People take notice when 17,000 people bike to work on a single day, including your elected representatives. Bike to Work Day has grown more than 10% per year in recent years as more people choose to commute on two wheels. Despite this incredible growth, bicycling captures only limited attention from local governments. Bike to Work Day is your opportunity to advocate for bicycling by simply signing up and riding.
There are almost 80 local pit stops this year. Many local elected officials and decision makers will be in attendance for Bike to Work Day. Councilmembers, County Board Supervisors, State Delegates, State Senators, Members of Congress or even a Senator might make an appearance. Important decision makers such as Directors of Transportation Departments, officials from State Highway and DOTs and other planners and traffic engineers could be at a pit stop too. This is an ideal chance to speak with these decision-makers.
Follow these few tips to make the most of this opportunity:
- Know your elected officials and other decision makers – Use our handy legislator look-up tool and be familiar with your representatives. It’s also worth familiarizing yourself with local transportation officials such as the Director of transportation or Public Works.
- Ask if they are planning to attend Bike to Work Day – Send them a message and inquire if they are attending Bike to Work Day. Include in your message an invitation for them to attend a local pit stop.
- Plan what you want to say – Practice your elevator speech. You’re only going to get 30 seconds to speak to them. Introduce yourself, including where you live and what your bike commute looks like. Ask them to support a project or for their help in addressing an issue. Ask how to follow-up. Thank them for their support.
- Introduce yourself at the pit stop – Identify the official and introduce yourself. Be respectful of others speaking with them and wait your turn to speak.
- Thank them for attending and their support of bicycling – Appreciate their attendance of Bike to Work Day and general support of bicycling. It goes a long way to thank and appreciate people first. If they have recently supported a specific initiative, mention it and give credit where due.
- Have an “ask” – What do you want them to do? Have a one sentence “ask”. Good example include “could you send a letter of support to DOT about this bike trail?” or “please ask the state DOT to address the issue of biking on this road?”
- Be respectful of their time (be quick!!) – You might only get 30 seconds or less. Officials have busy schedules and multiple appointments in a single day. Be respectful of their time at an event.
- Follow-up that day – Make sure to ask how you can follow-up with them. Should you email them or is there a staffer who you should reach out to directly. Send a follow-up email that day!
If you need ideas of what to ask your representatives, see the WABA Advocacy Priority list and ask them to support these initiatives. The WABA Advocacy Priorities represent projects that serve bicyclists throughout the region.
And one last thing, don’t forget to register for Bike to Work Day: especially if you bike every day. This is the one day of the year to be counted (literally). Good luck being a bike advocate and have a great Bike to Work Day.