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  1. #1
    Sultan of Slow ataraxium's Avatar
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    Starting a University Cycling Advocacy Group Advice

    Hey folks,

    I am trying to get some starter points for forming a cycling advocacy group at my university. I was hoping some of you could give me some advice with this.

  2. #2
    avoiding my car
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    Quote Originally Posted by ataraxium View Post
    Hey folks,

    I am trying to get some starter points for forming a cycling advocacy group at my university. I was hoping some of you could give me some advice with this.
    Step 1: Research the issues and formulate a plan. Advocacy means different things to different people. If you don't have a solid idea of what your goals are, your group could inadvertently advocate for things that are inimical to cyclist's interest and rights.

    Step 2: Talk to your fellow cyclists. Make some fliers. Talk to the bike shops. Find LCIs in your area and organize bike ed.

    Here is a good place to start:
    The Best Practices of Cycling Advocacy

    Here's how I've outlined my advocacy plan:

    Same Rules: Education
    This gets primary emphasis because statistics in my city (and I think it's pretty typical) show that the majority of car v bike crashes are the result of bad choices or traffic violations by the cyclist. Also, widespread traffic violations by cyclists compounds negative attitudes and makes the next component of advocacy more difficult.

    Same Rights: Public Awareness
    Obviously, we have some social issues to overcome. There are all kinds of strategies for public awareness, from forming partnerships to guerrilla marketing.

    Same Roads: Roadway Access and Safety
    Cyclists are the legitimate users of a complete network of roads. We can use them just fine as they are, but there are improvements that benefit us: removal of hazards, smooth pavement, traffic light sensors. Other considerations that benefit us (and the entire community): enforcement of speed limits and other traffic laws to increase safety

    Good luck

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bicure's Avatar
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    Given the age group you're appealing to, I think you could take a looser approach than Bobbie suggests.

    Also, I STRONGLY disagree that cyclists are at fault in ANY way in a majority of collisions, and would NOT suggest advocating this idea, especially as it underscores the prevailing notion that we are "asking for it" by wearing our short bicycling shorts and tight halter tops, and then flirting with drunken drivers until they can't take it anymore, and let us have it... (Boys WILL be boys, after all.)

    The good thing is that you're on a college campus, so you can be pretty creative.

    I say start the group, then find your focus!
    "What about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highways this year? That's nearly 6 or 7 times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral?" - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday lecturing some no-good dirty hippie-punks on Dragnet 1968

  4. #4
    avoiding my car
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicure View Post
    Also, I STRONGLY disagree that cyclists are at fault in ANY way in a majority of collisions, and would NOT suggest advocating this idea
    I know it is not convenient to acknowledge this, but the crash statistics do not lie.
    17 fatalities - 16 were cyclist's fault, the one that wasn't was hit on the sidewalk by a reckless driver
    64% of crashes were the result of traffic violation by cyclist or bad choice by cyclist
    Don't confuse the causes of discrimination. The fact that cyclists cause many of their own problems is what makes us look bad and allows the public to devalue our safety. Putting your head in the sand or lying about it will not change the facts. The only way to change it is to acknowledge it and do something about it.

    Cycling advocates really can't afford to live in a lala land where we blame everything on the motorists. I know, they are inattentive and aggressive and rude, but we can still fix so many of our problems just by focusing on our own actions first.

    Incompetent cyclists are bad for cycling because they reinforce the notion that cycling is unsafe. Competent cyclists are good for cycling because they prove how easy and safe it is, even in a less-that-perfect traffic culture.

    Smart advocacy MUST focus on creating competent cyclists.

  5. #5
    Senior Member StrangeWill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by commuterBOBbie View Post
    64% of crashes were the result of traffic violation by cyclist or bad choice by cyclist
    Thats what I was expecting for reality, when I heard ranting I was expecting an assumption in the 80%+ range.

    When there are so many uneducated cyclists running lights, going against traffic, riding on sidewalks, riding at night with no lights in black clothing and other such crap, how can you be surprised that they're responsible for a lot of collisions. The same attitude of "I'm on a bike, look out for me!" exists here. Typically no matter what I'm riding/driving/walking I watch out for the idiots that don't.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Bicure's Avatar
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    Bobbie, these are stats created by those outside of biking culture, and are PROFOUNDLY suspect. (To put it VERY diplomatically.)

