Simply put, Bikes Belong aims to get more people on bikes, more often.
The organisation is sponsored by the US bicycle industry. As such, its goal is a clear one: to make cycling more mainstream. But aside from the financial sense this makes for its sponsors, there’s a greater good at play too. Bikes Belong helps leverage money from both state and private coffers – $654 million at the last count – for investment in bike-related projects, including rail trails, BMX parks, trail centres and bike advocacy initiatives. Working at both grassroots and policy level, the organisation communicates with the press, garners interest, collates statistics and launches nationwide ad campaigns to promote all things cycling.
Such a large scale impetus is an important catalyst for change, and Bikes Belong has several broad reaching initiatives to its name.
Launched in 2010, People For Bikes is a petition that aims to collect a million names, creating a unified voice to help policy makers, the media and the public understand the needs of cyclists – whether they be commuters, recreational riders, racers or children cycling to school.
There’s also the Green Lane Project, a network of next generation bikeways that use the likes of curbs, planters and posts to protect cyclists from cars. The idea? To create convenient, safe and comfortable places to ride. According to Bikes Belong, a green lane is ‘more than just paint on a pavement. A green lane is a statement about how we experience our communities.’ The scheme has been adopted by six major cities across the US – Austin, Chicago, Memphis, Portland, San Francisco and Washington DC – to showcase cycling’s integral position within a truly multi-modal city.
The organisation also provides support for the Safer Routes to School National Partnership. Launched in 2007 and expanded in 2010, it’s a movement that strives to promote safe walking and cycling routes to school. The aim is to reduce the growing levels of obesity amongst school children, which has risen from 4% in 1969 to 35% in 2007; which, as it happens, appears to directly collate with the dwindling numbers who walk or cycle to school over a similar time period – from 48% to 13%.
Equally importantly, it’s a scheme that nurtures the very idea of sustainable communities amongst school children and their families, for the environmental foundations of tomorrow.
Photo credits – Bikes Belong and Green Lane Project