Helping America Recover and Move Forward with Bikes sports-masters August 12, 2020 Cycling, Featured, Health, News 255 PeopleForBikes is an industry coalition of bicycling suppliers and retailers as well as a charitable foundation that implements cycling programs and engages individual members, affiliate organizations and corporate sponsors. The organization recently appointed Jenn Dice as their new President and CEO. Upon taking on her new role, Jenn Dice penned the following message: COVID-19 has become a universal forcing function across all aspects of American life. It’s devastating effects are making us re-examine how we work, gather, learn, shop, dine, access basic services and move around our cities and communities. We have changed our habits, are staying closer to home, reconnecting with our neighborhoods and turning to the bicycle in droves. You have seen the headlines and likely witnessed it firsthand — Americans are biking more. For short trips, for family recreation, to access essential services, to avoid crowded public transportation and for a safe and healthy way to simply get out of the house. Since late March, in towns big and small, we have seen an influx of new, returning and avid bicyclists take to the roads and we have officially entered a bike boom. Demand for most categories of bikes has doubled and national bike counters are averaging a 20% increase since March in daily riders (up 90% in some parts of the country). More than just riding a bike for recreation and fun, we are witnessing a momentum for bikes as an instrument of change. Bikes can be a smart solution to help improve urban mobility, air quality, traffic congestion and mental and physical health. Bikes can also play an important role in our climate change goals, resiliency planning and mobility justice. As the new president and CEO of PeopleForBikes, my vision for biking in America is to emerge from COVID-19 better than before — for bikes, for our communities and for our planet. With your help, we can use this moment in time to make our communities better and safer for bikes. Let’s welcome and include new riders and help keep them going. Planning for a better future also means focusing on getting more kids on bikes. It doesn’t take much to help them develop bicycling as a lifelong hobby and passion. I believe that bikes can play an important role in helping America recover and we can show cities the many solutions they can provide. Momentum for Recreational Riding With gyms closed and camps and school activities canceled, family and recreational biking is going strong. More than 22% of Americans reported purchasing a bike since COVID-19 closures began with 27% intending to buy one this summer. Two-thirds of those who purchased a bicycle have children. Further, 85% of PeopleForBikes members said they introduced a new person to cycling during the COVID-19 pandemic and predict that 92% of these new riders will keep riding even after restrictions are lifted. There is also momentum in Congress to fund bike-related programs at a much higher level, better connect bike paths to complete networks, cut down the red tape to access federal funding and link bikes to being part of a climate change solution. We have been working around the clock at the federal, state and local levels to increase funding and access for both recreational and transportation riding. Momentum to Better Move Around Your City Not since the early 20th century have cities been able to experience life without cars. Clearer skies, quieter neighborhoods, open streets and the opportunity to safely move around a city offer residents the ability to observe their community through an entirely new lens. This renewed sense of community has accompanied a resurgent demand for safe and convenient bike networks nationwide. During COVID-19 closures, walking and biking have been among the most popular forms of exercise, and 40% of respondents indicate that they intend to walk or bike more often after COVID restrictions are lifted. Even more, there is momentum for changing the way our streets operate to support better biking now and into the future. In a survey conducted in May 2020 to evaluate public support for pop-up bike lane and street closures during the pandemic, 62% of respondents supported building bike lanes, 60% supported car-free areas and 30% supported reducing speed limits in residential areas. With careful, inclusive planning, cities have majority support from residents to build connected, comfortable mobility networks that allow everyone to travel throughout their communities safely. Cities face an uncertain future: high unemployment, phased school re-openings, limited capacity on public transportation and projected budget deficits only serve to make a better case for why bicycling should become a central strategy to any community’s recovery plans. Whether it’s via protected bike lanes, traffic-calmed streets, bike share programs, bike commuting tax credits or e-bike purchase incentives, there is no faster, cheaper or cleaner way to move around a city than on a bike. We can give everyone more options to get where they need to go quickly and safely by building bike infrastructure into our transportation improvement planning. Momentum for Active Transportation, Public Health and Climate Action COVID-19 has forced us to look at America’s climate, public health and physical activity crises in entirely new ways. Environmental degradation, poor air quality and more than $117 billion in direct and indirect physical inactivity costs were sounding alarms before the pandemic; now they are urgent cries for action. On the positive side, stay-at-home orders have fostered a renewed interest in walking and biking for mental and physical health. 