Monday, August 10, 2009

The Bike Lobby in Motion

Over the weekend, the Rivers Casino re-opened the North Shore trail section their year-long construction was blockading. They also erected signs which said that bikers were not allowed to ride their bike on the trail past the casino, and instead had to dismount and walk their bikes, a rule that was actively being enforced on the trail. This immediately caused an uproar amongst the biking community. But a funny thing happened. Mayor Ravenstahl and County Executive Onorato both jumped on board the bikers side. As of this afternoon, the crisis is over. The signs will be changed to say: "Proceed with Caution."

The casino spokesman whined: You didn't have to go to the media. You should have just called us.

The city of bikers rolled their eyes collectively: You didn't have to put up the signs.

As a side note, some fresh bike lanes were painted in the Strip District this weekend.
Are things changing in this city? And do we need to be wary of the power of bikers? And most importantly, is there anyway this new faction can be motivated to bring about change in the city beyond their two wheels?


Leon said...

And most importantly, is there anyway this new faction can be motivated to bring about change in the city beyond their two wheels?

interesting question, but the framing of the question makes us seem only self serving (which is what i assume you were implying?). the thing is, as any cycling advocate will tell you, making cycling more accessible and appealing benefits many different issues beyond just "two wheels." aside from the idea of promoting a healthier populace, cleaner air, less congestion, etc, advocates also know that what we are doing helps push the larger urban agenda. cycling by nature is local, so you have to live fairly close to where you want to go (work, play, etc) in order to ride there. that's why bicycle advocates are usually at the forefront of "livable streets" and complete streets initiatives. we all know that making it more convenient to get people out of their cars, whether that means that they are walking, cycling, or walking and cycling to take the bus, it benefits everyone in the city. You will also find cycling advocates sticking up for pedestrians and transit users as well (it's difficult to organize peds). thinking that we are only self-serving is missing the bigger picture.

my question to you is, do you hold other issue oriented advocates to the same standard?

illyrias said...

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I didn't mean to imply you were selfish - just normal. It's a great thing to see a group of such motivated people, and I'd love to see that motivation brought to the huge tasks of solving the city's pension crisis, ending city corruption, and fixing city schools.

Too much to ask? Yes. Fixing the city's landscape will probably have to do for now.

By the way, the Youth Earn-a-Bike program seems like a great idea, and right up the alley of what I was thinking.

If we could take it further and collectively get Bike-PGH behind the vision that every kid in this city should have the opportunity to learn to repair their own bikes, think about how life-changing that could be.

Leon said...

thanks for clarifying. i agree. one thing to consider is that BikePGH and Free Ride have only been around for only 7 years.

when you go to other bike friendly cities, people need to realize that cyclists have been organizing there since the 70's!

It's interesting to see a post about Pittsburgh having a "bike lobby" now - something that people would have laughed at only a few years ago. That's exactly how other cities, that many consider "great urban areas" have gotten what they have.