What It Feels Like To Be New To The Bicycle Space

Listed in order from top left to bottom: Raven W, Council Member Joshua, Andre (youth participant a part of the Council's community), Council; Member Bria

We usually try to spotlight youth ages 24 or younger, but Raven, who is currently employed with the League of American Bicyclists, is a recent 25-year-old and the youngest staff member on the daily team. In addition, Raven is also fairly new to the bicycle advocacy space and, believe it or not, she got a chance to participate in her first lobbying session through the National Bike Summit!

Since this was Raven's first time attending the National Bike Summit (Bike Summit 22) as a staff member, her experience was divided between attending sessions and facilitating others. On top of that, Bike Summit 22 had multiple ways to attend: "It was a love-hate relationship with being able to meet advocates and attend sessions in-person but also balancing attending virtually while taking on the responsibilities of being an admin for the event," Raven expressed. "I left this year's Summit knowing that there were still many conversations for me to listen in on and so many more advocates to meet next year."

Raven was the facilitator for our presentation, where we spoke about how stigma, law enforcement, and infrastructure played into preventing the expansion of urban cycling. She kicked us off and had some great feedback at the end of the presentation: "The topic was really relevant and relatable."

Other presentations that sparked her interest as a first-time attendee and admin were a presentation on how to encourage local businesses to apply to the Bicycle Friendly Business program and conversations around finding new community spaces to encourage people to ride bikes. Right on point, because she was trying to gain confidence for riding a bicycle to the National Bike Summit in D.C. for the first time. Raven described the journey as a scary, but fulfilling experience, noting that Bicycle Friendly Communities and the topics around expanding infrastructure appealed to her as someone with little to no experience riding in an urban environment.

"The presentation was easy to digest and was broken down very well. Also, no one presented a game at the end of their presentation like what I saw the National Youth Bike Council's presentation do!" - referring to our version of 'finding Waldo'. The game was short and sweet and may still be available if you take a look at what participants had to do to win!

Raven mentioned, "I was trying not to lose my 'host face' even though I agreed with a lot of what you all were saying." She goes on to say that statistics aren't just numbers when it comes to law enforcement. Saying that before she joined the League of American Bicyclists she was not aware of the statistics, but she knew enforcement was an issue from her own personal experience, "it's good to hear that the stats are not just stats, they are reality."

"I did not think people could be so angry and resentful towards people on bicycles," this statement is a common theme among the youth community the Council is boosting and was included by Raven in her feedback to us about the presentation. She also mentioned how she was pretty disconnected from the whole movement in general before joining the League, but not on purpose. Raven was more of a walker and learning about all the notions around bicyclists was an enlightening moment at our presentation and throughout the experience of the National Bike Summit, this makes the reason behind her day-to-day work stronger.

Actually, she did not learn to ride a bicycle until the age of 24, which is a fun fact. She also pointed out that if she had not been embarrassed to tell her friends she did not know how to ride a bike, she would have given the bicycle a chance sooner. She believes that riding bicycles together removes a portion of the fear a younger rider may experience riding alone in the city, "just one other person was enough to get me to ride."

As said by her team, Raven's service is a great addition to the team because she has not been exposed to the bicycle space before and brings a fresh and younger perspective. Through facilitated connections and conversations we hope many of the youth in this growing community can get opportunities and be essential to the bicycle space like Raven.

We thank the League for giving us a great experience at the National Bike Summit this year! Happy Bike Month!

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