Louis Armstrong got it right when he sang, “When you smile, keep on smiling and the whole world smiles with you.” When you carry yourself with confidence, exude happiness and are approachable and considerate, you will get the best results from your interactions with others.
We need to take this philosophy into the world of cycling. Whether it’s commuting by bike, taking the family out for a spin on a bike path, or competitive cycling — bike riders need to be respectful to one another, drivers, pedestrians and the law. Why? Because we have a huge stake in taking ridership forward in Tucson.
You may not realize it, or think about it, but every time you ride out on your bike, you are an ambassador for the sport and the habit of biking. One way to increase ridership and gain buy-in and respect for biking in Tucson is for current riders to represent cycling in a safe and positive light.
The more responsible, safe cyclists that people see on our roads, the closer we’ll get to breaking down a lot of the fears and misconceptions that surround biking in Tucson. If we portray cycling as a fun, safe way to get around town, more people will want to join in!
In a recent post, Tucson Velo announced that Ian Johnson would be the new Tucson-Pima County Bicycle Advisory Comittee Chair. Johnson makes two interesting statements that relate to this idea of bike ambassadorship.
First, Johnson says that one of the biggest challenges for increasing ridership here is “the perception that bicycling is a weird activity or is a recreational activity that only students and children enjoy — or weirdos.” Our city is built for cars, so it’s no surprise that many Tucson residents see bicycling as a fringe activity that only a minority of the population participates in.
Then Johnson says that his goal is to change that perception of cycling. So that it’s not just seen as a hobby but instead as “a completely legitimate and respected form of transportation.” He wants to educate drivers and cyclists about sharing the road and interacting in a civilized and safe manner.
I want to live in a city where bicycling takes hold not just as a fun hobby but a legitimate source of transportation. I think people learn by example and find safety in numbers. The more responsible, safe cyclists that our community members see on the streets, the more likely it is for new cyclists to want to hop on a bike themselves.
What do you think Tucson cyclists and bike commuters can do to better represent biking as a sport and a means for transportation? What can we do as a community to make cycling safer for everyone? Please share your thoughts and anecdotes in the comments below.