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Report on the First Annual North Carolina Bike Summit

Those of you who know me (Ann) know I’m not a big fan of meetings. I’d rather be riding my bike than talking about how to ride my bike. But the First Annual North Carolina Bike Summit was an exception to my general meeting antipathy. The fact that the summit organizers were able to attract 175 people from around the State shows the growing excitement around cycling and the growing desire to unite the cycling community. That excitement was definitely carried into the Summit.

The Summit was held all day Friday, October 12 and half of Saturday, October 13 at NC State’s McKimmon Center in Raleigh. Friday consisted mainly of breakout sessions on numerous topics, including community involvement, infrastructure, planning, and education. Since we’re trying to plan Charlotte’s first large scale Open Streets event, I attended the presentation on Open Streets planning, which included a case study of Durham’s successful event series. Here is the agenda for the whole program.

I also attended Education Strategies and Campaigns, where we heard from Steven Goodridge and Lt. Tim Tomczak of the Raleigh Police Department about educating and training police officers on how to properly enforce laws affecting cyclists. We also heard from Deb Thompson of  The Adam Little Foundation about that organization’s broad-based efforts to educate drivers and cyclists on how to share the roads safely.

It’s difficult to pinpoint the most inspiring session of the Summit, but if forced to choose, I would probably say the brainstorming session on Saturday. In that session, all attendees sat in one room together and brainstormed for one hour each of three topics: (1) NCDOT Master Plan development (2) Health and Wellness (3) Policy & Politics focus group.

As advocates, we often complain about the fragmented nature of cycling advocacy. Shouldn’t all of our many local groups all be united somehow under a larger umbrella? Why? (1) Power in numbers in influencing lawmakers (2) distributing resources efficiently by not duplicating efforts and (3) improving our efforts and gaining ideas by learning from other organizations – what has worked well and what hasn’t. Of course, it is still important to focus efforts locally and on local issues, and local groups should maintain their autonomy and missions. But those efforts would become more effective by drawing on the strength of a larger organization.

I believe the Summit was the first step in that direction. For the first time in North Carolina, we talked about uniting and had the players there necessary to commit to that effort.

For another report, see: http://www.peoplepoweredmovement.org/site/index.php/site/blog/4257/

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