Interview with Georgia Case of Idea Group

Above: Georgia by Matt Fukushima. Below: Screen shot from the 4th "Love Letters" video "Stop in the Name of Love" - click on the image to go to the Bike Long Beach "Love Letters" page.

 

MB: The Love Letters Public Service Announcements are part of Share Our Streets, a multi-media road safety campaign that your company Idea Group created for Bike Long Beach. Tell us more about them.

Georgia: Love Letters address the real-world issues of road and bicycle safety via five short animated videos. Each vignette illustrates the two characters, Auto and Bicycle’s, affection and desire to share the road together through an exchange of love notes. The letters also express their inherent struggles -- the road conflicts they need to address to live harmoniously together – like stopping at stop signs and being sensitive about looking before opening the car door in the bike lane.

Love Letters is the brainchild of Margo Newman, a former project producer at Disney Imagineering R & D and her talented team which included animator Laura Yilmaz, Jaime Ryan Heinz and Musa Brooker.

The spots were created as content for the new bikelongbeach.org website and were distributed to all 70+ Long Beach elementary schools and middle schools, local cable channels, LBTV3 and Padnet, as well as preview ad spots for the local movie theatres.

Above: "12 Tips for a Safe Trip" brochure cover from Share Our Streets - click here to go to the Share Our Streets toolkit to download the brochure pdf. Shown in image Lexi Cruz, daughter of Long Beach Bicycle Ambassador Tony Cruz. Image by Matt Fukushima.

MB: What is the premise behind the Share Our Streets campaign? What did it hope to accomplish?

Georgia: The campaign was modest in terms of dollars but ambitious in its goal to raise awareness that bicyclists are increasing in numbers on Long Beach roadways and that both motorists and bicyclists need to be aware of the key rules of the road to co-exist safely and happily together. I say happily because it was very important from the onset to portray the campaign in positive terms continuing the theme of Long Beach as a premiere bicycle-friendly community.

The campaign used street banners, exterior and interior bus ads, transit shelter ads and pocket guides that targeted key safety messages that are site-specific to Long Beach, such as “Bike with the Flow of Traffic” which is the leading preventable cause of bike-car collisions here; and “Be Visible Day & Night,” by using hand signals when making turns, wearing bright and contrasting clothing and using headlights and rear reflectors at night, for example. There were "12 Rules to Live By" that were used in a variety of media to get the word out.

Above: Aidan Cruz, son of Long Beach Bicycle Ambassador Tony Cruz in front of pole banners with his image. Image: Melissa Balmer, pole banner images Allan Crawford.

The team had a lot of fun creating a colorful and very personable brand for Bike Long Beach: Melissa, you were integral to this effort as was Baktaash Sorkhabi of A Whole Lotta BS; Jay Doronio of Parallel-Play, Danielle Dana and photographers Matt Fukishima and Allan Crawford whose work is really top-notch. We had a dynamo of an intern named Claire Watanabe who is now promoting bicycling in Berkeley of all things.

Above: From left Lillian Kawasaki of the Metropolitan Water Board and Wilson High School student Kyla Mandas in a Share Our Streets Transit Shelter ad. Image: Matt Fukushima.

MB: You have been involved in promoting bicycling in Long Beach for a long time. What are some of the challenges that the city faces in increasing safe cycling trips?

Geogia: Yes, since 1996 when my husband John Case and I opened Bikestation Long Beach in downtown. There’s no doubt that we need to continue to be vigilant about stopping wrong-way riding and encouraging the use of lights and reflectors at night. And we need to do more to remind motorists to be on the lookout for bicyclists when approaching driveways and turning right at intersections, the leading cause of car-bike collisions in Long Beach. We are seeing enormous cooperation on behalf of Long Beach Transit and the Long Beach Police Department in helping to spread the word.

Above: Image of the cover of the "Walk Your Bike" postcards and mini posters for Share Our Streets. Shown in image from left Joen Garnica of Garnica Interiors and Elizabeth Williams of Cali Bike Tours. Image: Matt Fukushima

MB: And the opportunities?

Georgia: Well, the sky is the limit for Long Beach! We’ve proven through political leadership, and skillful expertise in public administration and passionate advocacy, that we are capable of creating sustainable and connected infrastructure and support programs that are allowing people to bicycle safely and more often. More people bicycling inherently makes the road safer for everyone.

The new bikelongbeach.org website, another key strategy of the Share Our Streets campaign, was designed to help people and organizations to be better informed and engaged with the opportunities that exist through Bike Long Beach and within the city in general. For example, there is a community events calendar on the site that links to classes, tours and safety rodeos; custom maps and rides; and a directory of more than 175 Bike Saturdays businesses (part of Bike Long Beach's "Bike Friendly Business District Program") that offer patrons specials and discounts when they bike instead of drive. There are also numerous links to a host of bike clubs, safety information and how-to tips for novices and experts alike.

Above: The Share Our Streets interior bus ad in Spanish. Shown in image from left bike advocate Katie Taylor, Bernard Serrano of Cyclone Coasters, Geraldine Knatz of the Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach Bicycle Ambassador Tony Cruz and graphic designer and avid bicyclist Marco Cortes. Images by Matt Fukushima and Allan Crawford.

MB: And there is an expansive number of reports, plans and downloadable materials…

Georgia: That’s right. The Bike Long Beach team is constantly uploading reports on past and future community projects and related safety data and bike statistics. In fact, an amazing ten years of safety data and bike counts was recently published on the blog. There’s a bike parking rack catalog for businesses who want to order a free rack installed on the public right-of-way and downloadable safety brochures and information for schools and community groups to order or print on the spot. The public is also invited to sign up for the Chain Letter, an e-newsletter published every quarter.

Above: One of the bus advertisements for Share Our Streets. Image: Allan Crawford

MB: It’s exciting there are so many programs to encourage a more active lifestyle in Long Beach. You are also involved in promoting walking, what’s happening in that arena?

Georgia: Biking and walking go hand-in-hand in making a city more livable and Long Beach, through public and private efforts, is positioning itself to become a world-class city for both bicycling and walking. It’s really a smart strategy for attracting a sophisticated workforce to live here, tourists to come and visit and a means for providing access to our underserved populations, many of whom rely on getting around without a car and whose health will benefit.

Through a network of organizations, Walk Long Beach is getting off the ground by offering walk audits and developing safe routes through parks and neighborhoods to encourage more people to get physically active and engaged in their community. And as a co-founder of City Fabrick, a urban planning and policy nonprofit, we started creating a vision of Walking Loops, a series of beautifully themed maps to help people realize there’s no shortage of interesting and satisfying places to walk in Long Beach.

About Georgia Case

Georgia Case is the principal of Idea Group, a communications resource for nonprofit and business enterprises on PR, marketing and fundraising strategies. She has helped to develop and launch a number of nonprofit organizations and social-benefit projects including Bikestation Long Beach, a bike-transit parking facility that expanded nationally and spawned a local initiative to be “the most bicycle-friendly city in the US,” an effort that has raised more than $22 million in transportation funding. Her other projects have included work with Bikeable Communities, Clean Mobility Center, NGV/USA, Neighbors of Rancho Los Cerritos and most recently, City Fabrick, an urban planning, policy and design nonprofit that champions for a sustainable and equitable built environment in greater Long Beach. She may be reached at: georgia@ideagroup.us.