May 06, 2009 Sami Martinez Uncategorized
Scott Truett and Dan Sepello, co-owners of Hamilton’s Adventure Bikes & Boards, believe that the “near-perfect storm” compelling people to ride bikes has arrived. Truett recently traveled to Washington, DC to attend the National Bike Summit. There, he met with other bicycle advocates, visited the offices of New York State legislators, and pushed the hot topic of bicycling.
“We’ve got problems with childhood obesity, traffic congestion, parking issues, greenhouse gases, escalating fuel prices and an economy in a state of upheaval,” said Truett. “Bikes aren’t going to solve all our problems but they can sure make a difference.”
For Truett, it is all about advocacy.
“I’d like to see more people riding, not because it’s good for our business but because it’s good for people,” Truett said. He recalls the freedom and independence that came from his bicycle when he was a kid. “We had a different awareness of it then, but it’s still joyful to ride my bike home to my apartment at the end of the day, a good way to burn off some energy, and still make decent time.” He looks forward to May being celebrated as National Bike Month.
From March 10 through 13, nearly 600 like-minded individuals — bike shop owners, bike and accessory manufacturers, trail coordinators, and others involved in the bicycling industry — gathered at the National Bike Summit sponsored by the American League of Bicyclists and Bikes Belong, among a host of other organizations, in the nation’s capital. The summit offered opportunities for advocates to learn what bicycling programs around the country are accomplishing, to support legislation to improve cycling as an alternative transportation and also to promote safety and funding for cycling programs. More than a dozen attendees were from New York State, mostly representing New York City. Delegates from around the world shared stories about bicycle programs, with a notable representative from Denmark talking about Copenhagen’s goal to increase their current bike commuting from 36 to 50 percent. In Copenhagen, the infrastructure is well established, bike riders have rights and safety protection, and even traffic lights are timed at 12 mph allowing bikes to breeze through. Various cities across the US have also received recognition for various levels of bike-supportiveness.
National programs like Safe Routes to School encourage more children to safely walk and bicycle to school. Burning calories, walking with other children, and avoiding carbon exhaust and saving fuel all make perfect sense to Truett — enough sense to take his personal advocacy all the way to Capitol Hill.
“We went as a group to Capitol Hill by bike, visited the senate offices, and talked to the staff of legislators,” said Truett. “We were seeking the support of a majority in the House of Representatives to join the Bike Caucus.” The bike caucus aims to promote cycling by improving infrastructure and increasing awareness of cyclists. New York Senator Chuck Schumer joined the caucus during Truett’s visit.
Truett and Sepello plan to lend their energies to the cause, learn what other bike shops are doing to get more people riding and advocate for things like bike lanes and pedestrian paths in new developments and in the community.
“One of my goals is to get more involved locally, with the transportation department, and how decisions are made,” said Truett. “I’d like to see some of the same meetings I had in Washington happen at the state level. As a business person, I have a unique opportunity to be heard, so I want to lobby on behalf of our communities.”