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  1. #1
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    Local Beaucracy...

    To whom may help,
    I live in a community (150K+) that has the places and spaces for off-road trails...yes no off-road trails currently exist in Sioux Falls SD!!! I have to travel to the Twin Cities to enjoy mtn biking legally. I know that at some time in the past there was an attempt at cultivating a relationship with the city and mtn bicyclists...unfortunately the cultivation is seemingly on hold and I intend to revive this relationship! I do not stand alone, there are plenty of dedicated riders who are more than willing to join forces and conquer the demand for trails. If at all possible can I get a couple of things - rough outline on the process to get this moving, insight from others who have been in a similar situation, whjch associations to contact, etc...
    Bikes + Wedding = Less Bikes

  2. #2
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    I don't think mtb was forbidden in our local parks, it wasn't specifically permitted either. A lot of guys rode and built the trails with no complaints that I am aware of. Recently they've teamed up with the local roadie club and got the formal "okay" from the city to modify and maintain the trails.

  3. #3
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    just to give you an idea of the lack of concern for cyclists...it took the better part of 5yrs to establish ride safe lanes on 6 of our local streets...and when it occurred fellow taxpayers were complaining about cost incurred in terms of taped logos on the streets...i am currently trying to contact the roadies and the runners (bless their heart)...safety in numbers, whether people or named associations...
    Bikes + Wedding = Less Bikes

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by adubb25
    just to give you an idea of the lack of concern for cyclists...it took the better part of 5yrs to establish ride safe lanes on 6 of our local streets...and when it occurred fellow taxpayers were complaining about cost incurred in terms of taped logos on the streets...i am currently trying to contact the roadies and the runners (bless their heart)...safety in numbers, whether people or named associations...
    In the current political climate, it seems fashionable to complain about the cost and waste of everything. I say that intending it as a non-partisan statement.

    Hopefully, the elected officials and public servants of your community understand that signs and logos on the street are a visual aid and reminder to help keep everyone safe. Speaking more to the point of mountain biking, nothing wins over the actual park staff than volunteers coming out for trail days.

    Also look for allies (sounds like you are doing that with roadies / runners). How about x-country skiers? They like trails, too, and you aren't likely to have conflicts. Any high school level cycling teams in your area?

  5. #5
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    networking is not the difficult part when it comes to those who like to enjoy the outdoors...the issue with that may rear its evil head is the divide between us cyclists and those in the position that make decisions...here is the eternal question - how did i go about speaking with those in power, in terms of opening their eyes and joining the group of bike happy communities...???
    Bikes + Wedding = Less Bikes

  6. #6
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    I think the first step is to creat a club/association of users that would benefit the new trails... an outdoor (open to all) club... This shows the decision makers that there is a need out there. Then, you show a couple of studies that show them the potential revenues (from houses taking up values) and the potential economic spins it gets for the local stores and services... When money is positive, decision makers join in!

    If all you bring to the table is cost and needs, you get nothing. If you bring money benifits, community benefits and safety and new opportunities for the kids, everything sells a lot easier!
    ADSVMQ :: Quebec mountain bike trail advocacy group www.ADSVMQ.org

  7. #7
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    Do you have a local advocacy group? Nothing yields more power than a long list of members, and it's one of the first things a government agency wants to see. They want to know that there's a solid organization behind the project who will maintain the trails and outlast one or two individuals who may move away or lose interest.

    Make it a point to find out who owns the land and who manages it. In our area, town land is managed by the conservation commission. Find out when they meet and who is in charge. Walk the lands ahead of time so you have an idea of sensitive areas to avoid (like wetlands) and areas you want people to see - view points, water frontage, boulders, etc.

    We have great support in our town after scoring some significant grants and completing a few big projects. Once you have a few under your belt they will hopefully greet your new proposals with open arms.

  8. #8
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    adubb25,

    I think both of the above posts have great advice. What I would add is this:

    Tip O'Neil once said all politics is local. I can't tell you from here at my desk what the values, concerns, and constraints of your local decision makers are. You have to figure that out.

