I finally made a change in my life to be a bit more official about it. I've been waiting for life to mellow out a bit to give me breathing room to add some advocacy work into the mix. It isn't happening. I tried to help out Bike Arlington with some stuff and the day I was supposed to show up I got stuck on a project and at the first break I got for the afternoon I looked up at my watch and realized it was 9pm… a full 3 hours after I was supposed to help out. It was embarrassing and not at all nice.
It was also a cry for help. I needed to balance my life out a bit. That night I signed up for Bike Ambassador training with Washington Area Bicycle Association (WABA.org). It's a group that tirelessly works to make Washington, DC an AWESOME place to ride a bike. They touch it all. One thing they do is recruit people to be Bike Ambassadors. I looked at the description of what a Bike Ambassador does, and it read like the list of things that I do every single day on my bike. Maybe I could make a difference in a more formal way and still not beak my brain at the same time??? We'll see.
Jump to Day 1… otherwise known as Yesterday. 4am call with a colleague in India about some requirements for a project I've been working on. 5am coffee, cats fed, and kitting up. By 5:30 I'm rolling across the Fairfax County Line into Falls Church on my way to NW DC to hand out Bicycle Maps and support WABA's membership drive.
I got there before Megan, the person I was shadowing this morning, so I got the coffee. We talked, handed out maps and got some people interested in WABA. We were both amazed at how few people stop at stop signs in DC… both cars and cyclists. Time flew and we''d run out of maps, so I hammered south through the city to get to the office.
Ride home was mellow. I was exhausted. Met a guy standing next to his bike with his arms crossed, looking at his bike with disdain. Jammed chain… really badly jammed too. I popped off the quick link, opened the chain and got it back going in under 2 minutes. Dude had been trying for 30 minutes with no avail. He was VERY happy to not be walking home. When asked, what can I do to thank you? I replied, "Go out to WABA.org, read a little, and if you like what you see, join! We have a membership drive going on right now.
3 minutes later, I met a guy standing next to his bike with the wheel off and trying to remove the tire with a stick. That wasn't going to work… ever. Si I stopped, loaned him the tools to change the flat while I prepared the tube and checked to make sure the rest of the bike was oky. Gave him the WABA pitch and sent him on his way.
The Grimy Handshake ;)
In all, I guess I really like fitting a little more formal advocacy into my routine. Not much has changed… now I get a fancy t-shirt.
With luck we got some new WABA members yesterday. It wasn't for lack of effort and enthusiasm.
Rock on, folks!