So, it’s a wrap this upcoming Sunday on my pro bono work (except for with refugees) in Metro Atlanta and the USA.
I’ve left you some free assets related to my 3 defined goals for year 1 (of a 2-year term) as the first Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor with the Amsterdam-based social enterprise BYCS.
(1) Shine a light on people making it more welcoming to ride bikes
The profiles** (links at the end of this post) were my most popular accomplishments, and continue to get lots of views and shares every day. (Hang tight — I have two more coming before Sunday.)
I am particularly excited that people who may be working tirelessly get a moment in the spotlight, and that people who did not know each other previously get connected as a result. Ripple effect, folks. We’re workin’ on ripple effect here.
(2) Create and share welcoming routes; teach more women and girls to ride bikes
The routes*** are infinitely shareable and seem to be appreciated, so I’m glad I created a body of them. I continue to post occasional “ride stories” as a PeopleForBikes Ambassador. Here are some examples**** (see the links at the end of this post).
In addition to teaching numerous women and girls in person, my two different text-based and downloadable classes have been taken by hundreds of people around the world, and my Seniors-on-Trikes templated recommendations have been used by over a thousand.
I’m proud of this virtual pivot during COVID, and am looking forward to expanding it during Year 2. You can see my proprietary classes (based on my lived and learned expertise as a League Cycling Instructor and a woman in public space) in the You Go, Girl toolkit.
(3) Encourage others to become bicycle mayors
A number of people with whom I have spoken and for whom I’ve written recommendation letters are applying (or have applied) to become bicycle mayors (or say they are). However, it seems to me that if someone is not already working in the bike space in a paid capacity (so that this title becomes sort of the cream of top, not a new commitment), it’s a hard lift.
This post includes a little more info about how to apply or nominate someone, if you are interested.
10 Counties/70 Cities
Fun fact: I got some super-negative feedback about it at first, that I “wasn’t the right person” (not from those throughout Metro Atlanta who wrote my letters of recommendation).
I also got a lot of “that title isn’t even real.” Well, it was real to me every day when I got up and did the work. For free. And now here we are.
There are now about 130 Bicycle Mayors in the global consortium. Only six are from the USA. Only three seem to be active. You have had one of them for a solid year now.
We will be off the map this time next year if no one else steps up. I believe Metro Atlanta has the potential to be a global leader in equitable access for all. Our weather, our spirit, and our legacy all point to our unlimited potential moving forward at this crossroads of change and cataclysmic crisis in our world.
Note: now is the time for you to apply or nominate someone to represent your individual Metro Atlanta county or city. I am no longer doing it (see below for my shift to 100% global focus for Year 2 of my term.) If you would prefer to wait to represent the entire region, my term ends on Halloween 2022.
I started my term by doing deep research dives* county-by-county/month-by-month in my 10-county/70 city coverage area, but that ate up too much of the allotted 8-hours-per-week pro bono time. Plus, I was limited in how far I was willing and able to travel via bike/mass transit during COVID (I don’t like to drive). My coverage after the first five months or so became more general to the region (and beyond), or reactive to where the traction was a result of people reaching out to me with bike-related news and needs.
Some folks are group people. I can do groups just fine, but I think I’m even better one-on-one, and that has come in handy during COVID. I have met really amazing people at various virtual bike summits whom I now consider to be friends (am lookin’ at you, Betsy Eggers, Mike Flueckiger, and Charise Stephens!); by participating in the Atlanta Bike Challenge for Biketober each year (hello, Team Trust the Journey!); plus just through Traveling at the Speed of Bike through an average of ten Metro Atlanta cities each week (Today’s Nice Strangers unite!).
I also love the Bicycle Mayor Network meetings on Zoom, and they have served as a point of deeper ongoing connection with at least one additional person around the world each time.
I connect with women across the USA who survived road violence almost every single week to let them know they are not alone, and I offer these 11 tips to anyone who may find them helpful. I’m also constantly replying to emails and participating in calls to provide lived and learned insight to people working on different bike and equity-related projects.
Representation, Bearing Witness, and Amplification
I am often the only person on a bike on my almost daily 10-15 mile transportation rides in the suburb-city where I live. I don’t discount the value the presence of my female body in all types of weather and conditions has in our shared public space as a way to encourage others, or at least provide an alternative reality to children in the backs of hermetically-sealed motor vehicles and the young moms who may not have viewed Motherload yet (plus don’t miss this economic impact report, folks). It is also an ideal way to connect with those who ride a bike as their only form of transportation (or in combo with buses and trains, which I do regularly) all over Metro Atlanta.
I’ve provided the only feature journalism coverage of several regional crash tragedies, so this factual information is preserved — see A Long and Winding Road and Man Charge with Seven Counts after Killing Man on Bike in Sandy Springs, GA. They were hard to write. They are hard to read. They are necessary.
Becoming a TikTok creator (amplified across all social media platforms) has exploded my outreach capabilities, in addition to connecting with brands as a micro-influencer across multimedia channels. (I am super-selective about what I choose to review and share.)
Adding rollerskating to the mix has, first of all, helped me re-center joy, in all its conundrum (which was challenging after surviving a hit-and-run while riding my bike, despite the Joy Campaign).
It has also expanded my rubber-hits-the-road longitudinal research about public/private space and overreach (shame on you, State Farm); the subjective enforcement of linger versus loiter (plus don’t get me going on the open-container “entertainment districts”); and other existing and emerging laws that criminalize subjectively (hello, sidewalk riding, and why decriminalizing it matters in cities that are dangerous-by-design).