    You mentioned networking. Network with your local decision makers. Make an appointment with them during office hours if you can to talk about your ideas and hear them out on their concerns.

  9. #9
    Builder of Trails
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    From our well-spring of the most useful informatoin, IMBA:

    14 Tips to Make Your Club Politically Savvy

    1. Get Organized
    Don't wait for a crisis. Be organized and develop communication systems including website and email lists.

    2. Get a Feel for Your Political Landscape Post a map of your region and use pins to represent bike shops, cycling clubs and members. Identify political leaders: city, county, state and congressional elected officials as well as state trail council members and recreational trail committees.

    3. Pick Up the Phone and Schedule a Meeting If an access issue is imminent, do something. Pick up the phone and respectfully ask for a meeting with a local land manager. Too many times, trail access closures and restrictive decision-making occurs because of poor communication. Be the first to reach out and understand an issue before you form an opinion. Most land managers will be glad you called and happy to talk.

    4. Make Your Message Simple Develop a clear, simple message about how important cycling is to the local community (i.e. cycling combats obesity, brings tourism revenue, etc.) and be ready to repeat it over and over.

    5. Establish Connections with Policy MakersYour club should appoint official liaisons for parks and trail systems in the area. These delegates help land managers schedule trailwork days, offer advice on management issues, and alert the club when new trail management plans are being considered. Having existing working relationships with local elected officials helps everyone negotiate a satisfactory conclusion.

    6. Invite Elected Officials to Address Your Group Invite policy makers to address club meetings or trail dedication ceremonies. Use the event as an opportunity to educate candidates about local issues and establish your mountain bike club as a constituent group. Hold a candidate's forum or ask them to answer IMBA's candidate questionnaire, available at www.imba.com.

    7. Get Mountain Bikers Appointed to Trails CouncilsCity, county, state and federal public lands have governing councils. Savvy IMBA affiliated clubs attend these public meetings and some even have official capacities. Many IMBA Reps are members of state trails councils, county parks boards, BLM RAC's and city open space committees.

    8. Guest Newsletter Column Ask land managers, elected officials or other user groups to write guest columns on a particular topic for your club's newsletter.

    9. Be Part of the Trails Community Build coalitions with environmental, hiking, equestrian and other groups in your area. The more friends you have, the more collective lobbying power you have as a recreational trails community.

    10. Consider Changing Your 501(c)(3) Club Status Some IMBA affiliated clubs are moving from 501(c)(3) non-profit status to IRC section 527 and other designations. As an IRC 527, a club can endorse political candidates and raise money for political campaigns. There are pros and cons to changing your non-profit status. (A key one: only donations to 501(c)(3) groups are tax deductible.) Research and weigh all factors before deciding.

    11. Volunteer for Political Campaigns Once you have interviewed candidates, and selected one, don't be afraid to support them with old-fashioned sweat equity (unless your group is, or hopes to be, a 501(c)(3)). Stuff envelopes, go door-to-door or work on election day. If they get elected, they won't forget who helped them.

    12. Run for OfficeOne of the best ways to improve mountain biking access is to have mountain bikers at the highest levels of decision-making power. Consider having club members run for trails councils, park board or city and county office.

    13. Use Your Voice for the Greater GoodNow that you or your club is represented and active, use your voice for the greater good. Champion the issues of your local land management agencies. Listen to their concerns and offer to convey their message to members of Congress, state legislators, city and county elected officials or their staff.

    14. Follow-UpWrite thank you letters to elected officials, trail committee members and land managers letting them know that you appreciate their efforts. Make sure they receive your club newsletter.

  10. #10
    Builder of Trails
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    More:

    This applies mostly if you're an IMBA affiliated club, but maybe you can pull some info from it.

    Meeting with Elected Officials and Their Staff
    A Primer on What to Say, Wear, Bring, Expect and How to Follow-UpGeneral

    Meeting Format:

    Introductions
    IMBA 101 - Who we are and why mountain bicyclists matter!
    The "Asks"
    Introductions
    Simply go around the room and say your name, who you represent (if applicable, club, state, region, shop) and the town where you live. Keep it brief.

