First-Timer's Report of the National Bike Summit

A look at what it’s like to attend the National Bike Summit for the first time.

By Emelye Sturges, Bike Parking Sales Manager

As a cyclist, and as someone who's been involved with some aspect of the bike industry over the past 6 years, I was aware of the hard work the League of American Cyclists does for bike infrastructure and advocacy in America. This year I was fortunate to see it first-hand when I attended the League's National Bike Summit in Washington, DC.

Experiencing the Summit is like no other. There is an energy when a group of individuals from all areas of the country with different types of infrastructure come together to share ideas to build better cycling communities nationwide.

The Summit offers many seminars including "Breakout Tools for Recreational and Rural Road Advocacy, Improving Rumble Strips and Chip Seal", "Storytelling for Social & Traditional Media Outreach", and "How to use The National Bike Challenge to Successfully Market Your Business, Community, and Bike-club."

Attending the National Bike Summit is an experience like no other.

My focus during the summit was to broaden my knowledge of engaging youth in advocacy and education, along with how to encourage new cyclists. Being a part of a community of cyclists, I believe in inclusion and sharing the love of two wheels. I see this opportunity as a two-step process. The first step is education, whether gaining the tools you need to work on your bike so you can feel independent and learning the "rules of the road". The second step is understanding best practices from why you should feel comfortable and confident wearing a helmet, and how to ride in a group and share the road.

While at the Summit I attended a session on "How to Bring in New Cyclists to your Coalition."This was a great opportunity to learn about the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and how they have perfected the use of the term "Leadership Training" instead of "Advocacy."We also heard from Nedra of Civil Bikes in Georgia and how they are empowering riders and developing Bike/Walk culture influences on a state level.

Attending a session on Youth Bike Leaders and how they are influencing the future of cycling.

Another great part about attending the Summit is I get to put a face to the names of industry leaders I work with on a regular basis. Saris Cycling Group is in its second year offering the brand advocate program which focuses on inspiring more "butts on bikes." Through this program our advocates work within their community to increase cycling infrastructure and support cycling events in their area. A few of our advocates attended the Summit, including Bruce from Carmel, Indiana, who was featured here on our blog in 2016.

Emelye with Bruce Kimball, one of Saris' Brand Advocates and a long-time cyclist and supporter from Carmel, IN.

Starting the conversation during lunch.Had a full table of industry leaders excited to discuss Bike Parking at the Summit where great ideas were shared!

On my last day of attendance at the Summit, I was excited (and nervous) to experience my first Lobby Day!Lobby Day is when advocates get to speak to their house representatives in Washington and share why creating bills that support biking and walking is important.

The Wisconsin Bike Fed wrote a great piece about the topics discussed with our Wisconsin representatives. I learned that you can only meet with the representatives from your district, so next year I'm hoping we will have more constituents from other districts (hint hint: hometown Winnebago County).

After my time on Capitol Hill I used Capital Bike share to enjoy the beautiful 60 degree weather and sunshine that we don't get treated to back in Wisconsin this time of year. I navigated the network of protected bike lanes and bike boulevards to visit a few of our partners in that area that specialize in bike parking projects.

Pausing to appreciate a Bike Fixation Deluxe Public Work Stand right off the bike path.

All in all, the Summit was a fantastic experience and I learned a lot about the hurdles and hard work that comes with cycling advocacy.I gathered that advocacy can seem like a thankless job sometimes but trust me, communities come together when safe bike and walk infrastructure is available.If this post can do anything I hope it inspires more community members to come out of the woodwork and become Bike/walk advocates.Our future needs you now.

Using the Capital bike share and cheesin' at the National Mall.