Bicycling advocacy group Bicycling for Louisville is not just about bike lanes. It works to support smarter urban development, healthier lifestyles, environmental stewardship and a strong local economy. These things make our city more bike-able — and they also make Louisville a better place to live, said Executive Director Chris Glasser. “A bike-able city avoids sprawl, promotes healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment, and supports local businesses. In short, it’s all interconnected.” Glasser took time to answer a few questions from LEO:
LEO: What’s the story behind Bicycling for Louisville, or B4L?
Chris Glasser: We are an 11-year-old bike advocacy organization with a nonprofit status. Our primary focus is on advocacy for biking in our community. We work with a small team to develop and maintain that biking is easy, safe and accessible in Louisville. We partner, or work closely, with metro government to ensure that there is funding for safe streets for bikes and pedestrians, as well. Once the money has been funded, we advocate for how the money can be used to create some cohesiveness throughout the city for easy biking. During the warm season, we also provide a lot of bike parking at events. These are our largest initiatives throughout the year and include Forecastle, Thunder Over Louisville and Waterfront Wednesday. Park Side Bikes is the sponsor of this initiative. It offers us tons of exposure, with fun and convenience for our community. Another important part of where we spend our time is on education. We want everyone to know that biking can be healthy and safe, while building community. Our audience includes everyone from 8 to 80! We support those who live their lives car-free, those who bike to the coffee shop on Sunday, residents who commute to work and families that are just out having a good time.
How does biking improve our community?
A good bike ride doesn’t exist in a vacuum, which is why we advocate for more than just bike lanes and other bike infrastructure. A bike-able city avoids sprawl, promotes healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment, and supports local businesses. In short, it’s all interconnected. You can’t have a bike-friendly city without good land use, healthy citizens, care for the environment and a thriving local economy. Bike parking is one example of how we help people get out to their cars to go do something fun, like a concert or event. The experience can lead them to begin riding their bikes for more that just fun. Riding to work or the grocery is now something that they can see as feasible.
What are ways to get involved?
We have a mailing list that includes about 1,000 people to keep people up to date on our advocacy efforts, and to encourage people to support them as well. And we have many people who donate, because they believe that bike advocacy and street safety are a worthy cause. Annually, our biggest events are during Bike Everywhere Month in May. One of the ways we love for people to get involved is to make their community events bike-friendly. For example, Crescent Hill has a Fourth of July community picnic. We can provide bike parking, making it convenient for people to arrive that way. It helps to instill the thought that you can bike everywhere.
In addition to the Bicycling for Louisville team, what other groups help to make your ideas a reality?
We investigate areas where we think the city can benefit by increasing bike and pedestrian traffic. Our team will make suggestions and offer ideas to the Public Works and Planning departments. Mayor Greg Fischer is an advocate for biking … which is a real plus for us. We also partner with engineering firms that help us put our ideas into actual plans. These groups are the professionals and help us to understand what is feasible and what is not. We also have been working on something called The Urban Bike Network for several years. The network starts downtown and trickles out going through Old Louisville, and we’ve grown it progressively into The Highlands, Clifton and Germantown. We are working now on moving west, into the California and Russell neighborhoods and as far as Shawnee Park. Our strategic plan includes constant expansion of this network with larger cities as our model.
Talk about the term ‘active transportation’ and how it supports community wellness.
Active transportation basically means using your physical body to get from one place to another, with biking as the primary example. Our goals are to help everyone understand that this is first possible and then secondly make it as safe and as easy as possible. One of our key concepts in that message is that if you are biking everywhere, you wont need to go to or pay for a gym membership. Many people are not exercising because of time restraints, so biking to and from work can be an easy way to add wellness to your day with out adding much more time. Your commute may be longer, but not as much as having to get in your car, drive somewhere, work out and then get back into your car to head home. Eventually active transportation becomes your norm benefiting both your health and your schedule. •
Lisa Flannery is a wellness coach who teaches yoga in Louisville and Southern Indiana. She promotes wellness through her show “The Wellness Hour,” at 11 a.m. Sundays on 100.9 WCHQ.
Bicycling for Louisville
On Twitter: bikes4lou