Summits, dinners, retreats, & more in September

Early September saw a whirlwind of activity for your friends at Georgia Bikes.

First, we travelled to Atlanta for the Strategic Highway Safety Plan summit, sponsored by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. This day-long conference was followed by an immensely successful People for Bikes-sponsored dinner for Atlanta business leaders who support better bicycling conditions.

The next morning we boarded a plane for western Pennsylvania to attend the Alliance for Biking & Walking Leadership Retreat, which led immediately into the 2014 Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference in downtown Pittsburgh.

Below are a few photos and our takeaways from these events. Suffice to say, this post is barely scratching the surface! If you want to know more, please get in touch. :)

Strategic Highway Safety Plan summit

GOHS Director Harris Blackwood started the Summit with an impassioned appeal for safety. “People on the roads in this state deserve safety,” he said. We work closely with GOHS and thank them for their partnership in helping us reduce bicyclist injuries and fatalities.

We led the afternoon's Bicycle Task Team to develop statewide performance measures that will drive how Georgia spends federal safety funds (as well as revenue from the Share the Road tag).

Our recommendations for the SHSP :

Education: 3’ safe passing law educational campaign, including billboards, PSAs, bus wraps and social media; Improve bicycle laws section of GA Driver’s Manual

Enforcement: Integrate our nationally recognized law enforcement training into GA police academy curriculum; Document enforcement of the 3’ passing law

Engineering: Record miles built of bike facilities statewide; Conduct coordinated, ongoing training of MPOs and GDOT regional offices on bicycle infrastructure best practices

People for Bikes Business Leader Dinner

Atlanta, a designated Green Lane Project city, played host to the nation's third “Business Leader Dinner.” This dinner, organized and paid for by People for Bikes, brought together over two dozen senior executives from Atlanta-based companies and organizations, including the Falcons, Coca-Cola, UPS, Kaiser-Permanente, the Cox Foundation, the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the CDC, and the Midtown and Atlanta CIDs.

Our purpose? To engage business leaders in advocacy efforts to improve bicycling in Atlanta, and throughout the state.

The result? Invitees, including Falcons GM Thomas Dmitroff, spoke on why they think bicycling, in all its forms, is good for Georgia. Many thanks to Board members Dan Thornton and Joe Seconder, as well as the staff of People for Bikes, for organizing this outstanding evening. We’re confident it marks the beginning of an exciting new chapter in our statewide advocacy for a bike friendly Georgia.

Alliance for Biking & Walking Leadership Retreat

In 1996, a small group of bicycling and walking advocates from across the US met at the Thunderhead Ranch in Wyoming to share skills, experience, and expertise. They formed the Thunderhead Alliance - now called the Alliance for Biking & Walking - “with the explicit goal to link state and local bike advocacy organizations and leaders.”

Every two years, the Alliance convenes a multi-day Leadership Retreat to increase the knowledge and capacity of organizations like Georgia Bikes throughout North America. Our Executive Director served on the planning committee for this year’s Retreat, which saw over 125 advocacy leaders spending two and a half days together for workshops and seminars designed to strengthen advocacy groups large and small.

Among the workshops our ED participated in: Getting to the Ask with Major Donors, Working with Leaders in Southern Cities and States, Building Bike Tourism, and Engaging Rural Communities with Active Transportation. The image to the left shows a few of the advocates from around the US who attended (L to R: Tyler from BikeAthens, Brent from Georgia Bikes, Amy from Palmetto Cycling Coalition, Anna from San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, and Elliott with the Alliance in DC). We're proud to say that all of these talented folks got their start in bike advocacy with BikeAthens!

There’s far more to report on than we can possibly fit in a blog post, but take our word on one thing: if you volunteer or work for a bicycle advocacy organization, you need to attend the next Leadership Retreat! Who’s in for Vancouver in 2016?

Pro Walk Pro Bike Pro Place conference

North America’s preeminent conference on walking and bicycling is held every two years in a different city that has made strides toward being a more livable place. This year, the conference was held in downtown Pittsburgh, a surprisingly beautiful - and bikable - city and a wonderful place to stroll and admire the steel bridges over the Allegheny.

Our favorite workshops and takeaways from the conference: 

  • Learning about statewide safety campaigns in FL (Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow) and NC (Watch for Me NC) and how we can fund such initiatives in Georgia

  • Successful “Complete Streets” policies must have local leadership; Advocates and city leaders should monetize the safety benefits of Complete Streets conversions; Focus on the efficient and safe movement of people, not just motor vehicles

  • We need data, data, and more data. We exhaustively count cars and trucks, but barely any city in GA bothers to count pedestrians or bicycle traffic. By “not measuring something,” one presenter said, it “shows that it’s not important.” We know that safer, healthier communities are important, so let’s start counting people who walk and bike! Plenty of tools and guidance exist to help your community begin bicycle traffic counts today.

  • And finally, we can’t simultaneously expect more people to walk and bike while also dedicating valuable public space to free motor vehicle parking. Help your community envision a more livable future, and start prioritizing public space to realize that vision.