Every Thursday night since 2010, bike-friendly people have gathered on Twitter to attend an hour of “#BikeSchool”. Participants follow the hashtag and answer questions asked by a guest “professor.”
No academic credentials required to serve as guest prof, mind you. We make jokes about tacos, talk about bike gear or travel or everyday rides to the grocery store — whatever the prof wants to ask about. When I’m guest prof I generally ask a lot of questions about public policy and throw in links to resources in case you want to do some extra homework.
This week I have the privilege of serving as guest prof with Gabrielle Peters/@mssinenomine and Lisa Corriveau/@SpokesMama. I’ve been interacting with them over time on Twitter, and in June of this year I got to meet them both in person when I spoke at the British Columbia Active Transportation Summit.
This week’s chat is about bicycling and accessibility. We will be discussing how the interests of disabled people overlap and intersect with the interests of those who bicycle — and how for many people these identities are one and the same.
The wording of some of the questions may imply that we’re only discussing people using wheelchairs for accessibility. That isn’t the case. Accessible active transportation is a human right for each and every one of us.
How to Participate
Our approach is modeled on that of a chat format exemplified in this #CripTheVote post. To facilitate full participation we are sharing questions in advance via this blog post so people have time to consider and prepare responses. This provides physical and mental processing time and space.
Each of the co-hosts/guest professors will be tweeting questions every eight minutes for an hour starting at 6 p.m. Pacific time. During that time you’ll be able to read and engage with the questions by navigating to the profile of any of these accounts.
We realize that Twitter chats can be hard to follow for some people. While the chat is taking place, to keep track of the question thread you can click on the @mssinenomine profile and check that account’s feed to find out which questions have been posted. @BarbChamberlain and @SpokesMama will also tweet the questions and engage with the responses that people post, so you can follow their accounts to read more of the discussion.
The chat questions are at the bottom of this post. You’re welcome to respond here in the comments in addition to or instead of on Twitter. If you comment here we may share it on Twitter as well. Include the number with your responses in the same format as for Twitter, please.
If you respond to a question such as Q1, your tweet or blog comment should follow this format: “A1 [your message] #BikeSchool #MoveEquity #WheelsMoveMe”. You can reply directly to the question tweet, do a retweet with comment so people following you can read the question and your response and be drawn in, post a comment on this blog and share the link, or whatever works best for you.
After the discussion takes place, I’ll post a summary of it here.
Remember to use the hashtag when you tweet, so that others can read what you are saying! We are using #BikeSchool because this is a regular session for that chat; #MoveEquity as a tag that is used by some for discussions of transportation equity; and #WheelsMoveMe as a new tag Gabrielle created to reflect the interests of these communities.
You can also search Twitter for any of the hashtags we’re using: #BikeSchool #MoveEquity #WheelsMoveMe. Set the search page to “Latest” to see everything that is being tweeted to the hashtags.
You may want to include other relevant hashtags with your tweet to invite in communities you think will be interested in the questions we ask.
Replies are welcome any time it works for you. We joke about #BikeSchool homework and tests sometimes for fun, not to add stress or pressure.
Capitalize each word in hashtags to make them more accessible. Here’s why by Ability Net.
Questions we’ll ask and resources we’ll share along the way
Q1: Tell us how you learned about this chat. Remember to use our hashtags! #BikeSchool #MoveEquity #WheelsMoveMe
History lesson: Stephan Farffler, Nuremberg-based watchmaker and paraplegic, in 1655 invented his “manumotive carriage”: the first self-propelled wheelchair precursor for the modern-day bicycle. Piece on that and more by @ElizeJackson, founder of Disability List as a resource for disability-led design — a curated list of creative disabled people who are available to consult.
Q2: How do you roll? Tell us about your usual ride and how long you’ve been using it whether bike, trike, wheelchair, walker, scooter (specific type since that term covers a lot), other. Pictures welcome!
Q3: Do you have more than one set of wheels? If so describe; if not, what additional equipment do you wish you had and think would benefit your ability to get around? What barriers do you face to getting additional equipment you need?
Q4: In The Curb-Cut Effect @agb4equity notes that everyone gravitates to curb cuts: ADA accessibility feature that benefits anyone using wheels for any reason. How does this play out for you?
Q4 resource: Design guide for a protected bike lane that works for everyone
Q5: Do you have bikeshare in your community; if so does it include adapted cycles? What do you think would be important to consider when designing an inclusive, accessible bikesharing program?
Resources to go with Q5: Adaptive bikeshare pilots in San Francisco, Portland, Detroit, Lackawanna, Milwaukee, other places. Reviews of adaptive bikeshare pilots in Portland, Oakland.
Q6: What’s one thing you wish the non-disabled biking community would stop saying or doing and what is one you wish they would say/do?
Q7: If you have a disability do people assume you don’t/can’t bike? How do you handle these assumptions? Breaking Down Barriers to Disabled Cyclists by Joelle Galatan/@JoelleHGRides.
Q7 more: If you’re someone who bikes do people assume you don’t/can’t have a disability? How do you handle these assumptions? Breaking Down Barriers to Disabled Cyclists by Joelle Galatan/ @JoelleHGRides.
Q8: Comfortable travel isn’t just about design; it’s also maintenance as @RobinMazumder noted in Sidewalk Clearance is a Human Rights Issue. How does maintenance affect your ability to move?
Bonus questions if you want to keep going:
Q9: What are your favorite spots to wheel and what makes them your favorite? What are some places you’d like to be able to wheel? What is the reason you can’t?
Q10: How do your wheels fit into your transportation? Do you roll in more than one way? In Washington state, for example, 85% of transit trips taken in 2017 had a walk/bike/roll trip for the beginning or end of home/work.
Q11: What resources would be useful in working beyond the bicycle for a welcoming collaboration for accessible active transportation? Example of an effort in UK, the Beyond the Bicycle Coalition.
Q12: Let’s get ahead of the usual political timeline. Any issues or candidates have you especially excited or concerned for progress in accessible active transportation?