Getting involved without getting too involved
Most people do not have the time and energy to get involved in cycling advocacy. There is also the comfort in the back of your mind, somewhere out there, someone else probably got the issue covered, whether it is an obstacle in a bikepath, or a campaign to get multi million dollar infrastructure installed. Based on what I have seen, in the end, it is a only a handful people that get involved. Ok, maybe a bit more, but when public feedback is required by councils or state orgs, it is not thousands of people that reply. It is a fairly small amount of people that decide our destiny.
It is very easy to be one them. You don’t have to commit yourself or get more involved than you want to. One way is to write politicians - local representatives, councils, ministers, premiers, etc. Their offices process each letter so it does put your voice out there. This might sound a bit intimidating, but don’t worry - a minister is not going to come knocking at your door. If you are up for more, join a BUG or put up your hand to help out at one of the state advocacy groups. However, if for whatever reason none of these are an immediate option, or you want to start with something ‘light’ first, try Advocacy in an App.
You can choose from the following categories: Danger Zone, Vehicle in bike path, Path needed, Maintenance required, Bike facilities needed, Bad visibility, Bike wonderland and Other.Bike Blackspot is a cycling specific smartphone application which aims to build support for funding in order to improve and expand the cycling network. The app sends your report to your state and the federal transport minister and Green’s transport representative.
Your information will be used to build a picture of cycling issues and needs. For example, if there is a busy road and there is evidence that many riders need more than a painted bikelane to get around, you information collected with this app can build a case for segregated infrastructure. The intend is also to use the information to build a case to get the federal government involved in developing cycling infrastructure, on top of the work being done by State Governments and councils.
The App is not new, but a relaunched after running a few years in WA, where it successfully highlighted shortcomings in Perth. With enough support, the valuable information gathered can become vital leverage in campaigns for infrastructure improvements.
At the end of your first incident there is a quick and simple registration process, but otherwise logging an issue takes about a minute.
The aim of this application is to log issues that should be resolved by your local council. It works similar to Bike Blackspot, but it is not cycling specific and there isn’t even a specific category for cycling. Suitable categories might be General Request, Litter, Parking, Pavement, Road and Street Cleaning. The last step of the process opens your smartphone’s primary email application, with a generated email containing the details, and is addressed to the suitable council.
These two Apps are both helpful, but it is important to know when to use which one. If there is an immediate maintenance issue to be resolved, use SnapSendSolve, a similar App, or contact your local council directly.
Reports from Cycle.org.au members’ forum is that SnapSentSolve mostly works really well to resolve maintenance issues and depending on council, issues get resolved quickly.
If contacting the council is unsuccessful, log the issue using Bike Blackspot. For issues that are not maintenance related or unlikely to be resolved quickly by a council, use Bike Blackspot. For example issues that are likely to require significant amount of funding, e.g. requirements for new bikepaths.
We really would like to see people using these applications and we see this as a great opportunity. It is a very easy way to get involved and become part of the voice of advocacy.