Bike Cleveland: An Update
Six months ago, Bike Cleveland gathered over 200 people in a banquet room in the Flats with wide windows that offer sightlines across the Cuyahoga onto antique riverside architecture, and bikes were on everyone’s mind.
The room was full of people from all over the region, and we were well into the second day of an intensive strategic planning process. We’d been slinging around ideas and opinions for hours on end. And we were collectively teetering on the brink of a new direction for bicycling in this city.
In the year before this group gathered in the Flats, a smaller assortment of people got together to plan that two-day planning process, which came to be called the Bike Cleveland Summit. The Summit’s goal: charge an array of Clevelanders with designing the mission, vision and strategy for a new bicycle advocacy organization, of the sort that has been active in other cities around the country for years.
To facilitate the Summit, we hired a consultant from the Washington, D.C. -based Alliance for Bicycling and Walking. We invited speakers from impressive bicycle advocacy organizations in Pittsburgh, Columbus and Chicago. And by the end of that weekend in the Flats—that most unique of Cleveland localities—we came out with a plan and a strategy that is distinctly Cleveland. And last month, Bike Cleveland hired it’s first Executive Director, Jacob VanSickle.
It is exciting that Cleveland has joined the ranks of Portland, Chicago, and even Pittsburgh in having a full-time, salaried independent voice for cycling to represent our community. It is also exciting that we’ve assembled a stellar Board of Directors to guide the new organization, and to help overseeing a growing membership that supports and directs our strategies.
While this is an exciting time for biking in our region and for Bike Cleveland, it also comes with great obligation. Dedicated members, our Board of Directors and our new executive director are developing an organization work plan based on the wonderful and inspiring direction we received from last September’s Bike Cleveland Summit. This work plan will include advocating for policies that will protect cyclists on the road, working to get more trails and bikeways built in our communities, and growing a truly sustainable organization to serve you. We believe cycling is absolutely vital to our region’s health, wellness, environment, equity and quality of life.
Things are many things we have already accomplished over the past six-months with our Board, staff, and many dedicated volunteer-members. We have been advoacting with the City of Cleveland to prioritize biking investments, like the West Shoreway project and the Bikeway Master Plan. We’re developing partnerships with numerous organizations to put on really fun biking events. We are partnering with national organizations to launch a region-wide summer Bike Commuter Challenge. And we are developing the needed framework to grow Bike Cleveland.
We’ve gotta shout out to those who have already become a member of Bike Cleveland. This organization is decidedly membership-based, which means we need you to help us advocate for cycling rights, infrastructure and a cycling-friendly culture. The financial cost of membership will directly support the organization’s work, and the individual exercise of membership will add to our voice. The more members we have, the louder our voice becomes.
If you haven’t yet become a member, join us today. We will be mailing out membership cards in April– which come paired with excellent membership privileges all over town (plus, think how slick you’ll look waving around that flashy membership card). You can become a member at BikeCleveland.org/membership.
If you’re looking for a way to get involved with Bike Cleveland beyond official membership, we already have three actions committees that would love more volunteers.
The Events and Programming committee helps create the social fabric that brings cyclists together. This committee plans and implements events that are effective, successful and help meet the mission of Bike Cleveland. We also partner with existing events that help meet the mission of Bike Cleveland.
The Advocacy committee helps frame how Bike Cleveland gets its voice heard. This committee crafts advocacy campaigns around issues that make the Cleveland area more bike friendly, and that meet the mission of Bike Cleveland.
The Membership committee helps to create a robust membership program. Membership is the spoke that keeps our organization’s wheels spinning; this committee works to ensure that Bike Cleveland has a strong and happy membership.
Other things on the horizon that get our blood pumping (in a good way): May’s Cleveland Bicycle Month, a national bike commuter challenge, and working to ensure the implementation of the City’s recently adopted complete and green streets ordinance.
Please, call us or send us email if you’re thinking about getting involved in any of these committees, projects, or ideas. Jacob can be reached at 216-BIKE-101 or jacob@BikeCleveland.org.
We’ve already come so far since last fall’s Summit. We think it’s fitting that the vision for a galvanized cycling community was dreamed up in the Flats, our city’s original neighborhood and the birthplace of our regional manufacturing industry. Is it a stretch to think that another big thing was born last September on those historic riverbanks? Chew on that while you’re riding around town–We’ll see you out on the road.