a non-profit that would take at-risk kids from the city on all-expense-paid bicycle tours. Along the way the teens have learned invaluable leadership skills, perseverance, teamwork and how to challenge the world around them.
Since then the group has racked up more than 137,000 miles through 44 states. This summer the organization is planning a 3,000-mile journey from Oregon to New Jersey and filming a documentary of the trip. The film they hope to create a long the way, Conquering the Cycle, will hopefully inspire more teens to challenge themselves and reach for their dreams.
If you’re inspired by how far they’ve come, you can make a donation to Pittsburgh Youth Leadership on its website.Tweet Print
Photos courtesy of the North Natomas Transportation Management Association.
Donate a bike to a child and they will love to ride it, but teach a child how to build and maintain a bike and they will become a cyclist forever. That’s the mission behind the 50 Bikes For 50 Kids program, founded in Alaska and now in California. The annual event matches 50 local youths with teams of volunteers to assemble a bicycle for each child on the team. The volunteers aren’t bike shop owners or mechanics, rather they are local citizens who are often mechanical novices. Prior to the event, they meet with trained mechanics who show them the basics and then check their work for safety after the bicycle is complete. As it’s being built, the volunteers pass along this newfound knowledge to the kids who get hands-on lessons in mechanical skills, teamwork and cooperation. To participate, the kids are nominated by local youth organizations based on their trustworthiness, responsibility and other qualities.
The event began in Anchorage, Alaska, where it matched 251 kids with bikes. The extra was a student who wasn’t selected but heard about the event and attended anyway. The volunteers were so impressed with his enthusiasm they purchased a bike for him to work on. For the past three years the workshop has been held in Sacramento, California. There 647 volunteers have donated 2,391 hours of their time. Each year the event improves, with a new skills course added to the 2015 event held on January 15. Once their bikes were completed, students could learn basic bike safety with some on-bike practice.
The funding for the event has evolved over the years but the intent has stayed the same: an opportunity for organizations and businesses to help make cycling a part of a child’s future. A total of 48 organizations, businesses and individuals donated in some way to the 2015 event. The Specialized Community Grant Program and the Natomas Bike Shop subsidized the bicycles so sponsorships could be “sold” for $250. The bikes were actually valued at more than $400, and included were donated helmets and bike locks.
To learn more, visit the 50 Bikes for 50 Kids website.Tweet Print
In February 2011, a man who grew impatient waiting for a passing Critical Mass ride in Porto Alegre, Brazil, sped his car into the crowd of cyclists, injuring more than 30 people, several of them severely. It was even captured in a (graphic) video. A year later, cycling advocacy leaders from around the world gathered in Porto Alegre to memorialize the anniversary of the attack and push forward an agenda to create safer streets for all users in all cities.
After a one-year hiatus, the third Foro Mundial de la Bicicleta (World Bicycle Forum) will be held in Medellín, Columbia, from February 26 to March 1. Attendance and participation is open to anyone. The theme for 2015 is “Ciudades para Todos – Cities for All,” an agenda that goes beyond just bicycling and includes safe, sustainable mobility for citizens of all the world’s cities. By creating a unified voice to lobby against the motorized transportation networks given favorable treatment, the Forum hopes to inspired local, regional and national authorities to reimagine how people get from A to B.
Scheduled to appear are a who’s-who of international cycling advocates, including Lotte Bech of the Danish Cycling Embassy; Enrique Penalosa, the former mayor of Bogota, Columbia; and Janette Sadik-Khan, the former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation.Tweet Print
Each year at the National Bike Summit the Alliance for Biking and Walking announces its winners for the Alliance Advocacy Awards, a way to recognize exceptional groups and individuals who lead in advancing active transportation in North America.
The Alliance received 210 nominations for the 2014 awards, and the final winners were chosen by a panel of past award winners, leaders in the industry and Alliance staff. The People’s Choice Award winner was, of course, chosen by a vote.Tweet Print