My experience at the National Bike Summit

As I stood near the Capital Bike Share station, blanketed in snow, I realized it would be easiest for me to use bike share to get the National Women's Forum. Six inches of snow may have shut down the federal government and the D.C. bus system, but the conference was forging on. I was struck by the passion and commitment of the bike community to come together in a more united fashion than ever. 

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The third annual Women’s Bike Forum brought together more than 200 women from across the country. The event kicked off with a TED Talk format in which six inspiring female leaders from different sectors and backgrounds shared their stories and set the stage for a day filled with breakout sessions, networking and celebrating female entrepreneurs and their bike-related products. Sessions covered knowledge sharing for innovative advocacy campaigns, best practices in media, marketing and communications, leadership development and so much more.

I was inspired by the endless number of success stories and how groups are using fun, affinity and social connection to mobilize new riders and build a diverse constituency. A group of women from We Bike NYC rode 262 miles from New York city to D.C. in below freezing conditions to attend the forum. This is just one of the many inspiring stories shared in the full-day forum that helped frame the need for innovative messaging and fresh partnerships to attract new audiences to bicycling. Overall, I left the Women’s Bike Forum on Monday inspired, informed and feeling connected to a national network of women leaders who are working to engage and elevate more women in bicycling across the U.S.

The women didn’t get to have all of the fun. The rest of the Washington State advocates arrived in time for the National Bike Summit on Tuesday, and they helped deliver a united message on Capitol Hill in congressional meetings on Wednesday. The Washington advocacy group was an impressive ten people strong (it would have been more if the weather hadn’t cancelled a few flights) and represented Cascade, Washington Bikes, Puget Sound Bike Share, Bike Works and Alta Bike Share. I was inspired by the diversity of constituents our group represented in these congressional meetings. The power was in the people, our stories and our passion for promoting equity, access and safer streets for all users.

We were well-received by all of our elected officials and their staff. We were especially thankful to be able to express our gratitude to Senator Maria Cantwell in person for her support of The Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Act. This legislation requires the U.S. Department of Transportation to set specific performance measures for safety, for both non-motorized and motorized transportation. Separate performance measures for both non-motorized and motorized transportation will help to ensure states focus on reducing bicycle and pedestrian fatalities.

Attending the National Women’s Forum and National Bike Summit left me inspired and committed to do more locally to get a greater diversity of people on bikes. I also feel connected to a national network of bike advocates, and I'm grateful to have such strong women standing up for cyclists in Congress.