Boulder B-Cycle at the National Bike Summit
By Elizabeth Train Mar 29, 2012 | 3:06PM
Save Cycling! The 2012 National Bike Summit’s headline didn’t mince words—it was a call to action for bike lovers from across the country to come to the Hill and speak out against a transportation bill that would eliminate funding for bike and pedestrian accommodations on our streets and roadways. And come they did—more than 800 people attended the summit and filled the halls of congress a week ago today, delivering a pro-bike message.
My summit experience began with the Women Cycling Forum. A presentation on the history of women in bicycling was followed by a panel discussion targeting reasons women don’t ride and what we—as advocates on the grassroots level and as a movement—need to do to help break down barriers to participation. Despite the diversity of panelists, the forum delivered a consistent message: more women will ride when biking is less intimidating and more convenient. Better, safer bike facilities will help more women get rolling.
As the summit progressed, we heard over and over that women are an “indicator species.” When women feel comfortable riding—whether it’s bike sharing, commuting on a personal bike, or riding for recreation on paths and trails—lots more people will feel the same way, and the cycling movement will grow exponentially.
So how do we make a bike-friendly town like Boulder feel like an even better, safer, and more convenient place to ride—and, specifically, to B-cycle?
I had a chance to ponder this question during the break between the Women’s Forum and the summit’s opening reception. It was a gorgeous afternoon and the cherry blossoms were in full bloom—a perfect opportunity to take Capitol Bike Share for a quick spin.
Amidst all the gorgeous sights, I sped through my free 30 minutes...and I couldn’t find a Capitol Bikeshare Station for the life of me. While meandering through the monuments accruing usage fees by the minute didn’t upset me too much that afternoon (I haven’t seen my credit card statement yet…) the second, third and fourth time last week I was unable to find a station near my destination, it started getting old—and, as darkness fell one evening, a little intimidating. If I hadn’t been a lover of all things bike share, I would have scrapped DC’s red bikes for a comfy cab on several occasions.
The take-away for me is that infrastructure for bicycling—and bikesharing, specifically—has to be seamless, and wayfinding needs to be prioritized in order for people to feel confident and safe using bikes to get around. It’s not any different in Boulder than it is in DC—getting lost stinks, and so does finding yourself on a road with no shoulder or in a bike lane that ends abruptly.
At Boulder B-cycle, we’re improving our signage and maps, broadening our system’s reach and usability in the community, and working to better integrate bike sharing into the fabric of Boulder’s transportation system. But this alone won’t Save Cycling. The rallying cry to preserve funding for bike projects and facilities resonates for us, too. Bike-share systems will fail unless people have safe places to ride—and feel safe doing it.
Let your voice be heard—visit bikeleague.org or peopleforbikes.org to learn more about how you can Save Cycling.
Executive Director, Boulder B-cycle