Advocacy – what is it?

Advocacy is the active support of an idea or cause, especially the act of pleading or arguing for something. In the case of the Bicyclists’ Advocacy program at the North Florida Bicycle Club, advocacy involves actively working to improve conditions and attitudes affecting people who ride bicycles in North Florida.

Assertiveness, on the other hand, is a form of communication in which needs or wishes are stated clearly with respect for oneself and the other person in the interaction. It is distinguished from passive communication, where needs or wishes go unstated, and aggressive communication, where needs or wishes are stated in a hostile or demanding manner.

The goal of the Bicyclists’ Advocacy program at the North Florida Bicycle Club is to improve bicycling safety, access, and respect for club members by advocating for the rights of people who ride bicycles in North Florida.

The program employs various strategies to achieve its goals:

  1. Using assertive communication skills to secure the rights of bicyclists in an effective manner.
  2. Reporting and following up on road hazards to ensure the safety of cyclists.
  3. Representation on the City of Jacksonville Bicycle Advisory Committee to address issues affecting club members.
  4. Collaborating with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office to improve equal enforcement accident reporting and officer training in cycling law.
  5. Working with local Florida Dept. of Transportation engineers to ensure legally required access on state highways and roads.
  6. Securing the cooperation of public officials to support the cause of bicyclists’ rights.
  7. Educating club members and the public on bicyclists’ rights and responsibilities.
  8. Meeting with politicians to advance the cause of bicycling advocacy.
  9. Participating in community efforts to promote safety for people who ride bicycles.
  10. Joining and supporting other cycling organizations, such as the Florida Bicycle Association and the Jacksonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, to bring about meaningful and lasting change.

The Bicyclists’ Advocacy program has achieved notable accomplishments, including:

  1. Establishing positive relationships with the City of Jacksonville, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO), and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
  2. Convincing JSO to address officer bias against bicyclists through an accident reporting system and officer education program.
  3. Persuading the City of Jacksonville to issue a proclamation noting equality for bicycling with other transportation modes.
  4. successfully addressing hazards to cyclists and receiving cooperation from COJ public works and FDOT maintenance.
  5. Supporting the extension of the gasoline tax in Jacksonville with a dedicated portion going to bicycle and pedestrian projects, providing stable funding for cycling infrastructure.
  6. Collaborating with FDOT to improve access and safety for bicyclists, including education programs, warning signs, and infrastructure improvements.
  7. Successfully advocating for signal timing changes to enhance the safety of cyclists at major intersections.
  8. Addressing commercial firms that violated cyclists’ rights-of-way and achieving positive outcomes.

Through these advocacy efforts, the Bicyclists’ Advocacy program has made significant strides in improving conditions and attitudes for people who ride bicycles in North Florida, promoting safety, access, and respect for club members and the broader cycling community.

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