Louisville Bicycle Club
January-February 2009 Newsletter

From the President
Strength in Numbers

by


LBC membership continues to increase. As the season ended we went over the 1,100 mark. That’s more than double what it was eight years ago. No doubt the wonderful touring program is the principal reason most join. But some of the data points to other reasons you might be interested to learn about.

For example, more than 20 LBC members don't live in Kentucky or Indiana. A few are members who’ve moved away but have family, property or sentimental ties to Louisville. Others became members when they came to ride the Old Kentucky Home Tour and have kept up their support from year to year. An additional 50 or so Kentucky and Indiana residents live as far away as Lexington, Owensboro and Indianapolis.

Some of the most interesting data concerns local residents who only rarely show up in the club statistician’s reports but who join the club and annually re-up their memberships. A little more than 200 rode a total of less than 100 miles in the 2008 season. Another 350 or so didn’t record any club miles in 2008. No doubt some of both groups rode on their own or with friends.

So why has almost half the membership joined if they don’t actively participate in the club’s core activity? What else do they get from their memberships?

Since donations to LBC are not tax deductible -—we are a non-profit 501(c) 4 social welfare organization not a charity—- we assume that they were not motivated by eleemosynary motives. (And Treasurer Jim Tretter confirms that none has asked for their money back because they mistook LBC for the Louisville Boat Club located on frequently routed River Road.)

Riders for fitness and fun comprise the greater part of the membership. (A few may join for the same reasons that gym memberships peak at New Year’s: Good intentions to get in shape. But that wouldn’t account for the steady, sustained increase in LBC members.)

It’s clear that cycling has tapped into other trends. One is the environmental movement: Some join because they want to see cycling promoted as an alternative to gasolinepowered motor vehicles and one way to address the climate change threat.

But I believe that the greatest reason for the increase in membership among all groups of riders --low-mileage and others-- is the success of our advocacy program.

LBC created the advocacy program in 1995 with the election of the first advocacy VP. Since then, the program has grown and, especially in the last few years, has forged relations with the Louisville Metro that have led to visible changes in the city’s cycling infrastructure and promotion of cycling as emblematic of the progressive city that Louisville aspires to become.

In the last edition of the Newsletter I wrote that the city’s efforts were at a crossroad, that a loss of focus put us at risk of losing the progress that had been made since the Mayor’s first Bike Summit in 2005, a lack of focus that had led to the postponement of Bike Summit II, which had been scheduled for November. I’m glad to say things have improved a lot since then and the summit is back on track and set for February 12.

The summit can accommodate about 500 people. I hope that all LBC members who can spend at least a part of that day at the summit can participate. We’ll start with a review of progress to date and then look at the criteria that the city will use to measure its progress towards the silver level bicycle-friendly designation of the League of American Bicyclists and your input on the steps that need to be taken to get there. Finally, we’ll work on mapping routes for signage, lane creation and other bicycle facilities with the goal of each Louisville resident being able to bike his/her way to nearby commercial centers and to the network of arterial roads that will take them throughout the county.

It is an ambitious program that cannot succeed without participation of cyclists from all over the city. Mark your calendars and look for information soon on http://www.louisvilleky.gov/bikelouisville about how to register.

Helping to make Louisville bicycle-friendly will help make LBC an even larger organization, which in turn will allow its members to improve bicycle facilities and programs, which in turn will increase membership, which...

A vicious cycle only to the cyclophobic.


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web posted: 17 Jan 2009
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