Last Thursday night BikeSD formally launched as a bike advocacy group. To learn more about us, visit our about page to read about our Mission, Vision, Values and Guiding Principles in English and Español, and about our volunteer staff and incredibly brilliant and supportive board. We celebrated at a much beloved bike friendly business, Blind Lady Ale House. The launch party was our first formal introduction to the San Diego community and from the turnout, enthusiasm and energy – we’ll go out on a limb and say that our party was an incredible success and we’re thrilled at the reception we’ve received.

First, a word about our board. You’ll notice that our board is 50/50 men and women – this is very deliberate. Women are considered an “indicator species” when evaluating whether a city is bicycle friendly:

[S]tudies across disciplines as disparate as criminology and child ­rearing have shown that women are more averse to risk than men. In the cycling arena, that risk aversion translates into increased demand for safe bike infrastructure as a prerequisite for riding. Women also do most of the child care and household shopping, which means these bike routes need to be organized around practical urban destinations to make a difference.

However, in a recent study by Cathy DeLuca on how many women were involved at the decision making table that affected bicycle riders in California, she found that there was a strong correlation between women’s representation on advisory committees and bicycle mode share:

Women are underrepresented on bicycle (and pedestrian) advisory committees in California. While they represent one-half of the state’s general population, they only make up 19% of the members on bicycle advisory committees in the state and 27% of the members on bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees.

While we’re not affiliated with any governmental agency, we will be advocating on behalf of San Diegans and we decided to launch with a bold vision and a pioneering statement on what bicycle advocacy really means: men and women equally making decisions and advocating on behalf of San Diegans that believe in our ability to implement our vision. To that end, our board brings together a diversity of ideas from individuals ready, committed and willing to serve.

Our launch party last Thursday immediately revealed a glaring deficiency of insufficient bicycle parking in front of Blind Lady Ale House when our entire board and many of our guests rode to the party.

Blind Lady Ale House needs multiple bike corrals in front of their business. BikeSD’s entire board showed up on bikes as did many of our guests and new members.

We’re certainly going to be working to get as many bicycle corrals installed in front of Blind Lady to ensure that this business can continue to accommodate their customers’ parking needs in as efficient and responsible of a manner as possible.

At our launch we had many new faces show up and we packed the house at Blind Lady. We had Assembly member Nathan Fletcher, Omar Passons, BH Kim, City Bike Coordinator Tom Landre, planners from KTU&A, Alta Planning, Aveterra, beer aficionados, owners or representatives from Thomas Bike Shop, Adams Avenue Bike Shop, Mission Hills Bike Shop, Electra Bikes, and professionals from every conceivable industry attend and then sign up to become a BikeSD member. Our goal was to showcase our vision and talk about how we intended to implement that vision and our message clearly resonated with a broad spectrum of San Diegans considering we signed up nearly 80 members at Blind Lady.

We started the evening’s festivities by ensuring that our guests were well satiated and Blind Lady’s staff did an excellent job in that regard.

While our guests settled in for the evening, our board listened to our guests about how they wanted to see change happen in San Diego. Photo: David Rodger

We then talked about what we envisioned for San Diego. Howard Blackson from Placemakers graciously donated his expert design and planning talent to designing our vision map. For our first year, our primary focus will be on the urban core due to limited resources. But our goal is to expand our focus to the entire city so that we have a map of what a truly world-class bicycle friendly city looks like.

Our goal at our launch party was to showcase what we were envisioning for our city and how we wanted to strengthen that vision with your help.

We brought in a filmmaker based out of Long Beach, Michael Wolfgang Bauch, to show a movie he made while he and his family lived in Amsterdam. The movie, Riding Bikes with the Dutch, was our way to visually depict the change that is possible. While Amsterdam is currently known as one of the top cities for bicycling, we believe that we have the potential to exceed Amsterdam’s current state. But we need to have goals, and Amsterdam’s current mode share is a worthy goal to reach until we surpass them.

While visuals and visions are all well and good, what needs to happen is having some actionable steps that will get us closer and closer to realizing and living our vision. Some of the key individuals who can help guide the transformation are our elected representatives. We invited Councilmember David Alvarez  to be our guest of honor and talk about how citizens can influence our elected officials to effect change. We chose Alvarez for one primary reason: he is a regular bike commuter and finds the bicycle to be a very convenient tool to use as a way to get to and from his meetings as a Councilmember. He thus had the experience and ability to empathize with the plight of the San Diegan bicycle rider who has to navigate a city that is extremely auto-centric.

Councilmember David Alvarez holds our audience’s attention while discussion how citizens can become more involved. Photo: Jinna from Thomas Bike Shop

The Councilmember gave a talk that was both engaging and informative and very well received. He gave specific steps on how we, as a newly formed organization, can advocate for change. He talked about how the bicycling voice had been missing from the discussion to date and echoed a sentiment that we overheard earlier that evening:

I’m so glad BikeSD has launched. This organization was a long time coming and is very much needed in San Diego.

At least one guest admitted to having the chills when she heard that statement.

If you missed our launch, here are a few photos that some of our guests took to commemorate the event.

Thank you to those of you who came to our launch. We look forward to transforming San Diego with your help.