2015 Bicycle Symposium Report
By Bruce Cohen - March 19, 2015
Thank you to everyone who came out for the 2015 Bicycle Symposium in Annapolis. More than two hundred advocates from across the state converged on the capital for a fun and productive day of lobbying, lectures, and networking. Proactive bicyclists and professionals were represented from Allegany to Worcester, from Cecil to St. Mary’s!
The structure of this year’s Bicycle Symposium emphasized networking and creating impactful advocates out of each attendee.
- Keynote speaker, Vinnie DeMarco fired everyone up as he listed the steps needed to mount a successful campaign on an issue.
- Paul Cavalieri, Manager at Race Pace Bicycles gave his infamous “How Not to Lobby” speech, a brief humorous talk about how to tailor our message and appearance. He emphasized, the need to remember that our passion for bicycling can turn people off, especially when we bike 20 miles to get to a professional appointment and fail to freshen up.
- Emily Ranson, Bike Maryland’s Advocacy Coordinator, outlined specific laws that we support in the General Assembly. Participants then separated by county and region with a 1-page strategic “leave-behind” to give their delegates direction on what Maryland bicyclists are asking for. For two hours, Symposium participants spread out and met with their representatives to prove that Maryland bicyclists have a strong collective voice. Participants invited their representatives to join us for the afternoon programming and Happy Hour sponsored by Brewer’s Art.
The afternoon session focused on what we can do as bicyclists- as soon as tomorrow- to fix the issues we see on our day-to-day rides.
- Nate Evans, Bike Maryland’s Executive Director covered how to approach all sorts of different bike projects, from a simple painted bike lane or sign on a local street to getting the conversation started about a major trail project. The important work will not get done unless we ask, and the worst that can happen is hearing the governing body say no. The trail and road system in place now is the result of persistance, being told no, and asking again. True bicycling advocates know that “no” can be seen as a prelude to yes.
- Bill Schulteiss, Principal Engineer for Toole Design dove into the design elements that can make the suburbs more bike-able and offered insight to his visionary influences, like the wonderful bicycle infrastructure in Europe. Urban areas get a lot of attention for bicycle infrastructure because they are dense and trips can be very short. However, suburban areas have the potential to be great bike-able areas where the taking a trip on two wheels versus four makes a lot of sense.
For the first time, the Bicycle Symposium included mountain biking panel as part of the agenda. We invited Ryan Delany of MORE, Robert Gaston of the Trail Spinners, Tres Denk of the Eastern Shore IMBA, Austin Steo of the Trail Conservancy, and Jon Posner of Old Line Velo to talk about a myriad of mountain biking topics. Including this representation of trail leaders was intentional as Bike Maryland strives to be the umbrella organization for ALL bicyclists. Moderator, Emily Ranson asked them about community engagement, how beginners can access mountain biking, and trail advocacy efforts. Amazingly, this collection of organizations employs 20,000 hours of volunteer time each year to get their important work done. What a great model for the rest of us!
The Bicycle Symposium wrapped up with a rundown of the top Maryland bike achievements of 2014:
1.) The new bike car on MARC
2.) New Bicycle Policy and Design Guidelines from the State Highway Administration
3.) Hagerstown celebrated as Maryland’s newest Bicycle Friendly Community
4.) Awesome progress in Salisbury which will hopefully lead to our sixth Bicycle Friendly Community
5.) Major pro-bicycle strides in Williamsport
We ended the day with a Happy Hour sponsored by Brewer’s Art and everyone kicked back to talk with fellow bicyclists, advocates, and elected officials and their staff who popped in. A huge thanks to all of the delegates, senators, and staff members who took time out of their busy days to meet with us. A special shout out to Senator Jim Rosapepe, for his continued sponsorship of the Bicycle Symposium which allows us to host the event at the Senate Miller Building where we can easily connect with the legislature.
Our most sincere gratitude to the 15 individual members and 3 household members who signed up at the Bicycle Symposium. We also received an anonymous $500 donation and sold approximately $200 in membership. The funds will be used to sustain our efforts in Annapolis and across the state. Thank you!
We look forward to hosting this event again in 2016! In the meantime, we hope you join us at Larry’s Ride, Tour du Port or a local community meeting near you.