Who is doing it, and any suggestions?
I want to start some rides for beginners and wanted suggestions. Are there national programs that can give support, ideas and suggestions? What is the demographics, frequency, and skill levels of ride participants? Who pays what and what are the costs?
LAB and Thunderhead Alliance are two U.S. organizations that can provide support, ideas and suggestions.
The annual Cary Cycling Celebration has always included short, low-pace beginner rides on neighborhood streets. I have helped lead some of them.
Jennifer Lewis in Raleigh, NC started organizing beginner rides on Sundays with the objective of riding all of the signed bike routes in Raleigh, most of which are on pleasant collector roads. She has attracted a diverse following of cyclists on these short, fairly slow rides. My son and I joined her on one ride(my son in his trailer.) Her web page on these rides is
Zonda Hillman created the "Slow Spokes" spinoff from the NC Bicycle Club (of which I am advocacy officer) to organize slower rides and attract more beginners to cycling. Her groups tend to be roadies with a more casual pace in mind. A news article on her can be found here:
A few areas in NC have developed bicycle commuter mentorship programs. I have volunteered for one in the RTP area:
here is some more detail of one in Charlotte:
I've created my own scenic beginner ride that I lead every once in a while when I find some beginners interested in a pleasant spin. I've mapped it here:
In addition to a slower pace and no-drop policy, I think beginner rides benefit from having an interesting destination along the way for a short break. (My ride has multiple optional stops at historic landmarks.) Another good thing to include is a strong social component. Ending the ride with a meal at a restaurant seems to encourage the riders and leaves them with an even better memory of the experience overall. Of course, you'll want to pick someplace inexpensive and casual.
All of the short beginner rides I've done (including those described above) were free to participants, except food. There are usually enough of us volunteers around who like helping beginners enjoy cycling that we'll put in the time and money to make maps and cue sheets, and lead the rides, just for the pleasure of it.