What's the social benefits of bicycling got to do with it?


CONTENT WARNING: Bicycle and car crashes


For the longest time, I often dwelled on the “social benefits of bicycling” aspect of Boise Bicycle Project’s mission. I struggled to connect the social benefit to our programming; where it was, why it mattered, how we acted upon it. This isn’t to say I was critical of it, rather I knew there was a connection there, and was curious to find it.

Then, a couple weeks ago I watched this video. (Heads up! There is profanity at the end.)

I watched it again as it was posted in a few bicycle groups I’m in, I talked to my mom about it; the title itself made her gasp. I watched it even more after that. 

While watching the video, I had two realizations: Similarly to Phil Gaimon, I am pretty lucky to have gone this long biking without having a collision that steered me away from riding, and that my fear of flying is statistically inaccurate (Thanks, Phil for that one!).

But in all seriousness, this video was the direct connection I was looking for. 

At the 8th and River intersections, I’ve been followed and yelled at by a driver who didn’t yield to the blinking yellow lights, and almost hit me and the pedestrian I was near (who hit the pedestrian crosswalk).

I was riding back to work on River St. near 13th, remembering our LCI seminar and being trained to take the road along that street. I took the road, I was tailgated and shouted at by a driver to get off the road.

I was going home one night and taking it slow to check out the architecture and street scene along 8th street’s Warehouse District (I’m an urban nerd, I know). I brought my attention to the road as I approached a green light at 8th and Myrtle just in time to feel a pizza delivery driver run their red light close to 50mph. Luckily my leisurely pace kept me out of the intersection in time for them to pass, but left me in a shaky and emotional state for my ride home. This one left me the most emotional, as my advocacy brain couldn’t help but think about the kids leaving Foothills School, the families riding in cargo bikes that cross this intersection daily.

I called the pizza company once I got home to let them know.

You all get the point. I have had numerous near collisions and interactions that have impacted my riding confidence, almost to the point of not wanting to ride, and you all likely have many similar stories of your own. 

So what do all these sucky situations have to do with the social benefit of bicycling? 

Whether it’s a newcomer who experiences more flats in one week than they have in their lifetime or someone who has had a close call or collision, there are people out their that have given up on bicycling. And can you blame them?

This very reason proves why the social benefits of bicycling are so important. We haven’t given up on bicycling, and we are here for those who have. Some may have a reason to give it up, but we want to give them a reason to try it again.

This is why the social benefit of bicycling is in Boise Bicycle Project’s mission: To remind you of the community and support you have in Boise and to provide a space for fun bicycling events that are welcome to every rider!

Why Idaho Interscholastic Cycling League works with teaching youth riders correct bicycling techniques for their future rides in a safe environment with supportive instructors!

Why Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance advocates for improving cycling infrastructure, advocating for policy change to benefit cyclists, and educating the community on cycling topics and issues to get more people riding bicycles!

Why SWIMBA advocates for accessible and maintained mountain biking trails, educates riders on safe mountain biking habits, and hosts events welcome to all riders!

Why Dirt Dolls focuses on removing barriers females face when mountain biking by offering skills workshops, guided rides and social hours to connect with other diva riders!

Why Idaho Walk Bike Alliance advocates for state-wide infrastructure that provides safer connectivity for walkers, bikers and other road users.

Why Land Trust of the Treasure Valley protects public land in our foothills for all ages, riders and hikers; so everyone impacted by the above nonprofits can enjoy the social benefits of bicycling!

I say all this to ask for your help in three different ways:

  • GRASSROOTS POWER: Becoming a Goathead Ambassador helps our benefiting nonprofits continue their amazing work in Boise, the Treasure Valley, and throughout the state of Idaho!

  • POWER IN NUMBERS: When you show up for our Pedal-Powered Parade, you show to our lawmakers, city planners, traffic engineers, that we want a better bicycling future in Boise. 

  • PEOPLE POWER: Come together with your friends, family and the community to celebrate bicycling AND participate in one of the biggest bicycle parades in the nation!

Please join us on August 2nd and 3rd to celebrate, support and show up for, bicycling.