Better Bike Share friends together again!

by: Zoe Kircos, Grant Manager, PeopleForBikes

The North American Bike Share Association Conference (NABSA) is an annual event that welcomes anyone interested in discussing the major issues faced by the bike share and shared micromobility industry. This year, Zoe Kircos attended and she’s sharing her experience with us today. 

The NABSA Conference hit Indianapolis last week. This was the fifth time I’ve attended and I found myself thinking back on those early days. Does anyone out there remember when the NABSA Conference was really more like a gathering where the attendees didn’t even fill up the smallest ballroom at a hotel? When the people of color in the room could be counted on one hand and, as I recall, only one system was run by a woman (Dianna Ward, I’m looking at you)? I thought about this as I surveyed the 300+ people in attendance. It’s still pretty pale and male, but things are changing. Bit by bit, we are changing them. 

I wish I could fully recap every significant event of those 2 and a half days, but I’m getting old and I was too busy hugging people, so I’ll just shout out a few favorite moments:

  • Jay Pitter, during her opening keynote, telling us, “Don’t empower people. People are powerful. Communities are powerful. Our job is to create the space and opportunity for them to access their power.”
  • Jamie Granquist of Lincoln, NE, describing their partnership with a community where BikeLNK placed an art station: “The neighborhood let us in — now we have to show up for them.”
  • Listening to someone from a large operator and someone from a big city that regulates the operator have a spirited — but respectful — conversation about fees and the roles and responsibilities of cities after the guided discussion on that topic.
  • Every woman on the Diversifying the Workforce panel giving voice to what we think and know and hope: Jodi Godfrey with the big picture and the numbers; Simone Justice acknowledging that it can be hard to be in the bike industry, but “at some point this is going to be better and I would love to be a part of that”; Alison Cohen recommending podcasts and owning her power, Carniesha Kwashie reminding us all to keep filling our brag bag — and to not be afraid to use it. 
  • Stephanie Gidigbi, during her Wednesday keynote, getting real: “If you benefit from a structure that benefits you at the expense of another race, and you are not intentionally fighting against that, you are part of the problem, you are part of the structure.”
  • Lisa Nuszkowski introducing me to Détroit Is The New Black. I’ve gotta get one of those t-shirts.
  • Seeing all the Better Bike Share grantees, partners and friends — on panels, in the halls, riding bikes, and at dinner.

Final Thoughts

As we enter the sixth year of the Better Bike Share Partnership, all of us on the team — Waffiyyah Murray, Aaron Ritz, Nicole Payne, Kate Fillin-Yeh, Estevan Fernandez, Brenda Hernandez-Torres and the many others on their teams — are thinking and talking about next steps. Who are the players, what is happening on our streets and how can we continue to center equity and access within that changing environment? I’m deeply grateful for every voice and every perspective that engages in that discussion with us and can’t wait to share our progress at the 2020 NABSA Conference in Guadalajara.

Thanks, all, for being part of the ride. 

(What was YOUR favorite moment? Share in the comments!)

The Better Bike Share Partnership is funded by The JPB Foundation as a collaborative between the City of Philadelphia, the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) and the PeopleForBikes Foundation to build equitable and replicable bike share systems. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or sign up for our weekly newsletter. Story tip? Write farrah@betterbikeshare.org.