[Self Portrait by Andy Singer]
What do a cartoonist and a high school computer technology teacher have in common? A passion for cycling and bicycle advocacy. Andy Singer, cartoonist and illustrator and Ian Buck, podcaster and high school teacher, are both co-chairs of the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition, founded in 2010. They’re two dedicated advocates doing their best to make a city I love a better place to bike.
From Peddling as Children…
Both Andy and Ian share a similar story; they started biking as soon as they were able. Andy grew up in Brooklyn and learned to ride on a concrete basketball court in the neighborhood playground. After falling the first time, he figured out how to peddle on the second try and fell in love.
In college, Andy took a class in bike maintenance and touring. At the end of the semester, the class took a two-day trip around Cayuga Lake in upstate New York. By the time it was over, Andy was officially hooked.
Ian learned to bike at a young age and spent his time riding around the block in his neighborhood. Experiencing his first taste of freedom, he would ride his bike to events his parents didn’t want him to drive to. Ian soon realized there was no need for his own vehicle, and he continues to commute and get around St. Paul without one.
To St. Paul Cycling Advocacy
Andy and Ian are now co-chairs for the St. Paul Bicycle Coalition, a group committed to implementing and updating the St. Paul, Minnesota Bikeways plan. Andy began his advocacy efforts after realizing that other people fought for the bike lanes he was riding in. As an advocate, he believes that he is “paying his dues” for his ability to cycle.
For Ian, bike advocacy is about improving the world and making it possible for people to get around using a safer alternative than motorized vehicles. He believes that if he does his job well, others don’t have to worry about a safe place to bike and can instead enjoy their commute.
As a group, the coalition advocates for bikeways in Saint Paul and tries to get its supporters to write and email elected officials and turn out for public meetings. They also work with other local groups like the Sierra Club or the Midtown Greenway Coalition to promote bicycle infrastructure projects. Among these is an effort to extend a safe pathway without motorized vehicles called “the Midtown Greenway” across the Mississippi River into Saint Paul.
Andy and Ian also work hand-in-hand to create email newsletters and build a social media presence that allows more people to understand their work and how to get involved. In doing so, they hope to connect people who love cycling and build the biking community.
The St. Paul Bicycle Coalition’s Greatest Achievements Thus Far
The Coalition’s major achievements include:
- Adoption of the St. Paul Bikeways Plan in 2015
- The installation of bike lanes on Cleveland Avenue
- The creation of the Margaret Street Bikeway on the East Side of the city
- New bikeways on Upper Afton Road, Pelham Avenue, Raymond Avenue, Prior Avenue, Jefferson Avenue and many other city streets
- Helping start a downtown loop called the “Capital City Bikeway” that includes a finished segment on Jackson Street and interim implementation of segments on several other streets that will hopefully come in the summer of 2020
Getting Involved in Bicycle Advocacy Efforts
According to Andy, the best thing you can do to get involved is to simply “show up.” There are bicycle advocacy groups in nearly every city and state in the US. Ian found his way to the coalition by happenstance, visiting the library during one of their meet-ups. After checking it out, he immediately became a part of the group.
The Future of Cycling According to Andy and Ian
Andy and Ian both agree that bicycles are here to stay. After all, most cities have bike plans and improved infrastructure. According to Andy, changes made in cities such as St. Paul and New York will be implemented in more and more cities across the United States. And eventually, people will stop driving and start cycling.
Ian believes that the invention and use of e-bikes is going to convince a larger percentage of people to treat cycling as a serious transportation solution rather than just a hobby.
Regardless of what the future holds, you’ll still find Andy and Ian enjoying their own perfect biking days. Andy’s includes riding around with some friends on the many Twin City trails while Ian’s includes starting out in the morning on his bike and not returning until he has to.
The Future Is Bright for Cycling in St. Paul, Minnesota
As a bike attorney and advocate myself, I am passionate about ensuring the Twin Cities become a safe place for all cyclists. Lucky for me, with advocates like Andy and Ian around, I don’t have to do it alone. These two advocates and many others working tirelessly behind-the-scenes help solidify my belief that the future is bright for cycling in St. Paul and around the world.