How to run a first meeting

Note: This is the second in a series of posts* documenting the efforts of a previously unorganized group of Manchester, New Hampshire, bicyclists to advocate for improvements to the city’s bicycle infrastructure. 

stencil

If you’ve never asked a group of bicyclists about the challenges they face riding in a city, be prepared for an onslaught on responses:

  • There’s too much traffic!
  • The cars drive too fast!
  • There aren’t any bike racks!

As a Manchester bicyclist myself, I share many of these frustrations. But heretofore, I’ve only really ever thought them to myself. But last Friday night at a bar called Milly’s, I discovered like-minded souls who also are also annoyed with bicyclists who don’t obey the law, and drivers who think bicyclists should be relegated to sidewalks (something illegal here in Manchester).

As was discussed last week, this past Friday I helped to organize a meeting of local bicycle enthusiasts here in Manchester, New Hampshire, a dozen of whom showed up in response to Facebook post lamenting a lack of bicycle infrastructure here in the city.

Turning a complaint into an initiative

Note: This is the first in a series of posts documenting the efforts of a previously unorganized group of Manchester, New Hampshire, bicyclists to advocate for improvements to the city’s bicycle infrastructure.

It started innocently enough.

On Sept. 7, I posted a picture on my Facebook page of three bicycles (the one in the foreground being mine) parked within 50 feet of each other on a single downtown block here in Manchester, New Hampshire:

facebook bike rack pic

 

The point I made was that it is high time this city of 110,000 make minimal investments in bicycle infrastructure like bike lanes and bike racks. Demand clearly exists. And you can see from the flurry of likes, shares and comments this photo elicited, a number of my fellow Mancunians agreed. It was suggested in the comments that we meet to discuss what we might do to advocate for said bicycle infrastructure improvements.

We Need You to Lead

vacant lot

vacant lot, 空地/ ivva/CC BY-NC-SA

 

When he was starting out, Team Better Block co-founder Andrew Howard was convinced that all he needed was the right plan to improve his community and that would be all that it would take for “the right people to come from somewhere else and make that plan happen,” he said in an interview with the Project for Public Spaces’ Placemaking Blog.

 What I’ve realized through Better Block is that every community already has everybody they need. They just need to activate the talented people who are already there, and shove them into one place at one time, and that place can become better really quickly.

To paraphrase Pogo, we have seen the change agent and he is us.