On the Road with Julie Part 2: National Bike Summit

Posted on March 23, 2016 · Posted in General

(You can find Part 1: Colorado Bike Summit here.)

NBS1The National Bike Summit is an event that I’ve been attending for 8 years now, and it is something that I look forward to every year. The event is equal parts education and inspiration, with advocacy added for good measure.

This year’s summit, though, was different. After 3 years of a full day dedicated specifically to the Women’s Forum, the part of the agenda that was quickly becoming the most informative part of the event, this year’s agenda was more general across the board. Additionally, there wasn’t quite the sense of urgency that we’ve had in the past with our visits to our elected officials on Capitol Hill, since a transportation bill was finally passed in 2015.  Nonetheless, there were some a-ha moments to be had.

I specifically chose the session “Bikes as a Tool for Rural silver comet trail 1Economic Development” with the Cowboy Trail in mind. The Nebraska Tourism Commission’s new ag/eco-tourism consultant is working to make bicycles a big part of their focus, which presents a tremendous opportunity for our organization and our state.  Check out the amazing info showing the economic impact of the Silver Comet trail in Georgia.


Imagine what the Cowboy Trail could do for all of the small towns along Highway 20! A great marketing campaign coupled with education on how towns can make themselves bicycle friendly…the possibilities are amazing.  Here are some examples of what others have done.  –>

Another informative session that I found timely was focused on bike laws: “Everyone wants to be safer, but not all laws or law enforcement are equally effective at making bicyclists safer.”  The attorney for Quality Bicycle Products (and former member of the Board of Directors for the League of American Bicyclists) Matt Moore presented great data about the risk factors for bike crashes:

Urban Riding               68% of fatalities
Age                                   Average age is now 44
Y chromosome            Almost 5 times more men than women
Alcohol                           34% of fatal crashes (motorist or cyclist)
Drinking & Biking      24% of cyclists killed were over .01 BAC
Non-Intersection        57% were NOT killed at intersections
Later in the day           56% between 3pm and midnight
(I did not jot down the source/scope of this data; food for thought, nonetheless.)

Moore challenged the audience to consider whether certain types of laws actually improve safety. Some may increase awareness, which can be a positive out come, but do they actually make it SAFER? (Incidentally, the counsel for the Unicam’s Judiciary Committee had the same question for us when we discussed the potential of a Vulnerable User Law with her.)  Moore believes that education + promotion may be a more effective way to increase safety and that some safety laws may actually have unintended consequences that can end up backfiring and shifting the blame for crashes to the bicyclist.  This information will provide a good framework for discussion for our policy committee as we think through our positions on future legislative bills.

SFBC1A speaker from the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition had great advice about communication and messaging around bike laws.  A strong message is emotionally evocative, value-laden and inoculates from attacks.  My real-time tweeting during this session summed up the key takeaways well.

My flight home had me diving into even more inspirationJSK1, courtesy of the amazing Janette Sadik-Khan. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of her book, and so far, it has not disappointed. I touched down in Omaha with just enough time to reconnect with my family, repack my bags and head down the road to Kearney… which is where we will pick up with Part 3.