This past weekend I attended Oregon’s Bike + Walk Retreat right here in my hometown of Bend. Along with offering Traffic Safety 101 certification from the League of American Bicyclists, the conference also highlighted statewide conversations around successes and challenges of bicycle and active transportation advocacy.
As introductions went around the room during the first session of the retreat, I was pleased to hear that I was surrrounded by a diverse group of attendees. Backgrounds varied from educators to parents to state employees to bicycle advocates such as myself. The 5 Es of a bicycle friendly community served as guiding principles for our conversations each day and we came back to all 5 at various times. The 5 Es include Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation & Engineering. Many folks have added a 6th (and essential) E: Equity.
Ideas were flying as soon as the floor opened up for comments from the group, and from that point on, the constructive conversations never stopped. I heard brainstorming occur during lunchtime, in between sessions and even at the social mixer. The camaraderie and collective energy were palpable every day and this supportiveness was exhibited in force during our on-street bicycle safety evaluation ride. One woman who had been a bit timid on her bike all weekend executed a VERY busy intersection confidently and with a huge smile. Our group hooted and hollered as she signaled left and safely navigated into the parking lot where we were waiting. This collaborative atmosphere was the theme of the weekend; I know that she will bring her knowledge and the positive spirit of the retreat back to her community and inspire others to start pedaling.
Bikes change lives. I’m confident of it.
Here’s our bicycle safety class learning about bike maintenance:
And even Grizwald attended the evening mixer: