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  1. #1
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Starting a Bike Club

    Crazy idea, I know. Nonetheless I have it in mind to give this a go. Long post - skip to the questions at the bottom if you must.

    Background
    I live in a city of about 30k. We have two bike shops and a co-op, the latter of which I'm a principle. The bike club was dying when I moved here 15 years ago; my sense is they were strictly performance focused and pushed others away. Taking a wild guess I'd say we have 300 recreational road cyclists and maybe a couple dozen who race in some form. About 20 miles away we have a decent MTB-friendly State park, so there are some fairly serious MTB riders. We have a BMX track and a small BMX club. We have a growing number of commuters - the city is flat, fairly compact, with light traffic by big city standards. The city govt is supportive of cycling, with miles of MUPs in-place, the first bike-lanes just laid, and all future road project have bike lanes in the plan. The local hospital has a Healthy Communities program that's trying to encourage more walking and cycling.

    My interest
    Basically, I'm absurdly obsessed with cycling, have been my entire life. I like to share my passion for cycling with other people. I like to do community involvement work, and see a involvement in a cycling club as a way to combine the two. Also, I see a need/opportunity to pull some disconnected things together.

    Other Stuff
    I know of three unrelated group road rides going on weekly, 15-25 people each. Probably another two or three like that around town, and many smaller groups. We have several fund-raiser rides around town throughout the year that draw hundreds: The Beer Ride, the Hope Ride, The Girlfriend Ride, Tour de Trails. I know most of the people behind these rides. At the bike co-op we have a core of five volunteers, with another ten or so sometimes volunteers.

    My Vision
    My model club is CIBA in Indianapolis.
    A bike club focusing on organizing and holding rides, for club members but open to the community. Ride routes are marked, maps provided, so people can ride their own pace. I will focus on recreational road rides, but if we can pull in volunteers interested in BMX, MTB, Commuting, racing, that's fine. Some connection to the co-op. I'd like to see a different ride every weekend, with standing rides on weeknights/weekdays.

    So, my questions to those who are principles in bike clubs, or otherwise have relevant knowledge.

    1) Regarding liability insurance. Allowing non-members to participate is key to drawing people into cycling. Does this present an extra challenge from the liability perspective?

    2) For the people who currently have their own group rides going on, what's the draw to coming into the club? Insurance? Club mileage credit? I'm going to put some requirements on them, like marking their routes, providing maps, always being there on-time....

    3) It's crossed my mind to skip the traditional club idea and try to do this entirely on social media. Just not sure if we're going to draw new people in that way. Thoughts? (I'll have to take this with a grain of salt, since unlike normal people BF members are 100% online)

    4) With a population of 30k, can we sustain a club? We're not a college town, but we do have the highest number of mechanical engineers per-capita in the US
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1) Yes. Talk to several existing clubs to see how they handle the situation. I know some in Canada ceased to allow non-members to ride with them because of the insurance issues.

    2) How are you different from the other 3 clubs in the area? And just curious, but how do you plan to mark routes?

    3) You should have some sort of online presence ... a website of some sort, preferably with links to your routes, calendar, etc.

    4) Tough to tell ... again, how are you different from the other 3 clubs?

  3. #3
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    1) Yes. Talk to several existing clubs to see how they handle the situation. I know some in Canada ceased to allow non-members to ride with them because of the insurance issues.
    That would be unfortunate. Maybe even a showstopper for me. I just sent an email off to the CIBA president, so we'll see what he says.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    2) How are you different from the other 3 clubs in the area? And just curious, but how do you plan to mark routes?
    The other three are not clubs, just groups of friends who ride together. What's the difference? There is no organization other than somebody who puts the word out that the ride is on or off this week. There is no preplanned route, nor route markings, no advertising. They don't track mileage... just a group of friends with one regular ride.

    Rides in this area are typically marked with a Dan Henry at turns - two before one after. I mark the Parks&Rec "Tour de Trails" route each year for the city. I suppose between that and leading rides for CIBA when I was there, I've been marking routes for 25 years. It's occasionally necessary to black out old marks to prevent confusion. Standing rides are painted with durable highway paint, while weekend rides are painted with cheaper paint that wears off quicker.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    3) You should have some sort of online presence ... a website of some sort, preferably with links to your routes, calendar, etc.
    Definitely some presence... question is could we do this with only an online presence?

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    4) Tough to tell ... again, how are you different from the other 3 clubs?
    See above
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  4. #4
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    1) I believe all the local clubs in my area (SF East Bay) allow non-members to participate. Not sure what their various insurance companies think about the practice. IIRC, the LAB associated insurance policy specifies that non-members are allowed to come on one club ride before joining.

