Tucson, AZ (March 9, 2016) – The 16th annual National Bike Summit wraps up today in Washington D.C. The premier bike advocacy event of the year unites the voices of bicyclists from across the nation on Capitol Hill. This year was especially significant for Tucson. At the opening gala on Monday night, Tucson-based non-profit organization, Living Streets Alliance, was awarded the national title of “Advocacy Organization of the Year” by the Alliance for Biking & Walking. Living Streets Alliance out competed similar organizations in Los Angeles and San Francisco for the title.
Since 2009, the Alliance for Biking & Walking – a national bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organization – has held the Advocacy Awards to recognize excellence in the bicycle and pedestrian movement. The Advocacy Organization of the Year award goes to a bicycling and/or walking advocacy organization that has made significant progress in the past year. Leaders of these organizations have worked tirelessly together to grow and strengthen their communities and fulfill their mission. The proof of their efforts is in the growth of their capacity and programs and the victories they have achieved for biking and walking in their state/community. Past recipients of the award include the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, WalkBoston and other national leaders of the biking and walking movement.
Since its inception in 2011, Living Streets Alliance (LSA) has played a critical role in advocating for a bikable, walkable, livable Tucson. Best known for its bi-annual open streets event, Cyclovia Tucson, LSA also coordinates Safe Routes to School Tucson, – a program to encourage more kids to bike and walk to school – hosts bicycle safety and encouragement events like Light the Night and Bike Fest, the region’s annual celebration of “life on two wheels”.
In 2015, LSA successfully advocated for the inclusion of $12 million in pedestrian capital improvement projects in the Pima County Bond election, as part of Proposition 429. To do so, LSA initiated and organized a broad coalition of community partners and allies – representing public health, seniors, youth, persons with disabilities, small businesses, and more – to make the needs of people on foot clearly heard. While the bond failed across the board, the coalition has continued to move forward with plans to make issues around walkability more visible, and to make walking safer and more comfortable in every community in the region.
“We are proud of our community and honored to serve it,” says Emily Yetman, Executive Director of Living Streets Alliance. “It’s always been clear to us that Tucsonans are eager to make our city a great place for biking and walking. This award confirms for us that we are succeeding in helping make it a reality. LSA is proud to be at the forefront of the movement for walkable, bikable, livable cities happening across the country.” Yetman says that this is essential to creating the kinds of communities that people from all backgrounds and age groups desire. “People are looking for cities that have a high quality of life. If Tucson wants to attract and keep its fair share of Millennials, Boomers, and everyone in between, it will need to start prioritizing walkability and bikability now.” Mayor Jonathan Rothschild’s commitment to launching Bike Share in Tucson is a huge step in the right direction, says Yetman. “We hope that this award, in combination with the City’s efforts, will help to put Tucson on the map as a place that values its residents and is a convenient and fun place to visit.”