Riding by Example Advocacy in Anchorage

BL_photoA talk with Brian Litmans, bike advocate extraordinaire.

It seems that many conversations related to bicycle advocacy in Anchorage can be traced
back to one person.

Brian Litmans, president of Bike Anchorage, a non-profit organization with the mission to make Anchorage more bicycle-friendly, started the organization after moving from Portland, OR in 2007. Litmans and other bike commuters in Anchorage saw the need for an advocacy organization to complement the recreational bicycling organizations already in Alaska. “Portland was an easy city for me to get anywhere I needed by bike,” Litmans said, explaining what got him started as an advocate. “I never thought twice about it. When I moved up here, I knew that becoming a bike advocate was going to be an important thing for me.

Why he commutes by bike:

“I love the health aspects of it. I love the mental relief I get – biking to work, I get to think about things at work, and biking home,” he laughed, “I get to kind of forget things at work.” Litmans also explained that “Just being on the greenbelt and enjoying Anchorage in that regard; seeing all these folks commuting by car on Ingra and Gambell and going under them through a tunnel—it’s pretty nice to not be in traffic every day.”

Becoming an integral part of bike advocacy in Anchorage:

Litmans’ advocacy for bicycling grew over time, as did Bike Anchorage (originally Bicycle Commuters
of Anchorage). In addition to serving as President of Bike Anchorage, Litmans is a member of the Anchorage Metropolitan Area Transportation Solutions (AMATS) Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC). AMATS is a federally-required, metropolitan planning organization that allocates federal transportation funds to projects in the Anchorage area. The BPAC provides recommendations to the AMATS Technical Advisory Committee about bicycle and pedestrian issues. This committee helps to ensure that Anchorage has quality, connected routes for bike commuters and recreational users.

The future of bicycling in Anchorage:

Litmans said that what Anchorage really needs is for more people to get involved and speak up about biking priorities. “There is a strong community in Anchorage that wants to see the city become a safer place to bike, but change in Anchorage won’t come without others jumping into the mix.”

He encouraged BikeLife readers to get involved with Bike Anchorage as a volunteer. Volunteers help with any number of tasks required to run a nonprofit organization, including behind the scene duties, advocacy and outreach.

Reflecting on why this is a rewarding opportunity, he said, “It’s fun to know that you’re part of something that’s changing the city for the better.”

For more information, visit bikeanchorage.org/volunteer.