Katie Couric said on CBS national news, ‘There is something so right about a kid on a bike’.
For most of my professional career I have been working to bring bikes and kids together, teach people of all ages how to ride safely and make the environment better for everyone. From building more than 25,000 bikes for Toys R Us, to working with Trips for Kids to serve fragile neighborhoods, to serving on various boards promoting public transit, active transportation and better air quality, I have seen this community change dramatically.
In the mid 1990’s I began spending larger and larger portions of my life on bike training for the Race Across America. During that time I began to focus on understanding the conflicts putting road users’ safety at risk and expanded it to include the built environment and accessibility. I sought others with a shared interest, and finding a like cadre of passionate people, we worked to create Charlotte’s first bicycle advocacy group and chartered it as Bicyclists Initiating Kinder Environments and Safety (BIKES). We worked with others to develop Charlotte’s first master bike plan in more than twenty years. From that plan, we created policies and rules to further enhance safety and accessibility for various groups. For cyclists, we created the Mecklenburg/Union Bicycle Suitability Map to help navigate our city. For transit users, we began to integrate bike racks on all buses and park and ride lots. For recreational riders, we constructed greenways in concert with water mitigation projects. For our schools, we created sidewalks, recreational facilities and successfully pushed for education curriculums.
With the maturation of the Safe Routes to School movement and North Carolina’s adoption of the Complete Streets policies, there is a more coordinated effort to increase Safe Routes to School programs and infrastructure improvements. As a change agent, I welcomed the opportunity to join the Safe Routes Partnership team and translate these successes on the local level across our state. I believe North Carolina is committed to and poised for great changes in active transportation choices and healthy lifestyles. Being at the Safe Routes Partnership allows me to champion all the great work and people who are committed to make the programs, polices, our environment and our lives better.
Stay tuned for more information about what is happening with Safe Routes to School in North Carolina and contact me to join the North Carolina network list and share your stories!