Every year, the Alliance for Biking and Walking holds their annual Advocacy Awards reception during which the Alliance ‘shines the spotlight on the progress and victories of the bicycle and pedestrian advocacy movement’ and highlights organizations and advocates that they believe are propelling forward the “people powered movement” in the United States.
And, this year, because of our many initiatives, BIKE WALK MISSISSIPPI took home the biggest award of the night: ADVOCACY ORGANIZATION OF THE YEAR!
The Alliance for Biking and Walking stated when presenting the award that, “as local and national organizations continue to emphasize the connection between transportation and economic growth, perhaps they should take a cue from the fantastic advocates from Bike Walk Mississippi”. Advocates lovingly refer to these awards as the “Oscars” of biking and walking advocacy, so as the comparison goes, the Alliance reminded us that we won best picture for 2013! It’s because of all of you and your support! Thank you Mississippi, let’s keep moving!!
As you can see, Bike Walk Mississippi does a lot on very little. We are working hard to represent you on the National stage as well as serve as your statewide advocate promoting the need for a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly Mississippi. We are beyond grateful to be recognized for our efforts on the national stage and, will continue to be your voice for a better state! But, herein lies the rub…we are still a very, very small organization struggling in this economy to stay afloat and we want to continue to show the nation what Mississippi is capable of! We are off to a good start, but without your support, we will literally be unable to keep our wheels turning. With the help of our financial supporter Advocacy Advance, all 2013 donations will be matched 100%! If you are reading this, you probably believe in our mission or find yourself at least curious about the work we are doing and now you know that we are doing everything in our power to stand out from the crowd, to bring partners together to grow the movement and to make a better Mississippi.
But, there is one thing missing. We need YOU! Will you please consider financially supporting the efforts being made by Bike Walk Mississippi?
For less than the cost of a pair of new shoes, you can join our efforts to keep Mississippi moving! To join or donate to Bike Walk Mississippi, click HERE now.
Learn about our visit to the National Bike Summit 2013!
In March of 2013, delegates representing the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians from Mississippi arrived in D.C. to add their voices to the nationwide conversation and to make our case before Congress. And, this year was one of the best! If I had to describe Bike Walk Mississippi’s recent trip to the National Bike Summit and report back on the efforts being made in the bicycling movement nationwide in one word, it would be: DIVERSITY. The take-away for all of us working to make a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly state is to invite others to join the movement – whether this means engaging under-served populations or by engaging those who do not directly identify themselves as “cyclists”. If we can expand our conversation to include ideas such as increasing livable communities, quality of life and using the bicycle as a tool for a better, healthier, safer and more economically sound Mississippi – we will tap into those who care about the same end result but who may not even know that they are advocates.
In the shadow of the sequester and the literal fear of Congressional shut down because of heavy snow in the D.C. area, advocates from Mississippi and around the U.S. fought against the storm to met with Congressional offices to speak out for the needs of bicyclists and pedestrians; specifically asking Congress to continue their support of bike/ped related programs and infrastructure projects. At the national bike summit, we met leaders from around the nation who are using unique programs and projects to push forward the efforts of a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly America. From Congressmen and Mayors speaking to the importance of the investments in bicycle infrastructure and what it can mean for local communities to the leadership of corporations (hint: AAA!) In addition to visiting with Congress and learning about “top-down” efforts, we also heard from local advocates on the ground, particularly those working to include minorities and under-served populations. One of the most impressive and inspiring presentations came from Veronica Davis, co-founder of Black Women Bike DC and her story to engage the African American community in DC with acceptable and accessible ways to join or make know their presence in the biking movement. From community bike shops popping up all over the nation (including the Bike Walk MS Sponsored Jxn Community Bike Shop set to open this month), to advocates working with mothers, with low income communities, with Hispanic, Asian, African American and other groups that are not typically the “face” of bicycling but are key to its growth and success.
