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North Florida Bicycle Club Advocacy Program

 

Advocacy - what is it?

 

noun: advocacy - active support of an idea or cause etc.; especially the act of pleading or arguing for something. In this case, improving conditions and attitudes affecting people who bike

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Definition: Assertiveness is a form of communication in which needs or wishes are stated clearly with respect for oneself and the other person in the interaction. Assertive communication is distinguished from passive communication (in which needs or wishes go unstated) and aggressive communication (in which needs or wishes are stated in a hostile or demanding manner).

 

The goal of the Bicyclists' Advocacy program at the North Florida Bicycle Club is to improve bicycling safety, access and respect for Club members, by advocating for the rights of  people who ride bicycles in North Florida.

 

All of our *advocacy * efforts begin with the *Bicyclists' Bill of Rights*, officially endorsed by the Board of Directors of the North Florida Bicycle Club. We apply these rights to everyday situations affecting our members as they ride in North Florida. It was due to our efforts that the copyright owners of the Bicyclists' Bill of Rights amended the document to meet Florida requirements and to allow us to use it officially. 


What we do:

  • We make every effort to use *assertive communication* skills to secure these rights in an effective manner.
  • We report and follow up on road hazards.
  • We represent NFBC on the City of Jacksonville Bicycle Advisory Committee
  • We meet with the Cyclists' Representative of the Jacksonville Sheriffs Office to improve issues affecting members, such as equal enforcement accident reporting and officer training in cycling law.
  • We work with local Florida Dept. of Transportation engineers to assure legally required access on State Highways and Roads.
  • We secure the *cooperation" of public officials in our cause.
  •  We educate our members and the public on bicyclists' rights and responsibilities.
  • We meet with politicians to advance our cause.
  • We participate in community efforts to promote safety for people who bike.

We join with and support other cycling organizations, such as the Florida Bicycle Association and the Jacksonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory committee to affect meaningful and lasting change.

What we have accomplished:

We have been able to establish positive relationships with the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).


Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) We convinced JSO to address the problem of officer bias against bicyclists with an accident reporting system and officer education program. JSO has appointed Chief John Lamb as liaison with the bicycling community and Chief Lamb scrutinizes all Duval County bicycle crash reports. Chief Lamb represents the JSO on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.

 

City of Jacksonville  (COJ) We persuaded previous mayor John Peyton to issue a *Proclamation* noting equality for bicycling with other transportation modes. We have successfully had a number of hazards to cyclists such as potholes, debris, glass, etc, corrected promptly and continue to have cooperation from COJ public works and FDOT maintenance. We also provide support for Denise Chaplick Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator for Jacksonville. We represent the NFBC at the City of Jacksonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council, which is functioning as an informal advocacy group.

We and our members successfully lobbied the Jacksonville City Council and kept the Mobility Fees more or less intact in spite of heavy opposition from construction and development interests.These fees are a major source of funding for needed bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

 
We provided vital support for the extension of the gasoline tax in Jacksonville with a dedicated portion of all fees collected going to bicycle and pedestrian projects. This is the first time cyclists have had a stable source of funding here.

 

Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Our relationship with FDOT resulted in an internal education program for the rights of people who bike to access in construction zones; improved warning signs at the intersection of I-95 and Old St. Augustine Rd. where a motorist killed Chastity Rettiger and injured her cycling companion.

 

FDOT has installed sharrows on Park Avenue in front of the Kummer Museum and on the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine.  We have participated in internal safety programs at FDOT and the Jacksonville Transit Authority.

 

We have successfully advocated for signal timing changes on several popular routes so cyclists can safely cross major intersections without getting caught facing a red light.

 

We have successfully addressed numerous commercial firms that have violated cyclists' rights-of-way and placed our riders in jeopardy, and in all cases our efforts have been met with appreciation by the firms involved. No company wants its drivers disobeying the law and placing people who bike in jeopardy. 

 
We have completed a City of Jacksonville Candidate Survey on issues important to our members and people who bike. The results of this survey is available to you and to the public at large.

 

What Can You Do?


Report road hazards and dangerous conditions such as potholes, debris, defective signals, etc., promptly to 630-CITY (630-2489) or  online at http://630city.coj.net/ and follow up to make sure your request is taken care of. Ask your city council person  for help if you don't receive a prompt response. OR, contact your NFBC advocate Bert Shaw at bertram_s@hotmail.com Be specific in what the hazard is and the location. It is the cities' responsibility to come up with the solution. Don't try to tell them how to do their job.

Know Your Rights. Become familiar with the Bicyclists' Bill of Rights.*   

 

Display the “Same Roads, Same Rights, Same Rules” sign on your vehicle. These signs are available from the Membership Director or the NFBC Bicyclists' Advocate.

 

 

Know the Florida Statutes as they apply to bicyclists.   Set a personal example. Follow the law and ride courteously and responsibly. You can set an example that will increase the respect of others for people on bikes and increase everyone's safety.

 

Report motorists that endanger you or other cyclists to the police While they will not issue a citation nor take action from a citizen report ask that the incident be recorded.

 

For commercial vehicles, call the company and report the offender and the offense. Let them know how you feel. Most companies want to know if their drivers are not driving responsibly. If you don't feel comfortable in doing this yourself, contact your NFBC advocate Bert Shaw or your President, Mark Atkins with complete details, time, location, vehicle number and behavior.We have had very positive results from these actions.

 

Let your legislators and politicians know that you care about bicycling and that you vote.

 

Have a positive outlook. Things are getting better and together we will continue to make  progress.

Despite our best efforts the cause for bicyclists' rights and infrastructure is an ongoing process that requires vigilance, persistence and dedication. Your NFBC Board of Directors recognizes the need and supports advocacy as do others in our community. 

 
 

Bert W. Shaw, M.A.  Bicyclists' Advocate, General Director, North Florida Bicycle Club.