Advocacy and Endorsements, the Next Step for Bike Advocacy?
Since L.A. Streetsblog started publishing twenty-six months ago, we’ve seen a boom in bike advocacy. Joining the LACBC; C.I.C.L.E. began doing more advocacy work, the Bike Writer’s Collective began pushing the Cyclists Bill of Rights to Neighborhood Councils and the City Council, the Bike Working Group decided to write their own Bike Plan, and more recently two groups have formed to, amongst other things, endorse candidates and ballot measures that promote bicycle friendliness in a way that a 501(c)3 cannot.
The first of these groups is Bikeside, a 501(c)4 meaning they can endorse candidates, which has gotten rave reviews for its efforts to map crash data, both LAPD data and cyclist reported crashes, promote the Bicycling Backbone Network. Now the group is endorsing candidates for Mar Vista, Venice and Westside Neighborhood Councils and holding candidate forums for Congressional candidates.
The main force behind Bikeside is Alex Thompson, who has a long list of activist achievements and was the writer of the "hyper opinionated" Westside BikeSIDE (which now redirects you automatically to Bikeside). Thompson is joined by Enci Box, Stephen Box, Eric Knutzen, Mihai Peteu and Sara Bond with most of the heavy lifting. In addition to the work maintaining and updating the Bikeside website/blog, they’ve also marshaled large groups of cyclists for Bike Working Group meetings and City Council meetings. If you want to help Bikeside spread the word, you can do so by volunteering at their website.
Our second group is the newly announced League of Bicycling Voters, Los Angeles; which was announced earlier today at Biking In L.A. This group is basing their efforts on the model provided by the Austin based League of Bicycling Voters, another 501c(4). This group, being spearheaded by Biking in L.A. author Ted Rogers, fellow LACBC Board Member Dr. Michael Cahn and Josef Bray-Ali, is in its formative phases and is looking for your help to decide what path it should follow to make the biggest impact. They’re planning a big meeting at UCLA on May 15 (check back for more details), but in the meantime you can join their Facebook Page or Google Group to get more updates.
At the aforementioned Facebook page, Dr. Cahn estimates that there are 300,000 cyclists in Los Angeles, but only 285,000 people voted in the last Mayoral election. If anyone doesn’t believe that these groups can make a difference in who this city elects to lead us, the cold math tells us that an organized bike community can make the difference.