Bridge to Bicycle-Friendly Louisvilleby , VP Advocacy
The “Bridge to Bicycle-Friendly Louisville” Memorial Ride turned out to be a major success. While it was an emotional tribute to fallen cyclist George “Chips” Cronen, its real enduring value is that it launched what everyone hopes will become a new era in bicycle safety in our area.
The event drew the attention and support of Andy Clarke, the Executive Director of the League of American Bicyclists who traveled from Washington, DC, to address the crowd. The LAB is the largest and most influential cycling advocacy and lobbying organization in the United States.
Ninety-five degree temperatures didn’t discourage a crowd that police estimated at between 2,000 and 2,500 riders and supporters of the bike safety movement. The crowd included the first-time-ever gathering of all eleven of the bicycle racing teams from the Louisville area. Racing team organizer Brad Swope called the memorial ride “the most important event in Louisville bicycle history. Every rider on every team recognizes the importance of bike safety and the need to change the current culture in Louisville.”
Most riders took the short Clark Bridge route back to the Great Lawn. The official LBC ride, 25 miles to the CCCC Club outside Utica, Ind., and back, drew over 225 riders. Other than the annual OKHT ride this was the largest club ride by far.
Planning and execution of the event was accomplished in less than 30 days. I was extremely gratified in the financial support the event received from all of the Louisville area independent bicycle retailers. These retailers included Bardstown Road Bicycles, Bicycle Sport, Bike Couriers Bike Shop, Bluegrass Bicycles, Clarksville Schwinn, Cycler’s Café, Dixie Schwinn Cyclery, Goose Creek Cycles, On Your Left Cycles, St. Matthews Cyclery, and Scheller’s Fitness and Cycling. We urge all cyclists to remember their support for Louisville cycling welfare when considering your next cycling-oriented purchase.
Special recognition needs to be given to John Villines, Mohammed Nouri and Nancy Braxton-White of Metro Planning and Design for their support of the event. Mayor Jerry Abramson, the most bicycle-friendly Mayor in America, proved his commitment to cycling. Without his support of the memorial event and the Sharrow experimental program in general, it simply could not have happened.
Most LBC members I have talked with believe that bicycling is enjoying the highest public profile in history. The diverse media attention that the events of the past six weeks generated has enabled us to get vital safety issues into the eyes of the general public. It is our intent to capitalize on this attention. We seek to begin to change the culture that defines the often shaky relationship between drivers and cyclists. We’d like to see changes that foster a better understanding of rights and responsibilities and results in more tolerant and civil behavior between both groups.
If you didn’t hear the speech I gave on August 12th, I urge you to read the text and act accordingly. Safety is a two-way street. As we begin to reach out to the police and other non-choir audiences, it is critically important for the image of the cyclist community be as good as possible. It will mean that we too have to make some changes in our behavior. Please do your part and we will be able to accelerate attitude changes to everyone’s benefit.
Chips Cronen was Ed Tonini's brother-in-law. - Ed.
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web posted: 21 Sep 2007
last updated: 23 Sep 2007