I’m a founder of Bikeology, aka “the festival by cyclists for cyclists.” I am an environmentalist with a specialty in independent media and communications. I’m not a dedicated cyclist. How did this happen?
It was spring 2001, and I was on the phone with one of Edmonton’s environmental experts. He shared a shocking revelation hot-off-the-presses from an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. Rising greenhouse gas emissions (GHGEs) could, through a system of natural feedbacks, spiral out of control and create a new Earth hostile to human life. Hundreds of scientists were advising comprehensive reductions in GHGEs by 2015 to forestall further, more serious changes.
A certain naïve humanism empowers this work. “All we have to do,” I explained to my colleague, “is help more people hear the scientists’ message and work harder to show how appealing the low-carbon solutions are. We should send out a press release!” He bet me I would never get this story in the news. I bet him I would, and I knew just how to make it happen.
NACCC and Future Fair – We Have the Technology!
I had just been introduced to a leader in Edmonton’s bike messenger community and invited to participate in their event, the 2001 North American Cycle Courier Championships (NACCC). The messengers wanted to recognize that bikes are not only convenient, fast and fun but deeply green as well.
For one weekend two Edmonton counter-cultures – utilitarian cycling and urban environmentalism – merged into something new (and slightly awkward) that didn’t have a name yet. Turned out my colleague was partly right. When I got my big chance to talk atmospheric science with a news reporter I was summarily informed, “I can’t report that.” But the bikes, races and eco-fair got pretty decent press.
The next year, in 2002, a reshuffled deck of partners hosted a one-day celebration of bikes and ecology in downtown Edmonton. From there we grew it into a month of bike-related events, and the rest is history.
Bicycles plus Ecology = Bikeology
The original goal of Bikeology Festival was to bring cyclists of all stripes plus environmentalists together to promote the technology we loved in common – the bicycle – in an effort to have a greater, collective impact, in the hopes of influencing transportation planning in Edmonton. In 2009 Edmonton’s updated “Bicycle Transportation Plan” plan provided welcome validation of this goal.
“Go into the garage. Bypass the car, dust off the bike, and cycle on down to a bike event. Re-learn to ride in a supportive and fun environment. Feel the velo-love.”
- Barb Allard, c. any June
I’m always saying stuff like that. What am I talking about?
It’s 2013 and mainstream interest in green and local living has grown. Bikeology organizers have felt stretched between this opportunity to attract more non-cyclists and our original mandate to bring together Edmonton’s dedicated but diverse, expert cycling groups. I believe this bikeological tension could be put to excellent use, and I’ll explain this next week.
Personally, however, this work takes its toll. I’m now focused on making my life more healthy and sustainable. For the first time I’m participating not as an organizer, exploiting the bicycle as a tool for change, but as a would-be cyclist experiencing what the heck I’ve been promoting all these years, and I’ll share these Bike Month adventures in this blog-space too.