Stand up too!
You’ve seen the photos blowing up social media sites these past few days—you know, those great shots of smiling people holding up protest signs telling the worldhow important bicycling is to them.
The photos are part of Stand Up for Cycling , a project designed by SBBIKE’s advocacy team. Its aim is to demonstrate the broad range of support for bicycling and cycling infrastructure that is present throughout the community of Santa Barbara.
Sam Franklin, SBBIKE advocacy coordinator, explains that the municipalities throughout the South Coast are currently working on updating their Bike Master Plans (BMPs), which will determine cycling infrastructure changes over the next 15 years. “But although it might be hard to believe, in Santa Barbara there is this question among staff and council as to whether the community supports bicycling.”
The project, he says, is a way to show that the community at large does want change—that it supports better cycling infrastructure that will make roads safer for all users and give more people the opportunity to make alternative transportation choices. Supporters aren’t just “the diehard advocates, the folks in spandex who ride 100 miles a weekend,” says Franklin. “In truth, it’s a much larger group—students, working people, mothers and fathers—who want these changes.”
Just two days in, Stand Up for Cycling has already demonstrated that. During the project launch over last weekend’s Earth Day festival, nearly 500 people lined up to produce 407 photographs. In the photos, groups and individuals display signs with messages such as, “We need better bikeways,” “I love cycling,” “Close the gaps,” and “Bikes mean business,” or created their own messages.
While Earth Day, Franklin points out, draws a crowd among whom many consider the bicycle a viable form of transportation, by no means was everyone who had his or her photo taken a diehard cyclist or a member of the bicycle coalition. “A lot of people who hadn’t even heard of us wanted to express themselves,” he says.
Many who visited the project were also unaware that Santa Barbara City is currently wondering whether the community would support new cycling infrastructure and engaged in a process of determining that. Franklin was happy for the opportunity to inform people.
Another aspect of Stand Up for Cycling he likes is its
positivity. The project allows people a fun way to express themselves. Franklin believes activism, at least in its traditional confrontational form, is less popular than it used to be. “I don’t think people enjoy that. We offered people a way to share their message—to do the protest thing—without the confrontational element. We offered them a way to talk about what they feel needs changing without the ‘anti’ aspect.”
This echoes the positive message of the bicycle coalition, adds Franklin. “We’re not a group of activists that wants everyone out of their cars. Our mission isn’t to tell people what they should do. People should choose for themselves how to travel. All we care about is that the people who choose to travel by bicycle have the infrastructure they need in place—that it’s safe and accessible. We’re not trying to change people’s behavior. We are just trying to make sure the facilities are there.”
The Stand Up for Cycling project will continue throughout the month of May. All who want to join this protest—to stand up for cycling and tell the city what changes they want to see—will find photo shoot opportunities at a number of the month’s CycleMAYnia events. At the end of May, project coordinators will present a p
hoto book to the city. This coincides with the city’s May and June deadline for determining the communities’ desires for cycling infrastructure.
But the photo shoot isn’t the only way to be heard on this issue. You can look up the BMP. Highlight routes on the map. Like its Facebook page. Fill out the survey in English or in Spanish . Engage with the city in the public input process it’s currently conducting. To learn more about this process, check out the spring Quick Release, pages 6 and 7. See the Earth Day photos.