Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bicycle Advocacy

For the past couple of years I have been feeling an increasing need to become involved in some community advocacy. There are a number of things that I am interested in, but the one I think of the most is cycling. There are a number of groups in Vancouver that are interesting. North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) advocates for mountain bikers needs and rights on the trails of the famed North Shore. I was a member of this group a number of years ago (well I had a membership), but was turned off because I felt the group was geared towards making the North Shore too difficult for the beginner. And, although I enjoy and ride all the expert trails on the Shore I have found that there are many that don't and that there isn't really anything for them. There need s to be more inclusion for all Mountain bikers.

Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), is another interesting group. They seem to be involved not only in cycling related issues, but also more general transportation related advocacy, like buses, carpooling and the environment.

Groups that have blossomed out of Best include Our Community Bikes and Pedal Power. Both of these off shoots look really cool, but are not necessarily what I want to focus my time on right now.

What I am interested in is the plight of the average cyclist on the roads of Vancouver. Most of my time riding for the past few years has been commuting. I have spent many hours on the road watching interactions between cyclists and other traffic, have seen how cyclists are marginalised by infrastructure and other users. So I think I have to do something that will help this group.

An organisation that seems to fit this bill is the Vancouver Cycling Coalition (VACC). Actually I have been a member for a couple of years now. It seems as though this group has been active in a number of projects in Vancouver (and area), including bike lanes and generally improving cyclists visibility in local government. The thing is though, they don't seem like very big. I have been to a couple of meetings now and there are only a few of us there (the AGM had maybe 35 people and the last North Shore Chapter meeting had 5 of us). Is this a big enough group to leverage meaningful change? Are the ideas of this group really what the "masses" of cyclist want? I'll have to see.

I guess all any of us can do is try to help and change things from within groups like these. As a group I think we are much more powerful than as individuals. I will try and help, in my own little way.


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