Bicycle Mayor Update

As I was riding a new Model Mile path in my region this week (and taking my usual daily Leap of Faith), I thought about the provocative Georgia Bike Summit I attended online last week (every single session, including the ones where only 15 people showed up), as well as the Arrested Mobility webinar during the same time frame. I considered subsequent conversations I’ve had on a wide range of topics with my advisors, friends, and family members.

There are moments I think, “Who am I to do this?” and there are others I realize, “Who am I not to?” I trust the journey, and already in these past few weeks as I have put this intention to be Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor out in the world, a bombardment of good things have happened. As always, I know that wherever the road takes me is where I am meant to be.

And so, an update:

My interview follow-up package to the social enterprise that runs the global Bicycle Mayor program requires letters of endorsement from national, regional, and local leaders and advocates. Asking was hard, and yet I did. And now, thank you to all who have been sending them to me! As each one comes in, I share it with my husband and daughters and we collectively embrace the risk I’m taking, and the fact that risks are worth taking (as they each are taking their own risks right now as well). (If you would still like to send a letter of endorsement, here is my email. I am adding all letters to my follow-up package until September 27. Thank you in advance.)

I’ve also been receiving some very moving personal messages from people around the country who are encouraged to pursue a variety of things they’ve been thinking about doing in their own lives, perhaps with that little nudge now of seeing that someone else is trying to do something new, too, at a time when it is easy to feel helpless or ineffective in a nation and world in crisis.

Every Bicycle Mayor is different, and brings to the table their skills and passions. Something one of the speakers said at the Georgia Bike Summit struck a chord with me. She said the way to make a difference is to focus on “my best and highest use. My style. My ability. My common thread.” And so, with that well-timed reminder (there are no coincidences in life), here are my goals* (which I’m required to submit as part of my package, along with additional work plan details) as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, and the strategies I intend to use to achieve them:

What Are My Goals, and Ways to Achieve Them, as Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor?* 

Goal #1 

Shine a light on those doing the work to make it more welcoming for people on bikes throughout Metro Atlanta in order to: honor people; share best practices; encourage others in their forward momentum; and identify opportunities for collaboration

How I Aim to Achieve This

  • Conduct online and in-person experiential research and outreach to understand each county and select cities’ distinct challenges and opportunities and their success stories;
  • Identify the people doing the heavy lifting and find out more about their projects;
  • Communicate stories of these successes and heroes using my journalistic skills and platforms; 
  • Provide appropriate calls to actions as indicated by the key constituents;
  • Connect people who may not yet know each other and could be helpful to each other, if possible;
  • Advocate for improvements as desired by the people most affected, when appropriate.

Goal #2 

Encourage five people throughout the Metro Atlanta 10-county region to apply to become Bicycle Mayors of their cities or counties within one year of the start of my term of service

How I Aim to Achieve This

  • Transparently share my journey on my blog, TravelingAtTheSpeedOfBike.com;
  • Profile select Bicycle Mayors from around the USA and world and the wide variety of work they are doing so that people may find someone with whom they identify or who inspires them to say, ”Why not me?”;
  • Actively search for people already doing the work (or are interested in growing in their capacity to do it) who may want to serve their specific city or county in this way, and encourage their applications;
  • Continually concentrate my geographic coverage due to others’ involvement.

Goal #3 

Empower or assist more people, especially women and teen girls (as is my passion), who are underrepresented in our public spaces as bicycle riders

How I Aim to Achieve This

  • Provide bike skills education, coaching, and mentoring in person (as possible and practicable during COVID-19)  as a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Insutrctor (#5382);
  • Provide bike skills education remotely (as I already do via a proprietary course delivered via text as well as a downloadable PDF); 
  • Create and share welcoming routes throughout the region as a People for Bikes Ambassador;
  • Provide resources that could be useful to all (additional to my current Bonus Resources offerings), to be determined after further exploration and understanding of the specific needs of those who express interest.

Today I’m working on another new People for Bikes’ RideSpot tour route in the City of Altanta. Yesterday I took a video of a dangerous crossing in a metro-Atlanta city right before I crossed paths with a city councilor who witnessed the whole thing (and to whom I sent the video as additional evidence as he is already actively trying to change that crossing). This was immediately before meeting a friend on the side of the road to pick wild muscadines. (If interested, there’s a whole section about free public fruit in my book.)

free public fruit picked while Traveling at the Speed of Bike

Last night I advocated for the League of American Bicyclists to require cities applying for Bicycle Friendly Community certification to identify their bike infrastructure that does and does not meet NACTO guidelines for speed and volume of motor vehicle traffic so it’s more clear which cities are actually bikeable (rather than allowing cities to self-report the number of painted bike lane miles when those bike lanes may not be functionally usable by the majority of the community).

Tonight I hope to do an interview with the driving force behind the Model Mile. My questions include: Bravo for the numerous details (such as clear sight lines, multiple access points and escape routes, and lighting on the entire route) that made me feel less vulnerable as a woman riding alone and more welcome as a transportation bike rider than other paths do — how did that come to be? On the other hand, who did that path displace, and how is the already-happening gentrification as a result of that path being addressed?

And tomorrow is another day to question, research, experience, advocate, share the truth I find, and shine a light on others.

Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for what happens next. Trust the journey.

* Note: The Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor position is an independent, volunteer commitment of 4-8 hours a week over a 2-year term as part of a global bicycle mayor consortium with the international social enterprise BYCS.  My pursuit of these goals is limited to those time parameters in order to keep expectations realistic and attract others willing to serve in this volunteer-capacity as future or additional bicycle mayors within the region.