Category Archives: Advocacy

Jim Sayer: The Big Money Business of Bike Touring

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Adventure Cycling Association’s Executive Director Jim Sayer.

As winter turns to spring and the weather starts airing on the side of nice, cyclists give in to powerful daydreams of summer adventures to come. Staff meeting bullet points are lost to fantasies about dry singletrack in remote forests. Dreadful morning commutes in the pouring rain are rationalized as preparation for that big ride marked on a distant page of the calendar. And now, more than ever, those summer cycling trips are taking the form of bike tours. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but the cycling world is experiencing an undeniable bike travel boom, from fully supported luxury rides to self-supported cross-country tours to family bike rides out to the local park for a night of camping. Nonprofit Adventure Cycling Association has played a role in that growth. For the past 43 years, ACA’s been mapping routes, leading tours, and advocating for better bike touring conditions in North America. Executive Director Jim Sayer has been at the helm for the past 10 years. I spoke to Sayers about ACA’s work, his love for cycling and bike travel, bike tourism advocacy, the huge economic impact of bike travel, and more.

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Amanda Carey: Fighting for Podiums, Fighting for Access

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Amanda Carey atop the podium at the 2013 Trans-Sylvania Epic. Photo via Trans-Sylvania Epic.

Amanda Carey is Newton’s First Law personified. She started moving (and moving fast) a long time ago and seems incapable of stopping. Since college she’s been a Jackson Hole ski bum, land conservationist, bike and pedestrian advocate, professional mountain biker and cyclocross racer, coach, and Executive Director of a mountain bike advocacy nonprofit. Often times she was doing a few of those at any given time. As a pro mountain biker she focused her energy on 100-milers and multi-day stage racing, notching wins at the Breck Epic, Trans-Sylvania Epic, and Pisgah Stage Race and earning multiple National Ultra Endurance series overall titles. In December 2014 she started her new role as Executive Director of Mountain Bike the Tetons. It is perhaps unsurprising that we had lots to talk about. I spoke to Carey about her years as a professional racer, the appeal of endurance racing, her new life as a mountain bike advocate, the major access hurdles mountain bikers still face (and fat bikers are starting to face), and much more.

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Paul Steely White: On the Radical Idea that Cars Shouldn’t Kill

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Paul Steely White delivering thousands of letters to NYPD in 2011 demanding driver accountability. Photo via nag-brooklyn.org

New York is one of America’s most progressive bike cities. On one hand that makes perfect sense. As the biggest, fastest-paced city in the country it has always drawn forward-thinking, ambitious people; why not forward thinking, ambitious bike advocates? On the other, it’s kind of insane. New York has a sociopathic driving culture, a police force and political establishment historically apathetic to the idea that fatal crashes are anything but accidents, and millions of drivers, bicyclists, and walkers all vying for the same small space. Yet over the last decade, Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn have been remade into great places for biking and walking with protected bike lanes, pedestrian plazas, and more and the advocates at Transportation Alternatives (T.A.) have been there every step of the way.

Recently they’ve turned their attention to Vision Zero, a radical notion that traffic deaths in New York are completely preventable. Given that the city is still averaging between 200-300 fatal bike, pedestrian, and car crashes annually, they have a long way to go. But T.A. Executive Director Paul Steely White says the Vision Zero framework they’ve laid out can get them there if they can garner the political support and capital funding necessary. I spoke to White about his history in New York City advocacy, his role in one of America’s most influential advocacy organizations, the “golden years” of New York City bike advocacy, transforming transportation with Vision Zero, and much more.

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Mike McGinn: Fighting Bikelash with Seattle’s Former Mayor

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Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Photo by David Ryder.

Bikelash is a clever term that describes the hand-wringing cries of, “War On Cars!” that’s followed the installation of every inch of bike infrastructure in the US. Even in the bikiest cities such as Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York, new bike lanes are met with fear and anger. And though bike politics may always be divisive to some degree, in Seattle it felt like bikelash reached its virulent fever pitch during former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s term in office.

The mayor himself was a bikelash lightening rod. He aligned closely with biking and walking advocates during his campaign and his term (his team even handed out “Mike Bikes” stickers and spoke cards during his first campaign). He fought against a multi-billion dollar project to build a highway under Seattle. And he implemented highly visible arterial “road diet” projects that prioritized biking and walking safety over speed by reducing the number of car lanes. In return, the media, political opponents, and the public dismissed him as anti-car, out of touch, the biking mayor, and, my favorite of the bunch, Mayor McSchwinn. I sat down with McGinn near his home in north Seattle to talk about his experience with bikelash, dealing with divisive bike politics as mayor, the role of mayors in transforming streets, how advocates can assist electeds in their job, and much more.

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Austin Horse: From Courier to Career Adventurer

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Austin Horse. Photo via redbull.com

Bike messengers have a hard-earned image as punks, rebels, thrill-seekers, and outlaws. And deservedly so. They risk their own safety to bomb through cities between cars and pedestrians delivering packages for very low pay. It’s an image and lifestyle that captivated the mainstream cycling world for the better part of the previous decade, spurring on massive sales of fixed gear bikes and messenger bags large enough to hold a body. For some enterprising couriers, the popularity presented an opportunity to align with sponsors and escape the check-to-check lifestyle of full time delivery work.

Austin Horse partnered with big companies such as Red Bull and Oakley and bike companies such as Brooklyn Machine Works, All City, and Lazer and carved out a “wild and unpredictable” life for himself. He travels the world riding and racing in unique bike events, organizes his own races, and even worked as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s stunt double for the 2012 messenger movie Premium Rush. When he’s at home, Horse still works part time as a courier and as an advocate with his mobile bike co-op Bike Yard. I spoke to him while he waited in the airport for a flight to the Middle East about messenger life in New York, sanctioned vs unsanctioned racing, his bike adventures around the world, the evolution of biking in New York, and much more.

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