The concept for the North Dakota Active Transportation Alliance (NDATA) came to me in 2013. It was evident to me that there was no statewide advocacy occurring in North Dakota to promote the safety and relevance of non-motorized roadway users. Yes, the North Dakota Department of Transportation had finally made an effort to add bicycling and walking to its website and had been making Federal transportation monies available through a grant program but statewide advocacy did not exist. It was time to be the change that I wanted to see in this great state. Starting a statewide advocacy group is not simple nor is success guaranteed but something really got my attention in the darkest of ways. I met a woman who’s husband was killed by a distracted driver while he was cycling on the east side of North Dakota. The story is tragic and his death was very preventable. The motorist simply needed to pay attention to driving his motor vehicle and not using his cell phone while driving.
Bicyclists and pedestrians are dying on North Dakota roadways and the judicial system seems to be taking almost no steps to hand down strong sentences that will truly discourage motorists from driving distracted. There is much room for discussion about the cost of injuring and killing non-motorized roadway users. What is the cost of an emergency services call? The cost is high when you include the law enforcement response, fire department response, ambulance service response, loss of income for the victim and their family, insurance payout, judicial costs etc. all because somebody had to make that one “crucial” text or take that one great selfie.
Other topics that the NDATA will work on will be development of: education and awareness programs, the United States Bicycle Route system through North Dakota, active transportation events, legislative campaigns, and improved infrastructure for bicycling, walking, running, skateboarding etc.
I hope you will join me on this journey to make active transportation safer and more relevant in North Dakota. It won’t take days or weeks; it will take years. This is very obvious to me as I deal with the North Dakota legislature and hear stories of a legal system that may not have all the tools it needs to effectively reduce distracted driving and a judicial system that does not appear sensitive enough to non-motorists who use North Dakota roadways. I look forward to working with the NDATA’s board members and membership to get to the root of these issues so as to change the culture of transportation in North Dakota. Together we can make positive changes but we will have to have the mind set of marathon runners and century riders. We will build alliances throughout North Dakota to make roadways safer for bicyclists, runners and walkers one “mile” at a time.
At this time there is no cost to join the NDATA. If you are interested in being at the front of a statewide effort to make active transportation in North Dakota safer and more relevant please provide your name and contact information through the “Contact” button and I will get in touch with you.
I look forward to working with you as we make North Dakota a great state to bicycle, run and walk in and through.
Executive Director, North Dakota Active Transportation Alliance