Last week, we featured the Granite State Wheelmen Bicyclying Group: a long-standing organization of recreational cyclists. In 2006, the group found a new inspiration for advocating utilizing the great outdoors and educating the community on the benefits of cycling and walking.
Enter the Bike-Walk Alliance of New Hampshire. Founder Dave Topham once again took some time to discuss the group and its benefits to the community.
Around Concord: Tell us a little about the Bike-Walk Alliance ofbrNH, what is the main draw that people reference?
Dave Topham: BWA-NH is the statewide bike-ped advocacy, safety, andbreducation organization. It was startedbras the GSW is strictly a recreational bike club but was being asked to do morebrand more in support of state programs. Abrlot of knowledge and expertise had been accumulated since 1971 but a differentbrorganization was needed. The tax structurebrof a 501c3 versus 501c7 for a social club makes a big difference. GSW members (and everyone else) use thebrroads, rail trails, and benefit by meaningful legislation and infrastructurebrwhile BWA-NH pushes for the funding and implementation of good ideas andbrprojects to benefit bicyclists and pedestrians whether they know it orbrnot. More and more people are seeing thebrneed for sensible bike-ped accommodations via “Complete Streets.” Better health, less pollution, lessbrcongestion, and safer roadways for all users are part of the BWA-NH focus.brbr
Note that all BWA-NH sponsors are automatically GSW membersbras even bike-ped advocates like to save money in bike shops and socialize onbrrides and over pizza.
AC: Is the group active year round? How does thebrexperience change throughout the seasons?
Topham: BWA-NH is very active yearbrround but not by running events. Bike-edbrclasses, legislation, working with NH-DOT advisory committees, and coordinatingbrrail trail development are non-stop efforts.
AC: What’s something people usuallybrassume about the group? What do people usually assume that’s incorrect?
Topham: Many people have yet tobrlearn about BWA-NH and what we are trying to accomplish. Some of those who hear of BWA-NH think we arebrtrying to create special and costly facilities just for bicyclists andbrpedestrians. That is not the case. Our emphasis is to have NH-DOT and localbrplanners / developers keep in mind that our roads are for all users, not justbrmotor vehicles. When roadways arebrdesigned with all expected users in mind, the incidents of car / car crashes isbrreduced by about 25% with little or no extra money being spent to develop thebrinfrastructure which will more safely accommodate all users.
AC: What is your personal favoritebraspect of the group?
Topham: Seeing our infrastructurebrdesigned and built in the most cost-effective way to serve the most people morebrof the time. Second, to have betterbreducation for motorists and bicyclists so as rules of the road are followed bybreveryone.br
AC: What’s the funniest, strangest, most unusualbrthing people have asked you?
Topham: “Whybrshould bicyclists go with the flow of traffic. Isn’t seeing a car coming toward you safer?”; “I don’t need lights on my bike atbrnight. I can see fine in the dark.”; “Bicyclesbrshould only be used on sidewalks. Thebrroads are strictly for cars.”
AC: Are there any recent or upcoming changes thatbrpeople should know about – resources, funding, legislation, development, etc.?
Topham: BWA-NHbrwill try again for the Vulnerable User legislation and start the effort tobrimplement a Complete Streets policy statewide. More easily available andbraffordable bicycling education programs for children and adults are planned forbr2015.
Bike-pedbrfunding opportunities were highlighted in a March conference organized bybrBWA-NH and held at the DHHS auditorium in Concord. Limited funding on a highly competitive basisbris available under the Transportation Alternatives Program, Recreational TrailsbrProgram, and the Community Development Finance Authority. Grants may be available at times from variousbrcompanies and the medical sector.
brbrBWA-NH cannot be everywhere and doing everythingbrneeded statewide, but we help regional bike-ed advocacy groups get started bybrthem being affiliated with BWA-NH for tax purposes. We currently have five affiliates under ourbr501c3 agreement with more advocacy and outreach groups expected. Two rail trail groups fall under thisbraffiliation as BWA-NH sees many advantages to promoting rail trail developmentbraround the state.
AC: Anything else we should know about you, thebrgroup, how people can get involved, etc.?
Topham: The BWA-NH office isbrlocated at Concord Crossing, just west of Route 93 Exit 17, at 2 Whitney Road,brSuite 11, Concord NH 03301, phone 603-410-5848. Tim Blagden is the Executive Director. Anyone wishing to learn more about BWA-NH or become involved may visitbrour web site BWANH.org or email email@example.com
This week we spotlight the long-standing recreational riding group. Read More »