Magic Wands and Scraped Bikes: The Jenn Dice Interview
Jenn Dice is the newest addition to the passionate group of people behind PeopleForBikes.org. As Vice President of Government Relations, Jenn is responsible for directing lobbying efforts in D.C., organizing grassroots political efforts, and running the new Leslie Bohm Strategy Center. She brings with her a palpable enthusiasm for bikes and more than 10 years experience in cycling advocacy with the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). We were able to catch up with her a few days before her big trip to bike down Africa’s Mt. Kilimanjaro:
What do you remember most about your first bike?
I grew up in South Dakota, and like every girl who’d read Black Beauty, I really wanted a horse. So when I got a bike, I put ropes on the handlebar and would steer it around town by its “reins.” I even made a mane and tail out of streamers. So my first bike was a horse-bike—a light blue Huffy horse-bike. It was so awesome.
If you had a magic bike advocacy wand, what would you change first?
I would integrate everything. Right now, cycling has all these somewhat disjointed pieces: retailers, suppliers, bike-industry members, race promoters, bike clubs, cycling transportation groups, and bike advocacy groups of all stripes. With my magic bike advocacy wand, everything—from technology to communication to collaboration efforts—would be seamlessly integrated. Cycling advocacy is its most powerful when we work together as a single organized effort and harness our individual strengths. That’s when we will be a force.
What fuels your passion for bicycle advocacy?
I’ve never really thought about that before—it’s always something that’s gone hand in hand with loving bikes. Living in Boulder, you see the quality of life bicycling brings every day. People are biking to dinner, using the infrastructure to commute to work, and riding trails on the weekend. I know how happy bikes make me, I see how happy they make other people, and I want to help people make that connection.
What do you see as the greatest challenge to getting more people on bikes more often?
People are very concerned about safety. There’s a figure floating around that says 60% of people are interested in riding their bikes more, but are stymied by fears about getting around town safely. To get more people on bikes, it’s incredibly important that we create infrastructure that addresses these safety concerns.
What do you hope to achieve in your new role as at PeopleForBikes.org?
I want to organize and build our grassroots political clout. No matter how many lobbyists we hire in D.C. or how talented they are, we will be just another very small, special interest group unless we have a key constituency back home that engages, votes and shows a bit of political muscle from time to time. Our hope is that if we organize the face of bicycle business (retailers, suppliers, tourism industry, charity rides and businesses that benefit from all things bicycling) we will more powerful than we ever realized. I hope we are correct. Otherwise there are no benefits for the good things decision makers do or consequences for when things go badly.
How will the new Leslie Bohm Strategy Center help achieve the mission of PeopleForBikes.org?
The whole inspiration behind the Leslie Bohm Strategy Center is, of course, Leslie. He was an amazing person and a great friend. He constantly challenged Bikes Belong, its Board, and the bike industry to be more strategic, more political, and to act like a campaign. The Leslie Bohm Strategy Center is what people are calling our ‘War Room’ aimed at gathering information on where our people are, how we organize them, and how we get them to engage. We want it to be a tool to help us, as Leslie would say, “work smarter.”
Now for the most important question: How many times have you fallen victim to the Bike Scraper? Insider’s Note: To cross the small parking lot shared by PeopleForBikes.org and IMBA, cars must drive under an inexplicably-placed cement wall that begins at roof-rack height. It didn’t take long for it to be dubbed the ‘Bike Scraper.’
Ahhh! Twice! Now I have a panic attack every time I drive under it. Yesterday, I had furniture in the back of the car so the hatch was up and I ended up slamming on the brakes seconds before running into it. Every so often when I’m sitting in my office, I’ll hear the telltale crunch of someone’s day being ruined. I guess it’s become a rite of passage.
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