    2) For myself, I liked the variety of rides offered by a larger club and that the ride leadership responsibility would be split among many more people. The club also offers some other social activities.

    3) One option would be the 'MeetUp' groups which you can start up on their website.

    4) Sounds like there are enough cyclists. Depends on whether they share the interest in joining a club.

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    The other three are not clubs, just groups of friends who ride together. What's the difference?
    Liability. If you're just a small group of friends going for a ride, and everyone has input into where you're going to go etc. etc., no one is liable if something goes wrong. But if you're a club and there is a ride organiser who prepares routes and cue sheets etc., suddenly the club and ride organiser become liable.

    And that's where the insurance issue comes in.


    Quote Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
    Rides in this area are typically marked with a Dan Henry at turns - two before one after. I mark the Parks&Rec "Tour de Trails" route each year for the city. I suppose between that and leading rides for CIBA when I was there, I've been marking routes for 25 years. It's occasionally necessary to black out old marks to prevent confusion. Standing rides are painted with durable highway paint, while weekend rides are painted with cheaper paint that wears off quicker.
    I don't know what a "Dan Henry" is, but if you're painting public roads, or suggesting people paint public roads, you may need to get permission from your local county (shire), or state. It is illegal in some places.

    For example: http://www.co.sibley.mn.us/public_wo...way_r-o-w.html


    And if you are hoping for more than a certain number of people, you may need to get some sort of permit.

    This is the event advice for the state where I live:
    http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/NR/rd...RPIN006122.pdf

    Your plan isn't an event, but regular club rides may need some sort of permit as well, depending on the number of people you get out.


    If you want to start a club, you'll have to sort out some of these legalities.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    If you want to start a club, you'll have to sort out some of these legalities.
    Including a constitution or set of rules establishing the club, the forms of membership, office bearers, etc. You may also need to be accountable to the government with registration and such, and especially if there is money involved. Which then means budgets and book-keeping and a bank account.

    Audax Australia allows non-members to ride their events but the non-members have to pay a premium (an extra $5 that covers the additional insurance premium cost). AA is affiliated with the national cycling organisation, Cycling Australia, an affiliation that came about because of very high insurance premiums for small, independent bodies. You might need to explore the possibiiltity of affiliating with the LAW for the same reason.

    Good luck!
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  7. #7
    Rolling along fas2c's Avatar
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    Where I live there is a movement to put together a bike club. It began as a humble local area Yahoo bike group with some dedicated road riders who were looking for others to ride with. It has grown to an area wide list now including another Yahoo group from a nearby military base.

    The main people involved have gotten with the city planners as well as the local city recreation dept and the Mayor and had a few meetings and emails from the Yahoo groups. The problems encountered was the different groups of riders and how to represent them i.e. The road riders, mountain bikers, the family recreational riders. The city wanted to be able to help with the club as it intends to bring the city to a Bronze Level bike freindly city, currently the city isn't bike freindly at all. The other problem with the city getting invloved is being a "city" club is those who like distinguish themselves as being county residents may feel slighted. or not want to be involved with a city club.

    Here it is 2 years later and not much as progressed past the idea stage and a few meetings. I think that a web-site is in the works, but no official name yet, and very loose affiliations with local businesses and city/county involvemnet. The main group being represented is the road riders as there are several charity rides and a city sponsored Criterium held annually. These riders are usually heavily involved with these organizations, mapping/marking the rides, assisting with the events and get the word of the proposed "club" out into the streets.

    The mountain bike crowd voice is minimal at best. Most of the vocal mtn bikers are military and the best trails were being maintained by them on post which once they were mainstreamed access was shutdown by the installation due to liability, dangerous activity being brocasted on the web, ect. So now this crowd has pretty much stepped back and gone underground.

    The family recreational riders haven't been heard from much either.

    What has happened though is the road riders have organized and gotten more city/county involvemnet. Recent road upgrades have given way to bike lanes with a city wide plan to upgrade road with bike lanes that have been mapped out, as well as rail-to-trail conversions too. Also several organized rides have been made more or less permenant rides being held every week with standarized start times, maps, and several ride groups depending on length of the ride and pace. Ridership in these rides are growing too.

    I know from attending one of the first meetings the desire was to grown and hold more organized rides, not nessicarially road rides, but kid's races, fun rides, organized trips as a "team" to out-of-town rides, to grow cycling in the area in general (fellowship). And yes, to have more local "race" events in which to ride

  8. #8
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the inputs, I really appreciate it.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

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