With any form of micromobility or public-space occupation, I’m also continually aware of the ongoing elephant-in-the-room, particularly in the ‘burbs. See Truth at a Crossroads.
My second year during my two-year term will focus 100% globally
With my departure for Peace Corps Uganda (scheduled for June 20202) derailed due to COVID-19, I’ve decided, in consultation with BYCS, to shift my goals for Year 2 as a Bicycle Mayor. They are:
(1) Profile more people around the world making it more welcoming for women and girls on bikes in the “Meet” series** (I’ve already profiled all four Canadian Bicycle Mayors plus our main contact at BYCS, Daniel Eppstein — see links at the end of this post);
(2) Further refine and develop the You Go, Girl toolkit — there’s now a dedicated website for the global initiative:
(3) Collaborate with global Bicycle Mayors on shared projects such as World Day of Remembrance, World Bicycle Day, and our fun #RollingWave around the world — including the possibility of a global art initiative and maybe even a Kindness campaign;
I will continue to be visible in our shared public spaces to positively and organically encourage more people to ride bikes.
And, of course, there will be more TikToks. I am, in fact, mentoring numerous others who are already master communicators about how to use this robust platform for increased bike advocacy and action (or frankly, just fun — and fun matters, now more than ever).
If you’d like to add some armchair travel to your bike journey or do a deeper dive on some of the most pressing issues, see the only bookshop in the world dedicated to bike books (all of which I’ve purchased, read, and loved). Proceeds benefit indie book shops everywhere, and your purchase of my specific book either at that book shop or any of these additional online places also helps more women and girls ride bikes.
If you are a USA-based municipality or corporation wanting expert assistance to develop a program to encourage commute options or wellness initiatives (including User Experience insight, class templates, and communications tools), please contact me for rates.
Oh, and one final comment. As always . . .
Trust the journey!
*Metro Atlanta Overview, City of Atlanta, and County-by-County Deep Dives
**Profiles of people making it more welcoming to ride bikes:
As Metro Atlanta Bicycle Mayor, a League Cycling Instructor, a PeopleForBikes Ambassador, and the author of Traveling at the Speed of Bike (book and blog), I shine a light on people making it more welcoming to ride bikes and access public space close to home and around the world. Meet some below! If you’d like to put stories to work for your company, municipality, or organization, see here.
Meet Greg Masterson (Metro Atlanta Cycling Club)
Meet Marjon Manitius (Brookhaven Bike Alliance)
Meet Byron Rushing (Atlanta Regional Commission)
Meet Creighton Bryan (Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy)
Meet Betsy Eggers and Jack Honderd (Peachtree Creek Trail and Brookhaven Bike Aliance)
Jon’s Leap of Faith (Street Minister and Bike Saver Extraordinaire)
A Second(er) or Two about Why You’re Needed (City of Dunwoody)
Meet Matt (Painter of New Cycle Track by Mercedes Benz Stadium)
Meet Dr. Walter May (Reinhardt University)
Meet Alex Gee (World Bicycle Relief)
Meet Shawn Deangelo Walton (Everybody Eats ATL and WeCycle)
Meet Charlton Bivins (Clayton County Cycling Club)
Meet Emmett McNair (tour guide extraordinaire)
Meet Mike Flueckiger (Primary Mechanic at Global Spokes)
Thank You, Courtney (NYC’s Peoples’ Bike Mayor)
Meet Carden Wycoff (Wheelchair Warrior at 6 MPH)
Meet Jillian Banfield (Bicycle Mayor of Halifax, Canada)
Meet Arcy Canumay (Bicycle Mayor of Waterloo, Canada)
Meet Shelley Carr (Bicycle Mayor of London, Canada)
Meet Susan Stokhof (Bicycle Mayor of Victoria, Canada)
Meet Daniel Eppstein (Director of Operations at BYCS)
Meet Charise Stephens (Founder of the U Create Macon youth bike program)
Meet Andrea Learned (climate influence consultant)
Meet the Harding Family (empowered by ebikes)
Meet Bill Black (riding for fun and fitness)
Meet Rita Thrasher (adult trike/mountain bike coach extraordinaire)
Meet Audrey Parker (professor of neuroscience)
Meet 31 Women Making the USA More Welcoming for Riding Bikes (the “You Go Girl!’ Series)
Meet 13 Bike Tour Guides (from the Bicycle Tours of Atlanta Team)
***Welcoming routes around Metro Atlanta:
Wanna ride your bike in Metro Atlanta but not sure where to go beyond endless circles in your local park or the too-crowded Atlanta Beltline’s Eastside Trail? Here are thirteen Traveling at the Speed of Bike tours (a Baker’s dozen!) I’ve created for you as a PeopleForBikes Ambassador.
The self-guided tours are specifically designed to be welcoming and low-stress (based on traffic patterns and available infrastructure). They are as short as one mile (less, actually) and as long as ten miles (with most between two and six miles). I’ve also tried to limit the hills as much as possible, but Metro Atlanta is hilly so riding a bike with gears is recommended. For additional comfort, see my free classes and bonus resources for basic bike skills tips.
You can click the individual links below, or click on my smiley face here and then click the Classics tab and it will take you to all of them. You get route details, cue cards, photos, and more. Even if you don’t or can’t ride, you may enjoy a virtual pedal or two just by checking it all out. (If you live elsewhere, check out your local PeopleForBikes Ambassador’s routes, or consider creating routes of your own!)
3 More MARTA Murals while Traveling at the Speed of Bike (am still working this one)
Additional welcoming routes:
****Sample of additional “ride stories” as a PeopleForBikes Ambassador: