Making Bicycle Ambassador A Real Job

Matt Seaton argues that "after significant investment in cycling infrastructure, biking needs better PR." Would a bike ambassador make the difference?
August 6, 2011, 5am PDT | Jeff Jamawat
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Still a relatively new concept, only a handful of U.S. cities employ a "cycling diplomat." While bicycle ambassadors do exist in San Francisco, Washington D.C., Chicago, and NYC, they are tied in one way or another to either the local government or bike advocacy groups. Portland's 21 Ambassadors is different in that it is a product from the private sector, namely the 21st Avenue Bicycles.

But what exactly does the job entail? As the title implies, those who partake the role of bike ambassadors are "model cyclists," willing and able to offer assistance to fellow cyclists in need.

Seaton elaborates, "The ambassadors not only encourage cyclists to have a more constructive attitude to shared space, but also defang the criticism with their proactive approach. It's savvy and virtuous at the same time."

In NYC, a team of 12 ambassadors is responsible for "staffing routes and intersections used by commuters, talking to cyclists, raising consciousness; also partnering with local businesses, providing stopping points and refreshments for commuters; and joining police precincts, doing work educating cyclists while the NYPD talks to drivers," he adds.

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Published on Friday, August 5, 2011 in The Guardian
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