(Portland, OR) The cycling equivalent of Woodstock is coming… but instead of joining rock fans on a muddy farm, one million cyclists and supporters of clean, oil independent transportation will gather for celebrations and purpose filled action in 50 states for upwards of 300 rallies. More remarkable, all of these unified, localized events will roll out on the same day.
Dubbed One Million Bicycles, it’s the brainchild of Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie, a nationally recognized magazine columnist (Men’s Journal, Outside, Bicycling), author of several best-selling bike books, cycling advocate and performer at hundreds of bike clubs, festival and corporate events across the country.
Inspired by U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s call for a “national bike movement” during a speech at Bike Gallery in January, Kurmaskie decided to think big while keeping a small carbon footprint.
“Ideas come to me all the time,” Kurmaskie noted. “But inspired, audacious ones that actually have the potential to impact legislation and healthcare, oil dependency and global warming, all while creating one million new and returning riders, not to mention giving anyone on a bike safer passage and a voice regarding upcoming transportation funding. Those ideas come along once, maybe twice in a lifetime.”
It couldn’t be more timely. With a protracted war in the middle East, gas prices soaring and diabetes at record levels, Kurmaskie sees the bicycle as part of the solution. 2009 will feature a heated congressional battle over how federal transportation funding is spent during the next decade. One Million Bicycles will ask for a doubling of the transportation funding by each state and at the national level. By putting one million cyclists at rallies in every major city, Kurmaskie doesn’t simply want to make lively media but wake people to the idea that bikes reduce congestion, waistlines, carbon output and healthcare costs.
“And because when you ride a bike you just feel good. It’s a quality of life issue. As a country we know in our heads and hearts that we can do better than this,” Kurmaskie noted. “We can make community a priority. By asking the nation’s cyclists to come together on one day, in their own towns, and bring a bike to create one million new riders; that’s proactive, it resonates beyond the moment. It means something.”
Since February, Kurmaskie has been laying the framework for a “national day of action”: August 9, 2009 (which happens to be Bridge Pedal in Portland).
Taping industry movers and a list of over 10,000 bike-related contacts culled over years of traveling by bicycle, performing and speaking, Kurmaskie is in a unique position to pull something like this off.
“We still need a lot of help from the bike community, every group that cares about issues of health and the environment and those who would like to start cycling or cycle more on safer streets,” noted Kurmaskie.
He already has confirmations from hundreds of bike shops and other organizations eager to participate. Even before the official national launch May 1, advocacy groups in scores of cities are stepping up to help organize rallies.
People will register for $5 at onemillionbicycles.org or at their participating local bike shop, bike club, school, church etc. They’ll receive an online registration packet with a number, ride and rally location/details, a bike giveaway card and a pledge sheet.
Why a $5 fee? Here’s the breakdown For every dollar raised, 75 cents goes to the repair and tune-up of used bikes and the purchase of new bikes for the giveaway; 15 cents goes to promotional and ride/rally support; 10 cents goes to administration.
On August 9, 2009, each participating city will hold these rallies (there are also coast-to-coast and long distance group rides being planned to converge at the rally in Washington D.C.). Each rally will include food, booths, a press conference, speakers, music, activities, presentation of support for the National Bike Bill, and the bike giveaway.
“Anyone who doesn’t already have a bike is eligible. We only ask them to commit to using that bike for some level of commuting, errands and riding over the course of one year, and share their experiences and images on our blog,” Kurmaskie said.
More information can be found at: www.onemillionbicycles.org