In this episode of the Shift Up podcast, host and Bike Shop Girl founder, Arleigh Greenwald sits down with Piep Van Hueven from Bicycle Colorado for an informative discussion about Colorado bike advocacy and the new changes that are taking place to make Colorado a more bike-friendly state. As the Denver Director at Bicycle Colorado, Piep is immersed in the advocacy initiatives that are taking place in Denver and is on the front lines of what’s happening to bring about real changes in the cycling industry there. On the brink of opening a new bicycle shop in suburbs of Denver, Colorado herself, Arleigh thinks it’s important to capture everything surrounding the current bike advocacy initiatives taking place in Colorado and show how the industry is adapting.
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Piep kicks off the discussion with a brief discussion of her work at Bicycle Colorado. As a Denver-based nonprofit, they have been working for more than 25 years, to use advocacy, education, and passion to make Colorado a more bicycle-friendly state. This puts Piep right in the middle of the current initiatives taking place to bring about bicycling changes in the state.
With so much of Piep's work being based around the idea of advocacy, Piep and Arleigh briefly review what that idea really is. As they explain, the work of advocacy is education about facts, is sometimes about applying political pressure but is always about relationships...with the end goal of bringing about changes for the better. For advocacy to be effective it has to be focused on getting to know the people in the places where you want changes to take place, learning their perspective and discovering what’s important to them. Unfortunately, this is not always easy. To explain the challenges advocacy efforts face, Piep shares a quote from Gandhi, which says, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”.
Denver Bicycle Advocacy
Denver has a lot of exciting things going on right now, including the upcoming Velorama Mayor’s Ride on August 18th which features Mayor Michael Hancock, which is a celebratory community bike ride geared towards families and kids. There will also be a surprise panel discussion on women’s bike racing and competitive themes called Pedals, Podiums, Power & Passion, which will offer a behind the scenes look into the women's cycling experience and will include an all-star panel including Mara Abbott, Shannon Galpin, Janet Holcomb and others. The purpose of the whole event is to help get non-cyclists out to experience a ride in an easy way.
There is also a lot of traction being gained with the dockless scooter and bike initiatives around the state and efforts in reclaiming street space for environmentally friendly transportation. This is especially critical since Denver has the highest rate of single-occupancy vehicles in US and advocates there are looking to provide inhabitants of the city other ways to get around which would allow those people who actually need vehicles to use them.
Even with the great things happening there is still a lot of hard work that needs to be done. Among others, this is where the work being done by the Denver Streets Partnership, which steps into the conversation as a coalition of nonprofits that care about cycling to speak with a unified voice about better active transportation to create people-friendly streets. How is this done? By putting people first and helping people to see it’s not cycling versus the world, but rather cycling is one small piece of the pie to help a more cohesive better place in the community. While there is still much to be done to bring about the changes desired, little by little the tide is changing to bring the change to the industry cycling is looking for in the endeavor to get more people on bikes.
Links Mentioned in the Podcast
• Contact Piep directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Learn more about Bicycle Colorado
• Bicycle Colorado's current advocacy updates: https://www.bicyclecolorado.org/bike-news/
• Velorama Mayor’s Ride that is THIS weekend!
• Colorado Bike Summit in Steamboat, CO