National Women’s Bicycling Forum: “Women Mean Business”
Our trip began with the League of American Bicyclist’s newest program “Women Bike”, and it’s “Women Mean Business” program at the National Women’s Bicycling Forum. In 2009, women took just 24% of bicycle trips in the United States. If we ever hope to ‘mainstream bicycling in America, we have to bridge the gender gap and get more women riding’ – which means, as stated by Women Bike, “as the energy and momentum around women cycling grows nationwide, we need to share our collective knowledge, build a network of female leaders and start working on targeted programs that put more women in the saddle and at the forefront of the movement.” While attending the Women’s Bicycling Forum, the staff of Bike Walk Mississippi heard from the female editors of Bicycle Times and Momentum Mag, female bicycle builders working to expand the efforts of bicycles made for the needs of women. We heard from women leaders in the bicycle industry such as Elysa Walk, General Manager of Giant Bicycles as well as on the ground advocates such as the founders of Red, Bike and Green, a collective of cyclists improving the health, economy & local environment of African Americans by creating relevant & sustainable black bike culture.
We heard about efforts such as Kidical Mass DC, an effort to support and engage mothers and children to bicycling, efforts being made by women to make bike retail shops, rides and races more welcoming to women and efforts around the U.S. to build bicycle friendly cities that provide environments that are attractive to and more conducive to getting women on bikes.
National Bike Summit: “Bicycling Means Business”
Met with a standing ovation, outgoing Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood addressed the crowd of over 750 attendees from all 50 states to speak out the importance of bicycles as a part of the overall transportation system in America. Secretary LaHood stated that, “DOT is going to address bicycle safety head on — and we’re going to pull from all of our resources to solve our safety challenges,” Further LaHood stated, “DOT will also work to create a standard guide for how we build modern streets, bridges and highways that keep everyone safe — including cyclists.” Following the DOT Secretary, we had the privilege to hear from a panel concerning the economic benefits of better cycling cities from Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC Transportation Commissioner, John Burke, President of Trek Bicycles and Bruce Katz, Vice President of the Brookings Institute. As our second day began, we were honored to hear from Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon (who made the bike pin famous!), Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard, Congressman Tom Petri and Senator Ben Cardin. When Mayor Ballard first took office, there was 1 mile of bike lanes – now, there are 75! We believe the message and example from Mayor Ballard strikes home for many public officials, planners and advocates in Mississippi, particularly when we realize that his efforts are not simply because he, himself is a cyclists but because he understands that his efforts are about economic development, health and talent retention. His message speaks to elected officials power to use the return on investment that comes from bicycling to make a better city – and, in our case, a better state. We were lucky to hear from one of the most surprising supporters of the bicycling and pedestrian movement in America: AAA! That’s right, the American AUTOMOBILE Association supports bicycling as part of their overall mission (did you know they even offer bicycle road-side assistance?) Yolanda Cade, Director of P.R. for AAA spoke as the Summit’s keynote speaker and clearly showed that AAA, an unlikely partner is in full support of bicycling on America’s roads. If you don’t believe us, see their new PSA here: Share the Road from AAA
Following many inspirational success stories from the biking industry and the world of mountain biking to the Transportation Bill, Complete Streets, legislation, national parks and everything in between, the Mississippi delegation gathered together to talk strategy for our day on Capitol Hill to represent YOU!
As advocates prepared to march on Capitol Hill to speak with Congressmen from Mississippi, we awoke to an intense snow-storm virtually shutting down the city. Schools and federal offices were closed and, for a moment we feared our message would not be heard. After a flurry of calls, texts and a mad rush of re-scheduling, Congressmen and their staff met with Bike Walk Mississippi delegates (who headed to Capitol Hill no matter what to make our case!) This year, we asked Congressmen to expand their view of our “ask” – to look beyond simply responding to “cyclists”, but instead to see the bicycle as a tool that can be used to lead to a healthier, more connected and more economically sound state; a tool that brings with it greater talent retention and a greater quality of life for all Mississippians.
We plan to continue efforts to expand this conversation through the “Mississippi Livable Communities Summit”, co-sponsored by Bike Walk Mississippi, to be held in Jackson, MS on October 2nd – featuring keynote speaker, Andy Clarke, Director of the League of American Bicyclists (Save the date!)
We are working hard to expand and grow the effort for more Bicycle Friendly Communities across our state, beginning with our work through our Bicycle Friendly Mississippi campaign, an effort to work with local communities to assess and create action plans toward increased bicycle friendly communities – efforts that, (whether you bike or not) make for a better community and thus, a better Mississippi.
We serve as your voice on bicycle and pedestrian issues statewide and as representative nationally.
Learn more about our initiatives and JOIN OUR EFFORTS TODAY!