If you’re a regular reader of the Bicycle Roots blog and/or other local transportation and bike-centric blogs, you’ve heard about the Bicycle Roots Campaign to #HoldAISAccountable. We’ve planned a critical-mass Twitter blast, targeting key individuals and organizations and letting them know that cyclists and other vulnerable road users demand more accountability from the NYPD and the AIS (Accident Investigation Squad) in collisions between drivers and users of alternative transportation. If you’re new to the action, you can check out the details at the link: http://bit.ly/P4KWIU

We’ve scheduled the campaign for 12 noon on Monday, September 17th. Heard about our campaign, agree that vulnerable road users need to be protected, but need a little help mastering Twitter functions to get involved? Never fear: Twitter is easy to use and can be a powerful tool for activists. We’ll be going over how to use the Twitter functions relevant for the campaign. So sign up, sign in and get involved.

Of all the different forms of social media available today, Twitter has distinguished itself as the most useful for activists. It has been used to coordinate protests and other actions in countries such as Iran and the Sudan. Even here in the United States, political organizations use Twitter to communicate with elected officials and potential supporters of their causes.

Most forms of social media require users to know each other or confirm a relationship before communication between users can take place. Twitter is unique in that it allows everyday citizens unprecedented access to elected officials and other big-name personalities. Never been invited to Mike Bloomberg’s mansion or one of his fundraisers? Don’t have NYC City Comptroller John Liu on your speed dial? Never received a personal email from New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn? With Twitter, it doesn’t matter. All you have to do is search for them on Twitter, confirm that you have the proper account, and with basic Twitter functions, you can start a conversation.

Starting a conversation on Twitter is easy. Just use the “@” symbol and username and your Tweet will show up on the user’s feed.

Our Campaign to Hold AIS Accountable will be going live at 12 noon on Monday, September 17th. We’ll be tweeting the hashtag #HoldAISAccountable as well as the link to our campaign to the following individuals and organizations:

But wait!, you may be saying, How can I make sure that the right person sees my Tweets? And what’s a hashtag?

Targeting an individual in a tweet is easy to do. All you have to do is put the @ symbol in front of their Twitter username. For example, if you want to tell  Bicycle Roots that you’re in on the campaign, you’d just tweet the following: “@BicycleRoots, I’m in! Let’s #HoldAISAccountable!”

Hashtags are phrases and keywords preceded by #, such as #bikenyc (one of the more popular ones for the bike community) or #HoldAISAccountable. These keywords indicate that an individual is referencing a certain topic. Twitter interprets hashtags as links once you publish your Tweet, so anyone who clicks on a certain hashtag will see a feed of all the Twitter posts that reference it.

See who’s talking about a certain topic in the Trends feed.

Popular hashtags become “trends”, which you’ll find to the left of your feed. Trends allow you to see what people in your area are talking about in real time. Unlike a regular hashtag, they’re visible to all Twitter users in a certain geographic area, whereas a hashtag is visible only to someone directly involved in a conversation or watching a certain feed.

Our goal is for the #HoldAISAccountable hashtag to become a trend, by getting a critical mass of people to use the tag in conversation at a given time. This will help us to bring awareness of the issue to New York City at large. By expanding our reach beyond the cycling community and targeted individuals, we gain access to mainstream media outlets through which we can further our cause and make the city streets safer for all road users.

Feeling tongue tied? Bicycle Roots recommends the following template for your tweets,

@MikeBloomberg, Make it safer to #bikenyc! It’s time to #HoldAISAccountable http://bit.ly/P4KWIU

but feel free to let personalize your tweets to suit your voice. Just keep in mind, all tweets in this campaign must include the following information:

  1. Target an individual or organization from our list using their Twitter username and the @ symbol
  2. Incorporate the hashtag #HoldAISAccountable
  3. And don’t forget the link to the campaign details and demands: http://bit.ly/P4KWIU

Know someone you’d think would be interested in helping us hold the AIS accountable? Feel free to invite them to join in via Twitter, email or Facebook. Our editor is also answering inquiries via email: cassandrabicycleroots@gmail.com.

Thanks for helping Bicycle Roots in our campaign to make streets safer for cyclists and other users of alternative transit. The NYPD and AIS have demonstrated their lack of concern for vulnerable road users in the way they handle incidents between drivers and users of alternative transit, all too often applying the designation “No Criminality Suspected” even when it’s undeniable that a driver has been behaving recklessly or carelessly. Even under criticism, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the NYPD’s Ray Kelly have defended the NYPD and AIS. Without outside pressure, these institutions have no incentive to change—and that’s why we’re working to #HoldAISAccountable!