Beyond bikes: Collaborating across sectors for collective good

At a recent Advocacy Action Day, community members in Capitol Hill learned about engagement skills, then hit the streets to talk with businesses about street safety improvements.

Transportation affects everyone, whether you bike, walk, take the train or bus or drive a car. Likewise, transportation is linked to many issues, from housing and affordability, to public health and sustainability. That’s why recently Cascade has formed partnerships with organizations representing a variety of sectors and groups. As community advocates, our voices are stronger when we stand together. 

Strong coalitions

The Community Package Coalition is one such effort. Cascade has linked arms with eight other nonprofits and neighborhood groups — including those representing major affordable housing and public space improvements — to ensure that Seattle residents get a fair deal from the Washington State Convention Center Addition project. 

Our collective effort has been applauded by the Seattle Design Commission as well as elected officials. The Seattle Times recently published an op-ed by several members of our coalition, including our Senior Policy Director Blake Trask. Together, we are raising awareness of and advocating around the largest real estate project in our city’s history. 

On the ground

Our organizing work looks different for other projects. We’ve partnered with Seattle Neighborhood Greenways, and most recently the Capitol Hill Renter Initiative, to advocate for safety improvements along Pike/Pine. While from a bicycle perspective this corridor is intrinsic to the Basic Bike Network, it’s probably best known for its vibrant shops and restaurants that appeal to locals and visitors alike. Pike/Pine is also a major component of the One Center City process. 

Together, Cascade and our partners organized an Advocacy Action Day, training up 16 individuals on business engagement and sending them out to learn about community safety priorities. We reached more than 60 businesses in just a few hours, learning that not only have workers witnessed people on bikes get “doored”; but that there’s concerns about personal safety, employees walking safely at night, and the need for social services outreach.

The city of Seattle has already responded with enthusiasm and encouragement for this effort.

Countywide 

Outside of Seattle proper, Cascade has strengthened partnerships through participation in the Healthy King County Coalition’s Built Environment and Active Living (BEAL) workgroup. Brought together through a shared passion for health equity, members of BEAL include teachers, researchers and advocates representing subjects as varied as obesity to climate change.

This year, BEAL selected engagement around the White Center bicycle playground as its project for the year. In line with public health best practices, BEAL will host “community conversations” in order understand how neighbors want to see the bike playground activated. Listening and ensuring local people are heard will also help ensure that the bike playground is as successful — and useful — as can be. 

Beyond bikes

So, while we first and foremost are dedicated to improving lives through bicycling, our advocacy shop is looking beyond our handlebars to collaborate on other important issues that improve and impact the communities in King County. We can only go so far when we go it alone. 

If you want to join us in collaborating around bicycling, transportation and related issues, sign up to receive our Advocacy Alerts, or get in touch with your ideas for how we can work across sectors and take collective action.