Bicycle Friendly America Spring/Summer 2016 - (Page 13)
2016 NATIONAL BIKE SUMMIT & WOMEN'S FORUM
WHAT THE BICYCLING
MOVEMENTS COULD LEARN FROM
THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT
KEYA CHATERJEE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, US CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK
ometimes when I'm biking to school
with my five-year-old son and a person
gets too close to us with their car, I feel
a surge of rage that only subsides when
my son pipes in and says something like,
"Wow he must have had a really big emergency if he was driving so fast and almost
hit us." After hearing my son's ability to
put himself in someone else's shoes, I usually calm down. I channel my energy into
the organizations I work with to change
things for the better because, as my son
says, "we should have no more tailpipes
blowing in our faces when I grow up."
By day, I am Executive Director of the
US Climate Action Network. Evenings,
I serve on the board of the Washington
Area Bicyclist Association. For the most
part, I've kept my advocacy worlds separate, but recently at the National Bike
Summit & Women's Forum I was challenged to reflect on why maybe they
shouldn't be kept quite so separate. It reminded me of my son's ability to take on
different perspectives, and I tried to take
a moment to look at the climate movement with bicycle lenses and vice versa.
Here's my working hypothesis on our
1. Most climate advocates know someone
who rides a bike as their primary form
of transportation and many climate advocates regularly commute by bicycle,
but don't see bicycling as a relevant
solution to climate change because bicycling doesn't get you huge and immediate reductions in carbon pollution.
2. Most bicycle advocates understand the
climate crisis is an existential threat to
society and that riding a bike is a way to
use less fossil fuels, but they do not talk
about climate change in their advocacy.
They find more saliency with messages
about individual health benefits rather
than leading with the less tangible societal benefits of reduced pollution.
3. Bicycle advocates and climate advocates
feel that they are already marginalized
groups and don't need to associate with
another marginalized group that is
barely relevant to their core work, so the
movements move in parallel.
And maybe we are right. Maybe it makes
no sense to combine forces. In one sense,
climate advocates and bicycling advocates
are already on a roll. Bicycling mode share
is increasing in major cities, with bike share
spreading through large cities like wildfire.
Climate activists have gotten massive pipelines rejected, secured huge international
treaties and are on the cusp of regulating
greenhouse gases from the electricity sector.
The reality, though, is that neither
movement is anywhere near where we
need to be to be to save humanity. And
that is why we should consider learning
more from each other.
Below are some lessons we might
bring from the climate movement to the
bicycling movement and vice versa.
Lessons from climate to bicycling
1. Diversify yourselves and your approaches
The climate movement has been called
out for being overly wonky, non inclusive, and lacking diversity. So what can be
learned from us?
First, learn from our mistakes! Communities of color and low income communities are hit first and worst by climate
change, tell us in polls they care deeply
about the issue and only now are we finalContinued on Page 15
BICYCLE FRIENDLY AMERICA 13
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Bicycle Friendly America Spring/Summer 2016
Core Values, Unique Contributions
A Silver-Level Playbook: Arlington, Virginia
How Cycling Can Help Solve Global Warming
What The Bicycling Movements Could Learn From the Climate Movement
Photos from Bike Lobby Day
Senator Ben Cardin, Legislator of the Year
Getting to Know Kathy Durham
Memphis Hightailers: Bicycle Club of the Year
Bike Lobby Day: A Nevada Perspective
Call for League Board Applications
Reflections on the National Bike Summit
Photo Highlights of Bike Lobby Day in DC
Architect of the Capitol–Bicycle Friendly Business
Summit Demographic Information
2016 Catalyst Award Recipient: Community Cycling Center
Bicycle Friendly America Spring/Summer 2016