Why the Cycling Movement Matters

Sarah Ripplinger Icon
Sarah Ripplinger portrait by Terry Sunderland

By Sarah Ripplinger

As I contemplate what to type for my first editorial, my thoughts turn to the question of why I am so passionate about working for Momentum. Really, it comes down to values. As a commuter cyclist, I want to see better road infrastructure, safer and healthier communities and cleaner air. Being part of Momentum Magazine is one way for me to realize these goals.

Increasing cycling mode share on urban roads is a mission shared by millions worldwide. Indeed, the commuter cycling movement was forged by men and women who have fought long and hard for better bike infrastructure, a fair share of the road and safer, healthier communities. It’s a movement that began at the grassroots level and is now becoming part of mainstream culture.

From my point of view, cycling is the perfect mode of transportation. For me, it’s a reason to avoid the gym, enjoy the outdoors and save money and the planet at the same time. It’s also a way to meet people and develop lasting friendships.

But there are still challenges ahead. As cities densify, drivers, pedestrians and cyclists are increasingly competing for a scarce resource: road space. This can lead to tragic consequences.

On January 8, Christopher Thompson, a 60-year-old doctor, was sentenced to five years in prison for slamming on the brakes in front of two cyclists on a narrow road in Brentwood, LA. One of the cyclists, Ron Peterson, suffered a broken nose, broken teeth and cuts to his face; the other, Christian Stoehr, a separated shoulder. The judge presiding over the case called it a “wake-up call,” noting that cyclists are particularly vulnerable on roads and adding that local members of government need to be proactive and create more bike lanes.

There is an urgent need for better cycling infrastructure in our cities. Not only painted lines on pavement, but bike lanes that are separate from busy roads, provide enough space for cyclists to pass one another safely, incorporate road crossing signals into the design, include clear signage and accommodate a variety of cycling abilities and needs.

In this issue, we take a look at trailblazers in the US and Canada who have lobbied, educated, rallied and collaborated to lay the foundations of bicycle advocacy and positive change in local communities and on a national and international level. Jeff Mapes, author of Pedaling Revolution, taps the roots of the innovative and courageous individuals who forged the path we are presently pedaling. It is because of their work and the work of so many others, including people like you, that commuter cycling has become an integral part of modern lifestyles.

Keep those spokes spinning,

Sarah Ripplinger

Originally published in the March/ April 2010 issue of Momentum Magazine and on momentummag.com.

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