photo courtesy of Vivian Ortiz
BIG congratulations to Vivian Ortiz, the newest Bicycle Mayor in the USA as part of the Global Bicycle Mayors and Leaders Network. You met Vivian previously here on Traveling at the Speed of Bike as one of the featured women in the “You Go, Girl!” series, as well as the newest League of American Bicyclists Board Member.
Vivian texted me awhile back and asked if I’d tap in to the Zoom meeting of the Boston Bicyclists Union’s Golden Cog Awards, when she was originally nominated for this honor. Intrigued, I did, and am so glad because I got to witness the outpouring of love and support for all Vivian does first-hand. Honestly, there was not a dry eye in the room.
So that brings me to you.
I’m getting lots of requests from people around the USA who are interested in becoming Bicycle Mayors where they live and want to talk it through. It’s a pretty open-ended position for go-getters who are typically already serving as catalysts (with a wide range of related achievements and endorsements), and every Bicycle Mayor is different. However, there are some common things that most people consider doing, organizing, or amplifying that help give focus to the position.
With only eight hours a week expected in this pro bono position, you can’t do it all. If you think you can do some of this where you live, let’s talk! It is one of my three goals (here’s a nice blog post Maria Borowik* at BikeLaw.com published about that) to encourage more Bicycle Mayors (although I had nothing to do with Vivian’s achievement).
- Do or organize an audit of your city’s policies to see if they include ones known to enable people to ride bikes safely. Compare this to nearby cities and share Best Practices. Participate in public meetings to create or improve master plans and specific access-for-all.
- Do or organize an audit of your city’s bike parking availability. Provide input to encourage improvement in policies and reality.
- Do or organize counts of people riding bikes on key transportation corridors in your city. Advocate for safety improvements to increase these numbers.
- Serve as a watchdog over your city’s implementation of its policies and its full and honest disclosure during its Bicycle Friendly Community application process. (See Width of a Prius, and why that’s a concern of mine re: what I’m seeing in some nearby cities.)
- Provide information and guidance to businesses to help them become more welcoming to bike riders and to possibly apply to become Bicycle Friendly Businesses
- Offer League Cycling Instructor education services to your city (LCIs typically charge for this service, although I do offer one free class a month throughout Metro Atlanta, thanks to your purchase of my book) in order to encourage more people to ride bikes as well as to boost the strength of your city’s Bicycle Friendly Community application (you can find LCIs in your area on the BikeLeague.org website — here are all the LCIs in the State of Georgia. This is how my student Diana, the recipient of my most recent free class as well as a free bike from my friend Jon, found me.)
- Share welcoming bike routes to encourage more people to ride bikes
- Create opportunities for people to get their bikes fixed for free
- Serve as a bridge connecting your city hall, your local bike advocacy group, and your local chamber of commerce, as well as across municipalities
- Communicate issues, opportunities, and success stories, and amplify them over social media and through other tools
- Host online panels or forums on particular relevant issues or for specific populations
- Connect nationally and globally with other Bicycle Mayors, learn from each other, and work together on projects, such as this recent joint statement from Bicycle Mayors across the Americas for World Remembrance Day 2020 and the global Rolling Wave for World Bicycle Day 2021.
* Maria is another woman featured in the “You Go, Girl!” series. She was part of the legal team that represented me when I was assaulted by a motor vehicle driver while riding my bike a year ago today.