Category Archives: Advocacy

Episode 4: A Brief History Of The American Sharrow

It may come as a surprise, but in some circles of the bike world, sharrows are a source of passionate debate. Are they a lip service from cities hoping to appease cyclists without spending any money or political capital? Are they a viable form of safe infrastructure? In this episode, we trace the origins of sharrows back to their inventor James Mackay, P.E., a former Denver bike planner and talk to bike advocate Noah Budnick and University of Denver, Colorado professor Wes Marshall to look at the evolution of biking and bike infrastructure in America over the last 25 years.

Music:
“Bicycle,” “Night Cave,” “Finding the Balance”
Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Announcing The Bicycle Story Podcast! Episode 1: Bike Skills Save Lives

Today marks a big shift for The Bicycle Story and I’m all kinds of excited about it. But for those of you who just want the goods, let me first tell you about episode one of the brand new podcast!

Bikes changed Khalil Brewers’ life. The 19 year old went through Bike Works’ Job Skills Program, which helped put him on a path towards success and away from gang life. In this episode, we learn about Brewers’ dark past in St. Louis, his experience with Bike Works and its jobs program lead Ben Schultz, and the future he’s heading towards. (Songs: Soporific & Odyssey Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

So with that said. The Bicycle Story’s 5th anniversary (!) looms just a few days away. Through the years I’ve had the chance to interview a ton of amazing people from all corners of the bicycling world and share their stories as Q&As. But now it’s time for a fresh approach. As it’s always been, bikes and the many fascinating people and stories associated with them are the through line. The difference is now I’ll be telling those stories in a short, narrative podcast (think 99 Percent Invisible or an act of This American Life). Audio opens up a world of potential and I’m thrilled to see where it takes me and the site.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for supporting the site for half a decade. I hope you’ll stick around for this great new chapter of The Bicycle Story.

Cheers,
Josh

Davey Oil: The Radical Activist Pushing Family Bikes in the Mainstream

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Davey Oil in front of his family cargo bike shop in Seattle. Photo by Josh Cohen.

If you ride bikes in Seattle, you likely know a bit about Davey Oil. As co-owner of the family cargo bike shop G&O Family Cyclery he’s played a critical role in Seattle’s family biking boom. As a longtime bike activist, he’s worked for and been involved in Bike Works, Cascade Bike Club, the Bikery, critical mass and more. Having straddled the fence between the radical activist side of the bike movement and the insider-politics advocacy side, he has a valuable perspective on the growth of cycling-as-transportation in the city. I sat down with him at a coffee shop next to the Family Cyclery for a wide ranging conversation about his roots in activism, the rise and fall (and re-rise and re-fall) of Seattle critical mass, the mainstreaming of bike politics locally and nationally, the advocacy world’s struggles with diversity, the family biking boom, and much more.

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Clarence Eckerson Jr: The Revolution Will Be Televised

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Clarence Eckerson Jr. is founder of Street Films. Photo courtesy Clarence Eckerson Jr.

I’m pretty sure my introduction to Street Films was “Hal Grades Your Bike Locking.” In it, a brash, dread-headed bike mechanic named Hal Ruzal walks around New York City grading people’s lock jobs (mostly Fs) and explaining how they could do better. The point was not to show how dumb New Yorkers are about protecting their bikes. It was to educate people about the very real threat of bike theft. Education is the point of all of the nearly-500 Street Films that have been produced since its launch in 2007. They show the best of biking, walking, transit, and street design (and occasionally the worst) to help people learn improve their own communities and lives.

That Street Films is driven by positivity and a desire to educate is little surprise given how cheerful and positive its founder Clarence Eckerson Jr. is. Through the course of our phone interview, his answers were constantly punctuated by laughter. In between laughs, Eckerson told me about Street Films’ history, his life as a filmmaker and streets advocate, the critical intersection of advocacy and mass media, and much more.

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Brook Negussie: Cycling’s Lessons For Success

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Brook Negussie on the University of Washington campus. Photos courtesy Brook Negussie.

This year’s national Youth Bike Summit kicked off with short, TED Talk-esq presentations by advocates, industry execs, a former Olympic track racer and others. After the polished professional speakers had given their spiels, a young man named Brook Negussie stepped up to the podium to share his own powerful story. A 19-year old freshman at University of Washington, Negussie has immigrated to SeaTac, Washington from Ethiopia when he was 9. When he was in high school he got involved with the Major Taylor Project, a program run by Cascade Bicycle Club that brings bike clubs to under-served schools in the Seattle area. The kids in Major Taylor learn bike repair skills, go on after school rides, participate in bigger ride events and races, and more. [Read The Bicycle Story’s interview with Major Taylor Project founder Ed Ewing.]

Speaking to the crowd of youth and adult advocates at the Summit, Negussie credited the Major Taylor Project for giving him the skills and motivation necessary to tackle any challenge. I sat down with Negussie at a coffee shop near the UW campus to learn more about his experience immigrating to the U.S., the role bikes have played in his life, Major Taylor’s impact and more.

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