61% of respondents report they are walking more and 44% report an increase in bicycle riding. Our research demonstrates more than half of Americans have changed their commuting habits as a result of COVID, and they plan to make those changes permanent — including walking and biking more often. This change in the behavior of Americans can build momentum towards permanently changing public health habits. With 50% of all trips being less than four miles in large U.S. cities, choosing to go by bike instead of car can change our public health habits for the better. Communities are now looking locally and seeking healthy and safe ways to live, work and shop that will have sustaining effects on activity levels and our planet. Momentum for Mobility Justice We are committed to using PeopleForBikes’ collective influence to fight for mobility and racial justice. We believe in our mission of making biking better for everyone, and understand that statement is not felt by many of our fellow citizens. BIPOC Americans who bike are more likely to get hit by cars and feel personally unsafe while on a bike, navigating racial profiling and police harassment among other hurdles. We know that bikes can’t solve racism in America, but we can use our voice, programs and partners within our reach to create positive change. Our goal is to keep the momentum going internally and with each one of our partners to listen, learn and take action. If we want to make sure that bicycling is welcoming and includes bicyclists of all races, abilities, gender and sexual identities, ages and more, we need to start with where we work. Momentum for the Bike Industry For the bike industry side of our work, our vision is a data and technology-driven modern trade association. Our new Business Intelligence Hub has allowed better insights into participation numbers, retail sales and consumer trends. Our COVID-19 Resource Center is full of helpful assets and materials to help bike businesses navigate the COVID business landscape. We have more than 70 new members joining our 280 supplier/brand members and more than 100 volunteer leaders steering our work and moving us forward. E-bikes continue to be an opportunity to get new people on bikes, reduce commute travel distances and break down barriers for unlikely cyclists. We also created a new sustainability working group and are partnering with the outdoor industry on climate action. PeopleForBikes sees opportunity and hope for the future of America with the help of bikes. Through our work at every level of government, from local ballot measures to federal bike infrastructure funding and stimulus packages, to working with cities on improving mobility and racial justice, we’re using our wide-spread influence to prove that bikes can help move our nation forward. But it takes more than one organization, and one CEO, to truly enact lasting change. By working together, we can make that vision a reality and prove that when people ride bikes, great things happen. For more information, visit PeopleForBikes at https://peopleforbikes.org/ About Jenn Dice Growing up in South Dakota, Jenn biked on dirt roads all across the state before falling in love with mountain biking when she moved to Colorado after graduate school. An avid endurance mountain biker, Jenn has completed the Leadville Trail 100 race 14 times, hiked up and biked down Mount Kilimanjaro (twice). With countless bike adventures and new friends along the way, Jenn even met her husband on a bike. Jenn has been leading the charge for bicycling, and is a strong voice for public lands protection, conservation efforts and women’s initiatives and has served on numerous boards and national coalitions. After spending more than a decade at the International Mountain Bicycling Association and an induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame for work in mountain bike advocacy, Jenn joined PeopleForBikes in 2013. Upon her arrival, Jenn created the PeopleForBikes Business Network — a federal, state and local policy program to increase funding and access for bikes nationwide. Later, she spearheaded the merger of PeopleForBikes and the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association to advocate for better bike business policy federally and in all 50 states leading to dozens of important biking initiatives at the state and local level. Now at the helm of PeopleForBikes, Jenn is ready to lead the bike industry. From working to position bikes both federally and locally as an essential and prominent part of COVID recovery, to addressing racial injustice, and also working towards creating a positive change both within the bike industry and at large.