Hans is joking, but it's all true. (Except for the big ears.)
Over the past few years, Hans has become a dear friend whose warm spirit I appreciate and whose advocacy strategies I constantly learn from. He's a great guy who is a lot of fun to be around. He also keeps it real and carries his iPad in a homemade cozy that his mom sewed for him.
I wanted to share a few of his tips for anyone who'd like to see: more bike lanes in their community; more politicians dedicating time and funding to making cycling safer and more accessible; more volunteers committed to cycling and connecting with each other; and more everyday folk out on their bikes, riding around and having a good time.
Hans has some wise policies:
He always acknowledges accomplishments. When 100,000 trips had been taken on our new segregated bike lane, he sent letters to all the City councillors, congratulating them on this achievement. "Do you know how many negative and demanding emails these people get?" Hans asked. "When you have something nice to say, they notice."
Hans sent Valentines via his blog to all the women--40 Fabulous Femmes -- in Ottawa involved in cycling advocacy. It was a sweet and thoughtful gesture. But it was also a strategic way of introducing people to each other and recognizing that Ottawa's cycling advocacy community is full of women.
He builds capacity in his volunteer team. Hans does this by delegating responsibilities for organizing events among all nine CfSC Board members so that no one is burdened with too much work and newer members find a meaningful role for themselves within the organization.
Hans also believes strongly in identifying cycling champions in as many micro communities as possible -- at schools, in workplaces, in neighbourhoods. Not only are these individuals widely connected to their own communities, when it comes time to advocate collectively for something important, having a wide variety of voices from across the city sends a powerful message. I'm finding this particular idea works really well with cycling education for kids. Having a parent volunteer cycling champion at different schools in our neighbourhood expands the possibilities of what we can do together. This spring we're thinking of a neighbourhood wide Bike to School Challenge. I'll tell you all about it in another post, but it's happening thanks to Hans and his cycling champions idea.
Speak to the media and always keep the message positive is another strategy Hans uses to promote cycling widely.
Whenever he has the opportunity to speak with people who aren't cyclists, Hans jumps at the chance. "By listening to what they are worried about and what their questions are, I can prepare better presentations when I am invited to speak about cycling," says Hans. "It's so important to take discussions about cycling out of community centres and away from just people who are already riding and into new venues."
Last year, Hans was invited to speak at a meeting of the CAA. He had just two pieces of advice for drivers interested in sharing the road more safely with cyclists: look for cyclists before opening your door and before turning right. "I kept my remarks simple so that people would remember my advice," says Hans.
How does Hans keep from getting burnt out when he's so busy? He just laughs at this question. "That's easy. I surround myself with positive people who don't just think up good ideas but roll up their sleeves and implement them," he answers.
Thanks for all the great advice, Hans! See you on the bike path.
Got family biking stories to share? families[AT]momentummagDOTcom