    No offense, but it's an absurd "blame the victim" mentality that you seem to be embracing here.

    Kar kulture kills.

    Blaming the victims of kar kulture is NOT good cycling advocacy.

    "I didn't see him" spoken by a killer-driver & accepted like a bottle by a cop-driver does NOT equate to irresponsible cycling.

    And to accept that absurdly biased viewpoint is la-la time, dude!

    I just don't see the kind of cycling described above.

    It's just one more fantasy of kar kultur's "I'M IN A CAR, LOOK OUT FOR ME!" attitude.

    Take note, Ataraxium: we cyclists are like a bunch of cats in a tight space.

    Lotsa hissing & scratching.

    Last edited by Bicure; 01-24-08 at 02:14 AM.
    "What about the 55,000 Americans who'll die on the highways this year? That's nearly 6 or 7 times the number that'll get killed in Vietnam. Why aren't you up in arms about that? Or is dying in a car somehow moral?" - Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday lecturing some no-good dirty hippie-punks on Dragnet 1968

  7. #7
    avoiding my car
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicure View Post
    Bobbie, these are stats created by those outside of biking culture, and are PROFOUNDLY suspect. (To put it VERY diplomatically.)
    Bicure

    The study and analysis was done by the man who wrote this article:
    Bicyclists, Motorists and the Language of Marginalization

    His analysis and conclusions are not suspect. His motivation is to improve the safety of cyclists.

  8. #8
    avoiding my car
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bicure View Post
    I just don't see the kind of cycling described above.
    I see it all the time. Among solo (presumably transportation) cyclists, I see ten times more sidewalk, wrong-way, weaving in and out of parking spaces, on and off sidewalks, hugging the curb, riding 6 inches from parked cars, than I do proper, same-direction, safe-lane-position riding. I see red-light and stop-sign running WAY more than compliance - and often with a complete disregard for their own safety. Frankly, it's a wonder that statistics are not higher.

    Even among so-called experienced riders, I see dumb decisions. Riding all the way to intersections in bike lanes where a high percentage of traffic turns right. Riding the edge line in an 11 foot lane. I've seen whole pace lines riding the gutter pan seam in a median-separated 11 foot lane, because they couldn't bear to have a car behind them for two blocks!

    Last fall there were 4 crashes between experienced riders and motorists. all 4 were the fault of the motorist. But all 4 could have been avoided by the cyclist using better lane position, situational awareness or crash avoidance skills. I do not excuse the motorists who violated their right-of-way. And I do not blame the victim. But I look at the details of those crashes and think, if I could convince my community that cyclists have so much more control over their own safety than they think, I might help them prevent smashed bikes and broken hips.

    The victim attitude you present helps no one. Step off it and look at the whole picture.

    Is the cycling community better served by acting like whiny victims oppressed by the car culture, or by empowering ourselves to operate effectively within that culture?

    I suspect the car culture will be shifting significantly due to forces much stronger than us. We should just work on ourselves.

  9. #9
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Your university probably has guideline for groups on Campus. I'd check in with them and ask for advice. Play by their rules and they may help you. If your school has a police training program that provides campus security they might be a natural ally.
    This space open

  10. #10
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by commuterBOBbie View Post
    Frankly, it's a wonder that statistics are not higher.
    They are lower because most drivers pay enough attention and react sufficiently to accommodate the dangerous and/or illegal driving of others.

    Al

  11. #11
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    Look up other advocacy groups in your area -- the local bike club, plus every state seems to have a statewide advocacy group. These folks will help get you pointed in the right direction.

    Let us know where you are, and you'll get some pointers for sure.

    The main thing -- what's your goal? What are you trying to achieve, specifically? More people on bikes? Educating cyclists, or drivers, or both? Better bike facilities and more bike friendly roads in your area? A more bike-friendly university administration? Again, let us know, and you'll get pointers.

    One thing that really seems to get traction with college students is a bike co-op. The one here in Blacksburg has had a noticeable effect on biking in town -- more bikes everywhere. Put a few riders out there, and others get the idea. It gives people a place to gather, and creates a little scene around itself -- your posse, ready to carry out your advocacy missions.

    If you have a good idea, just do it. That's how our local co-op started, and how BikeChallenge started at VA Tech.

    If by chance you're in Virginia, look us up at VBF.

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