May 12, 2020

Google Maps ‘Bike There’

In our Big Initiatives post, #13 was to:

13) Create and promote a “town hall”—virtual and/or physical—that can connect the entire bicycle, pedestrian, and mass-transit community.

Well, we’re finally going to start addressing the “virtual” half of this equation, with what we hope will become a worldwide bike blog network, BikeBlogs.org. The first blog in the network is San Francisco, at sf.bikeblogs.org. News and information at the main URL, bikeblogs.org, will be restricted to news about the operation of the network (e.g. new city/town announcements), and possibly national and international bike news. If a local bike blog, like sf.bikeblogs.org, covers a national news story, it will do so by relating it back to the local community. This makes sense for various reasons, but it goes particularly well with our mission of helping to build up the self-sufficiency and vibrancy of the local bike community in each city and town we operate. We want to be able to mobilize when we need to.

Since about the second time I visited BikePortland.org, I started thinking, “Why doesn’t Palo Alto have a bike blog? Where is BikePaloAlto.org?” (I was living in Palo Alto at the time.)

The more I read BikePortland.org, the more I became convinced of its importance to the bicycling community, there. Of course there were hundreds/thousands of bikers participating all over Greater Portland to make good bike things happen, but BikePortland.org seemed to have an amplifying effect. Whatever bike advocates in Portland were up to, they were made more effective because of BikePortland.org—and they knew they had a voice in the media that would give them a fair hearing. And for everyday bike riders, they could learn the ins and outs of riding a bike, and could easily get involved in bicycle advocacy because of Forums and other collaboration features of the website. We want every town to be able to experience this.

StreetsBlog is a great blog (network) that is doing great work, too. They already cover New York City and Los Angeles.

StreetFilms, while not necessarily a bike blog network, is having a tremendous impact on bike advocacy efforts all over the U.S., if not the world. Their films are forces of nature; they’re so good that sometimes I think long-time bicyclists must have suffered an awful lot to justify our good fortune these days. In our advocacy efforts, we sometimes have only to point to a full-motion, skillfully-edited, and highly informative video clip of exactly the type of public policy we want our local governments to adopt. The videos are overpowering. They’re an absolute gift. I’m glad StreetFilms is on our side. 

And there are countless other hard-working bloggers, videobloggers, Twitterers, etc., all over the U.S., and all over the world who are helping to bring that shared sense of purpose to their towns, and we applaud them all—please keep up the good work. It is true that anybody can blog, but not everybody has resources (time, money, etc.) to write an informative blog that really serves the public good.

At a high level, BikeBlogs is no different than any other type of bike advocacy—it’s organizing—pooling resources and working together to be larger and more effective than the sum of our parts. We want to help those hundreds/thousands of bloggers out there who really love bicycles and the bicycle lifestyle, but don’t have the several hours a day to spend keeping their blogs updated often enough, dealing with technology issues, trying to dig for bike information from the recent town council meeting while holding down a job and taking care of the kids, and so forth.

You might also like reading Google Maps Bike There…for a safer, healthier, happier world. :-)

And we’re particularly concerned that smaller towns might not have the resources to make a stand-out bicycle blog. We want to do everything we can to make sure that Small Town, USA, and Small Town, Anywhere In The World, is able to start and run a first-class bike blog.

We hope this works. We’ll give it our best shot.

Related Post: Austin Bike Blog becomes Austin on Two Wheels

Having the “physical town hall,” I believe, is equally important. It can even be someone’s living room, and it can be as often or seldom as you want—once a month or once a week; it’s up to y’all. Some of the bike shops in Austin, TX would have a weekly or monthly Bike-In Movie Night (old article), kind of a play on the old Drive-in theatres; they can be multi-functional meetups. And maybe they should be: too much policy talk can get boring in a hurry.

Related Article: Northend Greenway Candidate Forum – the CliffsNotes