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Community Relations: Improving Cyclists' Image
There are important reasons for cycling groups to establish strong connections with their communities, no matter what your goal. Whether you're aiming for a Bicycle Friendly Community award, access to public roads for your century ride, better understanding of cyclists needs and behaviors, or more members, a community relations plan is key.
In our October Club Leadership Webinar, three local cycling leaders discussed their low-cost approaches to improving the relationship between their organization and the surrounding communities.
Joel Hoback gave an overview of the Shawnee Trail Cycling Club's approach to community relations. At the heart of his message was focus - know what you're trying to accomplish, and devote your attention where you know you are strong. For Shawnee Trail Cycling Club, their goals were to 1) Be the ones that communities and organizations call on when help is needed; and 2) Don’t be that organization that is only seen rushing to “save the day” for cyclists when there’s an issue. One recent success built on their relationships with the neighboring jurisdictions of Frisco and The Colony. A bike path between the two communities is now under construction, offering an alternative to the busy arterial roads that offer the only current connection. Download Joel's presentation.
Ryan Kragerud told how his rag-tag Wednesday night cruiser ride came together with the local riding club to form an effective local advocacy organization, Bicycle Longmont, which has helped move Longmont to Silver Bicycle Friendly Community status. Ryan's Bike Night rides continue, and involve a greater number of riders each year, benefiting both the organization and their community. Longmont is not a college town, nor a tourist town. Ryan's takeaway "if we can do it, so can you." Download Ryan's presentation.
Steve Alfred's presentation on the Hilton Head Island bicycle ambassadors provided the full structure for a low-cost ambassador program. While Hilton Head Island's ambassadors help tourists bike safely and responsibly, the program could be implemented anywhere, focusing on local or visiting riders. Download Steve's presentation.