The word boot camp is usually associated with pain, sweat and maybe some tears. Our Advocacy Bootcamp may not be quite so intense, but the results are just as great.
On August 27, 2015 we graduated more than 20 graduates from our first ever advocacy bootcamp. Participants met for 6 weeks from July to August and learned about the different facets of bike advocacy. Topics covered included speaking with council members, building neighborhood coalitions, an overview of statewide transportation projects, and more. We followed up with some of the graduates from the program.
Bakari Height is currently pursuing a Masters of City Planning at Georgia Tech and also serves as the Transportation Chair for his Neighborhood Planning Unit. He joined advocacy bootcamp because he saw the need for people in the city of Atlanta to understand the importance of sharing the road with people on bikes. One of the biggest takeaways of his experience in the bootcamp was realizing that there are many people “who do care about cycling improvements in Atlanta, but don’t know where or who to turn to.”
He believes that advocates need to reach out to in order to create a community of change. “We’re all wanting the same thing, so it’s imperative that we share thoughts, ideas and most importantly, contacts.”
Bootcamp graduate Amanda Smith agrees that Atlanta needs to create a community of change. She would like to see a “driving culture change for the better: more attentive, and more courteous.” After being involved in a bike crash, she understands the importance of becoming an advocate for road sharing. In her opinion, the city could benefit greatly from becoming bike-friendly. She believes that in Atlanta “we have so much quality of life, public health, and social justice to gain by making it safer for more people to ride bikes as transportation.”
Bootcamp gave her a new perspective regarding the process by which bike infrastructure projects come to fruition. She encourages new bootcamp participants to familiarize themselves and get more involved with their neighborhood associations and NPU.
Marian Liou joined ABC’s advocacy bootcamp to improve her community on Buford Highway. She’s already organized a bicycle tour on Buford Highway and is working on planning more events to promote bicycling. She found the advocacy bootcamp “empowering” and is thankful for the new friendships made during the bootcamp.
She recommends new participants “start working on bike advocacy projects before you start the bootcamp so you’ll have questions to ask on issues to work through as you go!”
Our next advocacy boot camp will take place next spring. If you’re passionate about bicycling and would like to help create a change within your community, don’t miss out on this great opportunity.