The cycling community should draw upon the experience of Bike Grid Now, which was formed to give cyclists a means to address the lack of urgency in creating safe and connected streets for cycling. We have lots of people who care enough to do something; we have creativity and skills to implement our ideas, we have connections, and we might even have money. Whereas BGN's bike jams and bike buses are direct actions designed to fill the vacuum for pressure on public officials, a broad-based approach would leverage the social capital of the bike community to rapidly develop and implement policy and technology solutions that require more than public will.
Examples of problems/solutions: an app for low stress bike navigation, bike parking structures for neighborhoods and downtown, cargo bike/trailer rental, subscription-based service for quality kids’ bikes, bike-oriented housing, and cargo-bike delivery service that can replace the type of trips most often done by car.
Why isn’t this happening already? Because most organizations and start-ups don’t have the social capital and the urgency that the bike community has that’s needed to accelerate the development and adoption of solutions. And the bike community hasn’t done this yet because we haven’t gotten ourselves organized.
What would it look like if we wanted to bring all our resources to bear to solve the problems of car dependency? It might look like Current Water, which is like a policy and tech incubator for clean water. Made up of universities, companies, non-profits, and the public sector, Current Water has relationships and access to capital that can facilitate the idea and research sharing, partnerships, rapid prototyping, and testing that are needed to develop and scale solutions.
Because social capital/community is the most important factor for the success of such a venture, it should be embedded in the organizational structures within the ecosystem. If a company needs to form, the community should be able to have a stake in it- as much as would be possible without creating unwieldy decision-making. Because urgency is the other important ingredient that has been missing, we need to not get trapped playing the waiting game for institutional gatekeepers that have their own processes to follow. We should be asking what can WE do RIGHT NOW to test an idea? What is the next step WE can take with the RESOURCES WE have at hand RIGHT NOW.
Got urgency, ideas, organizing skills, technical skills, connections, money? Get in touch.