11 Dec 2019 Aspiring to inspire change through the power of bicycles and Just Ride
by Diana Giraldo, President and CEO, Streets Alive of SWFL
Note: This is part of a series of columns written by members of the Second Muse cohort working in partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation in Collaboratory. SecondMuse is a company that helps support and nurture “homegrown” entrepreneurs. These are people from our community that are working hard to establish or grow businesses here in our neighborhoods. They have identified needs in our marketplace and are standing up companies to meet them, while strengthening our community. SecondMuse and the Foundation believe that people are the core of our economy and that is an important step in Southwest Florida philanthropy, to help people establish businesses here, to create jobs here and keep the talent and enterprise here.
Imagine riding your bicycle or going for a walk.
Now imagine riding your bicycle or going for a walk for the last time.
Harsh? Well, that is really what happens, between 2018 and 2019 to date, 639 pedestrians or cyclists were injured or died, that is one person per day. I hope you agree that this is unacceptable. Some of us have a story to tell, while others either suffer in quiet or worse, are killed. I am one of the lucky ones that can tell the story.
I am a bicycle crash survivor. My life was changed forever when I was hit while riding my bicycle. I live with chronic pain and a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury). However, I also live with a lot of passion, and I am more intentional than ever. That is one of the few reasons why I won’t give up fighting for bicycle safety.
Each of us must realize this bicycle and pedestrian safety problem is not someone else’s business. Unless we are personally impacted by it, we are fast to forget. In order to function in a sustainable manner, we must be part of the bigger picture, targeting the sources of the problem and collectively find solutions. There are so many things that we can do together to make our streets safer.
How can we work together as a community to find the solution to safer roadways? We are constantly exploring ways. By being part of the solution personally inspires me and I believe it is as simple as “being part of the change,” not thinking about it, wishing for it, or talking about doing but rather doing something.
In 2012, a group of visionaries, local bicycle enthusiasts, started Streets Alive of SWFL, a local non-profit. The original goal was to have an event to increase physical activity in a safe setting by closing some of our streets to cars and open them to people to ride their bicycle, walk, run, skate, etc. Though successful, after 2 years we realized there were other needs for bicycle/pedestrian safety such as education and advocacy and a lot more. Streets Alive of SWFL’s mission is to foster a livable community through activities, advocacy, education and service, in short, our vision is to create safer places for bicyclists and pedestrians in Southwest Florida.
We collaborate with residents and organizations who want to be part of the change with us. We work on bridging the gap between government services and community needs for bicycle and pedestrian safety. We do this by creating partnerships to help us sustain our goal and expand our capacity and outreach proving again that it takes all of us, the collective is what makes a difference.
With the desire to have constant improvement toward our goals, and to think out of the box, we knew we had to be bold for bicycle safety improvements. We had a new idea for Just Ride and that is why we applied to be part of the Second Muse cohort.
We are working to launch Just Ride, the first comprehensive bike share system for our Southwest Florida region with the twist of inspiring local change to enhance current bicycle infrastructure assets in order to be launched. The business model is a bicycle share system aligned with the safety enhancement of bicycle routes and generating funds to enhance safety education for the community. The enhancement of the bicycle infrastructure will incorporate safety and education along the route to provide confidence to users and enhance the use of the route through creative positive informative messaging, map signs, etc.
Just Ride is the inspiration for change and moving this project forward has been a “ride” of opportunities through the Second Muse cohort. Being part of it has been an amazing experience that has otherwise not been available here in our community.
Imagine being surrounded by driven, creative, amazing entrepreneurs, mentors and advisors who challenge you, inspire you and support your dreams? That is what it is like being part of the SecondMuse cohort. Most of all, I appreciate being part because it is a nurturing environment where we contribute to the local ecosystem of people, community and networks, a win-win for the economy and for us a big win for a bicycle share that more than riding aspires to inspire change, funding initiatives for bicycle safety and opening the doors to an activity for residents and tourists.
Fostering a livable community through our efforts at Streets Alive of SWFL and through Just Ride will enhance the quality of life of everyone here and it connects us as community to be part of the change.
We operate this nonprofit with your support and engagement, visit our page to learn more about us, to contact us or donate, www.streetsaliveswfl.org.
About SecondMuse and its Partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
SecondMuse is an international company that collaborates with visionary governments, corporations, foundations and startups to build 21st-century economies. At the core of our economies are people, communities and networks. From Brooklyn to Bali, our programs span geographies, sectors and size of business. We tackle essential challenges in manufacturing, energy, capital, education, mental health, data, civic engagement, food, blockchain, disaster risk and more around the world. Located in Collaboratory and in partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, SecondMuse launched in February 2019 and is currently working with its first cohort of local entrepreneurs.
Some of SecondMuse’s current programs include NASA’s Space Apps Challenge, NYCEDC’s Futureworks, the M-Corps cleantech manufacturing program with NYSERDA, The Incubator Network with Circulate Capital to battle ocean plastics, and LAUNCH, accelerating technologies for the circular economy. Explore SecondMuse at SecondMuse.com, follow on Twitter and Instagram, or reach out any time at Secondmuse.com/contact.