Thursday, April 4, 2013

This is what bicycle advocacy looks like - Phoenix Spokes People in action

The Phoenix Spoke People have been taking this advocacy stuff pretty serious in the last couple of months.

Phoenix Spokes Person Gene leans into view a suggested bike lane location.
We've been attending and participating in the City of Phoenix Bicycle Summits, which have been held in the various city council districts.  I attended one recently in District 8 where city Bicycle Coordinator invited attendees to gather around district maps and highlight and mark up areas we'd like to see bike infrastructure such as lanes, off-street routes, signage and bike corrals.  I picked up a red marker and went a little nuts.  I my opinion 16th Street could really bike lanes, as could 44th Street.  And we can always cross our fingers for the 7's.

Lisa crosses Central for our meet up at the Grand Canal.
For the next couple of weeks, Phoenix Spokes People are committing ourselves to attending the City Manager's Trial Budget presentations, also scattered across the city, where we watch a presentation on budget priorities and then have a chance to make public comment.

Lisa is stylin' for the Trial Budget meeting, on her vintage Raleigh folder equipped with an extra
large wicker basket.
 Today, I pedaled out to the Devonshire Community Center with members, Anna, Lisa, and Giovanni.  We met up at the entrance of the Grand Canal on Central just north of Indian School Road.

I arrived first at the meet up location.  Happily, I had packed coffee and a delicious egg and bacon sandwich
to snack on while I waited.
It was a beautiful morning for our ride, about four or five miles on paved canal path, bike lanes, foot bridges and occasional streets.

Phoenix Spokes People - making it happen.
Once at the community center, we met up with Gene, our groups most senior member (so far . . . ) to hear and be heard.  Gene, Lisa, Anna and I all spoke about our strongly held belief that bicycle infrastructure is a good thing for Phoenix.  Lisa spoke about the ways in which bicyclists and bicycle infrastructure contribute to economic development, particularly the local businesses that add variety and flare to our neighborhoods, while Anna and I both spoke of bicycling as an alternative to car dependence supports our personal economics at home.

I've had little time on the Grand Canal but Giovanni told me it's made getting around by bike a lot easier since he came to town.
Several more meetings will take place over the next few weeks and we are determined to get as many of our like-minded friends and associates to these meetings as we can.  I'll be attending at least one more.  City Council member, and the mayor, will be hosting these events and they need to hear from us that the needs of bicyclists of all stripes are important.  They need to know specifically how we use them and why - bike infrastructure isn't just a frivolity but the tools that help people get from here to there safely and efficiently.  So, this is how it's done - we, perhaps you, show up and give comment.  I jotted down a few thoughts that I wanted to convey and when I took the mike, I spoke from the heart about the things I knew about and experienced as a cyclist - biking to where I need to go helps me financially and is a critical component of where I choose to live.

And I must say, we were awesome.  All of us a bit nervous but we held our own.  Before we left, a reporter from KTAR (92.3) asked to interview us for an upcoming story.  After that, Robert, one of the city council staff members introduced himself, thanked us for speaking and told us he often rode in to work from his home in Glendale.  So we left with media and connections!

We're meeting this Sunday!  Please plan to attend!
What next?  Well, the PSP monthly meeting is this Sunday at 5 p.m. at Angel's Trumpet.  Hope to see some Phoenix readers there.  We're going to be looking at the final version of our letter to the Mayor and City Council before we sign it and deliver it to City Hall.  We'll also discuss in person advocacy at the trial budget meetings and upcoming council meetings, as well as the need to create business cards to hand out and get our name out there.


bikeolounger said...

I consider a thorough reading of the site an important part of any advocate's background.

I'm all in favor of well-crafted bicycle-specific infrastructure, but much of what passes for bike "stuff" (lanes, paths, sidepaths, etc.) creates conflict by exacerbating effects of poor sight lines in intersections, then adds complexity with signage rather than simplifies things to enhance safety.

If you have to work to teach the general public how to use a new feature, it may not be a good feature. It's far more effective to teach the public to use infrastructure that is well-designed to work with rules of motion that apply to all.

I hope your efforts at advocacy yield great results!!

DAN said...

Nice bikes I just got a Raleigh folder bicycle

James Anderson said...

Great blog! I'm so happy the weather is shaping up for the perfect ridign experience. I was just wondering if you are currently accepting guest posts. I have an article called "3 of the Best Mountain Biking Trails in the Northwest" that would be a great fit for any bike lover. If this sounds like an article you'd care to have on your site, don't hesitate to get in touch.