When my mom sent me an article on cycling from her area newspaper in Florida I opened it up and my eyes popped. The League of American Bicyclists’ community specialist Stephen Clark was examining the conditions on the streets for bicyclists and filing field reports as part of the Bicycle Friendly Community program. Many of the conditions Stephen experienced in Florida were similar to what is going on where I live. And he did a wonderful job articulating thoughtful critiques that can help us better approach sharing the streets. This gave me a boost of energy not only in helping me articulate educational goals for my community but also because the Bike League had touched my mother’s life, and helped her understand better the conditions her bicycling son faces on a regular basis. We need these kinds of nationwide connections to help bond communities together and unify us around common interests and circumstances that impact us all. The Bike League is providing an important perspective into our national life.
Bicycling is like an escalator for every aspect of our lives. It simultaneously improves every facet of our health–economic, social, personal, public–while evaporating symptoms of poor health by relieving restlessness, anxiety, stress, depression, alienation, lethargy. What an amazing result from such a simple action. Bicycling is like education in that it serves as a vehicle and gateway for individuals to enter into a world of new opportunity. It is a game changer.
The League’s National Bike Conference is March 10-12 this year in Washington, D.C., the place I was born and lived the first nine years of my life (in nearby Bryans Road outside of the beltway). The theme is Bikes +, accentuating all the synergistic ways cycling works to make improvements in so many areas of our lives. Cycling is such a multi faceted activity and for me these cascading effects–increasing my empathy, connecting me to the places I live, developing relationships with the people I share these places with, lifting my self esteem, stimulating my thinking, improving my health, and giving me honest feedback, and providing basic transportation–make cycling such an integral part of my way of life and make it such an attractive draw. I’m glad the League is hitting on these themes and elevating them in the national awareness. Should be a stimulating conference producing some cloudbursts of energy leading to discovering new ways of approaching things.
In the nascient stages of this nation’s birth we centered our discussion on very idealistic principles and core values. Most of those ideals, like equality, were no where near evident under the conditions present. But nonetheless we aspired to them and initiated practices that helped us little by little inch towards our great goals. Contrary to what cynicism tempts us with, these high aspirations have worth in providing a proper aim for us to base our trajectory on. Bicycling is a practice that actually lets me make day by day progress and see results toward high goals, like perfect well being and health, that are not attainable really, but nonetheless are worth having because they guide our efforts and make true gains possible. When I bike my ideals become more attainable and in some ways actualized, giving me a boost of confirmation that effort is rewarded. The more we become a nation that bikes together, the better off we’ll be in making progress towards making more of the ideal possible. Probably more than we have yet dared to imagine. The League of American Bicyclists is my bike org of the month this first month of 2015. Thank you for better connecting us through the arc of the bike life. This is an exciting ride to take together.