Santa Monica Spoke and Bicycle Advocacy

Bike Advocacy – what the heck does that even mean? And what do bicycle advocacy organizations actually do?

I’ve been active in this work for years in Austin, TX and here in Santa Monica we’ve been hanging out with the folks from Santa Monica Spoke.

Santa Monica Spoke is a volunteer run organization that is an affiliate of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. Just to give you a sampling of what this advocacy group does, here are some of the activities we’ve volunteered for this winter:


Kidical Mass

In the tradition of Critical Mass, Kidical Mass takes over the streets – only it’s with kids.

Kids with training wheels, kids in trailers, kids in costume, kids, kids and more kids!

The origins of Critical Mass were to make a political statement demanding that people driving cars recognize the presence of people riding bikes and their right to this shared public space.

Less of a political statement, Kidical Mass is more of a street party. A celebration addressing the sad fact that the health of our children is suffering from a lack of physical activity BUT showing how our kids can greatly benefit from the joys and freedom of bicycling. Something that most of us reveled in when we were kids.

A Valentine’s Day theme brought out the bike love!


Operation Firefly

We’ve all seen the ninja bike riders – out after dark without lights.

Since bikes aren’t normally sold with lights, a lot of bike riders don’t know what’s legally required to say nothing about how much safer it is to ride with lights.

Operation Firefly hands out lights and safety pamphlets to riders caught without lights. Laws differ by state specifying a rear light or rear reflector but all require headlights. A brief survey tested riders’ knowledge of the laws and inquired why they were riding without lights. This info ultimately is used to create better safety programs.

We spent two evenings at different high traffic locations in Santa Monica pulling people over and lighting them up!


League Cycling Instructor Training Seminar

The League of American Bicyclists has a certification program for cycling instructors that requires students to pass a weekend training seminar. The curriculum is a mix of safety info, mechanical knowledge and bike handling skills. The weekend focuses on teaching methods with the students practicing and demonstrating in the classroom and on the road.

I’ve been an LCI for a number of years now but I was really excited to volunteer to help out at this particular seminar since it was led by Chris Quint. In a weird way, this was a fan girl weekend. One of my favorite teaching videos features Chris in what I call “Mr. Rodgers on a Bike” He’s super calm and encouraging yet gets across a wealth of valuable information.

Here’s part one of the video – take a peek and I know you’ll learn a lot, even if you don’t ride bikes.


Parts 2 and 3 are well worth watching too. (The full video is required viewing for all my students before they come to my cycling classes.)


If you’ve made it this far in the post, I’m hoping you have some kind of interest in bicycling. Advocacy can take many forms from sending a check to support an organization like Santa Monica Spoke, to volunteering at an event, attending a public meeting, or just asking a friend to come on a ride. It’s an easy way to share the joy of cycling!

So, what’s happening in your bicycling city?