Curious How You Can Help Influence Safer Streets, Learn Political Process?

By Bill Plock

On Thursday morning, January 23, support cycling, meet lawmakers and other passionate cyclists at the State Capitol from 8 to 10 a.m. Bicycle Colorado is providing this opportunity. No experience is required, all that is needed is you caring about safe roads for cycling. You don’t have to be seasoned advocate to be effective. You don’t really have to know the laws in detail or the process, just show up with some passion about learning and spreading the love you have to ride bikes–safely. Register here for this free event: bit.ly/2020ssd

I remember the first time I attended the Safe Streets Day a few years ago. We gathered in the foyer of the state Capitol with bagels and coffee with others who wanted to learn and make a difference, or maybe just learn how to make a difference. There is an art to advocacy. Some people are very passionate, informed and eager to share their ideas with lawmakers. Others are subtle, maybe not as clear about how the political process works, maybe a little timid, but nevertheless convicted in their beliefs. I think the latter describes me best. I stood listening to more seasoned advocates interact with lawmakers in a casual way, shooting the “$*%!” so to speak and building camaraderie. Suddenly, I was swept into the office of a state legislator from Westminster by Bike Jeffco’s Mike Raber to talk about how to make 100th Street safer.

If you know Mike, you know his passion for safe roads and you know he knows the laws and knows how the process works. His articulate and passionate way of speaking is inspiring. I didn’t have a lot to add to the conversation other than recalling rides on that road with no shoulder and some tricky visibility passing a place where someone had recently been killed–thus the motive talking about that road specifically.

But I learned a lot. I learned that many of these lawmakers, who do want safe roads, who do care about cycling, don’t have intimate knowledge of the roads and conditions we, as more passionate cyclists, encounter. They are pulled in so many directions that ten minutes with them, offering full details about some of the challenges cyclists face and how it impacts us can make a big difference.

You have probably seen a new campaign, It Could Be Me, started by Triny Willerton, gain traction over the last year. Part of her mission, as I see it, is to “humanize” cyclists and build a movement emphasizing cyclists are people on the road just like motorists, and deserve the same consideration and respect given to anyone else on the road.

Thursday you will have a similar opportunity to be a person first, and then a cyclist who cares. You will meet with those that vote on critical safety bills. Here they will meet YOU and hear your story. The more people they meet, the more stories they hear can only offer greater perspective and empathy as they contemplate new laws and statutes.

Come learn and make a difference!

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