Bicyclists to spell support for Obama

Election cycle
By GREG COOK  |  October 9, 2008

TWO-WHEELERS: Bicyclists for Obama.

There are the usual ways of spelling out your support for a candidate, and then there’s this weekend’s “Bike Write for Obama.”

Sarah Sandman, 28, is organizing a group “typographic bike ride” across Providence on Sunday to signal support Barack Obama for president and to promote alternative forms of transportation.

The idea is that the eight-mile pedal, which begins at 2 pm outside the Providence Center, at Hope and Cypress streets, and ends at Broad and Saratoga streets, will spell out Obama’s slogan “Yes we can” — so you can see it from the air. Expect some doubling back as riders stay within the lines.

“I’m a grad student in graphic design, so I’m constantly trying to find ways to reinvent typography,” Sandman says. “The idea of a group, to not only have a message, but to also be literally writing it, is really powerful, I think.”

The ride will include three stops along the way to hand out pro-Obama fliers. All are welcome to join in the ride. Sandman is asking participants to wear yellow; she’ll be selling $6 event T-shirts. Additional info can be found at the Steel Yard blog (

“I feel like traditional canvassing is so expected,” Sandman says. “When people approach me with a clipboard, it’s like: how many times has this happened? You just turn your attention away.” She hopes Sunday’s ride “shows another level of dedication to the cause.”

Obama’s positions, Sandman says, are more in tune with her ideals of sustainable living than his opponent’s: “His environmental policies just sound a little bit better than what McCain’s offering” — “Drill, baby, drill.”

One of the people helping Sandman organize the ride is her bike-art pal Melissa Small, 27, who is also working towards master’s degrees in graphic design at RISD.

Between June 14 and August 30, the two women biked from Providence to Seattle as part of their “Gift Cycle” tour. They stopped at 12 communities along the way, each time giv-ing away art made by people at their previous stop in exchange for art by people at their current location, which they in turn passed along at the next stop, and so on.

Here and there people joined them for bits of their trip, or rode with them out of town. “Every time it would happen, it was the most empowering experience,” Sandman says.

“We’re just interested in exploring new ways of communication,” Small says of Sunday’s ride. “I’m hoping it invites conversations with people along the way, people we wouldn’t necessarily meet or talk to in our day-to-day lives.”

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  Topics: This Just In , Barack Obama, Barack Obama, Elections and Voting,  More more >
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