Building Communication, Collaboration, and Support

Bicycle advisory boards/committees (BACs)

Having an effective BAC is critical to building public support for bicycle improvements. An effective board ensures that the program will be accountable to citizens. It creates a systematic method for ongoing citizen input into development of important policies, plans, and projects. The group should be created by legislation, ordinance, or resolution, not by a department head or director. This will ensure that it will survive changes in administration and personnel. If possible, it should have only citizens as members. BACs that include professional staff may not be as effective since it will be difficult to avoid conflicts of interest. BACs should be involved in developing relevant policy and planning documents, setting priorities, reviewing annual pedestrian program work plans, and reviewing major public and private projects. Ongoing volunteer involvement and participation is best ensured by having the BAC chairperson assign projects to each individual BAC member. This builds ownership through personal investment as a member follows a project from beginning to end.

Advocacy groups

Advocacy groups can help institutionalize bicycle considerations and sustained funding. They can raise awareness and change attitudes. Their efforts can result in the routine inclusion of bicyclist and pedestrian needs in transportation programs and projects. It does not take a large organization to be effective. For example, if 25 people commit to attend two public hearings, write two letters, meet with two elected officials and serve on one committee over the period of one year, they will be seen and heard by all local decision-makers.

Boards and commissions

State and local governments often rely on boards and commissions to provide policy direction and project review. A state or mid-sized city may have up to 50 relevant boards and commissions. Advocates need to provide input on projects and programs that impact bicycling and walking. Agencies should work to ensure that pedestrian advocates are appointed to applicable board and commissions. Advocacy groups should also work to ensure that members of boards and commissions have an accurate understanding of bicycle and pedestrian issues.

Interdepartmental/interagency cooperation

Cooperation between public agencies and between departments within agencies can help integrate bicycle considerations into decision making processes. For example, the SAFETEA-LU legislation requires entities to cooperate to develop regional funding priorities. It also requires all state departments of transportations to hire Safe Routes to School coordinators. Consequently, walking issues must be institutionalized as part of the regional agenda. It is up to the local agency to do this by establishing cooperative relationships with key people (increasingly this includes health department professionals) and by serving on appropriate committees and work groups.

Recognition for good work

Every year, give recognition to employees who do outstanding work promoting bicycling and walking. It can be an award, plaque, or other pubic recognition. The intent is to give the clear message that promoting bicycling and walking is part of the mission and corporate culture of a transportation agency. People count and when energized, they become instruments of change.