    IMBA 101 - Who we are and why mountain bicyclists matter!
    Some talking points to chose from:

    We are the International Mountain Bicycling Association, IMBA. We're the national voice of mountain biking.

    We build trails and keep trails open for mountain bicyclists or off-road bicycling.
    Mountain bicycling is a very popular sport - on most trail systems we are the #1 or #2 user group (behind hiking).

    Last year, 43.1 million people participated in the sport and 7 million consider themselves avid enthusiasts (according to the Outdoor Industry Association 2003 Participation Study).

    We have 80,000 people in our grassroots network between individual members and our 550 affiliated bike clubs.

    We have chapters in 50 states and about a dozen other countries.

    Annually our members contribute close to 1 million hours of public service.

    Most often, it is our clubs who are out building and repairing community trails.

    We work on shared-use trails - trails for hikers, bicyclists and equestrians.

    Customize your introduction - Give them an idea of where mountain bicycling is popular in your state and/or congressional district (member numbers, tourism revenue, bike shops, bike clubs, etc.).

    Given that 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese, now is the time to encourage cycling and build trails for recreation.

    Many of our clubs also run youth programs to encourage kids to get on bikes (15 percent of children are overweight or obese).

    Obesity costs our nation $117 billion annually in medical costs and loss of productivity.

    What to Say: Know What Bicycling Brings to Your Community and State

    Elected officials and their staff want to know why IMBA and mountain bicyclists are an important constituency. One of the first questions you may get asked (or should be ready to offer) is how many IMBA members/mountain bikers are in their district? Other useful information to know is: How many bike shops and bike clubs are there in your area, and what is the economic impact of bicycling in your region? Are their tourism hot spots where cyclists bring more money to the area for races or festivals? Is there the potential for this to happen? How many hours of volunteer public service does your club contribute every year?

    Homework:
    Before you schedule a meeting, do a little research to learn (as best you can) these numbers:

    What does cycling bring to your state? (Some state departments of transportation have done studies to determine the total amount of revenue road and off-road cycling brings to the state's economy. For example, in Colorado, CDOT reports that cycling brings $1 billion of economic activity to the state annually the sum value of all jobs, shops, and tourism revenues)
    Number of mountain bicyclists in elected officials district (city, county, region, state)
    IMBA members/ clubs/ shops in your state (club/shop names at imba.com)
    IMBA members in congressional district (contact gary@imba.com for exact number)
    IMBA members conduct one million hours of volunteer work annually. Try to estimate your best guess of the number of hours your state clubs conduct.
    The "Asks" - What Will You Talk About? What Will You Ask For?
    When you meet with elected officials or their staff, you should be prepared to ask for their help on two or three specific issues. The goal is to keep your message simple, easy to understand and not confuse staffers by asking for too many things. Pick two to three "asks" between federal, state and local recreation, resource and access issues.

    IMBA 2004 "Asks" to Congress
    IMBA Asks Congress to Boost Recreational Trails
    -- Increase Funding to $503 million (over 6 years)

    IMBA's Federal Land Agency Partners: Who They Are, What they Need, and How Congress Can Help
    -- Lobbying for the Budgets of USACE, BLM, USFS, NPS's Rivers & Trails

    IMBA and Wilderness: Sharing Our Perspective with Congress
    -- Help Resolve Conflicts Between Wilderness Proposals and Mountain Biking

    What to Bring
    Less is more. Elected officials and their staff are overwhelmed with handouts and reading material, and half of what they receive is immediately discarded. Resist the urge to bring them too much information (they probably won't read it). A copy of your club's most recent newsletter or a one-page handout that summarizes state issues is appropriate. Also, if you have a specific local schwag item (like a T-shirt, socks, or a hat) it is nice (but not necessary) to bring an item along.

    What to Wear
    Congressional staffers dress professionally. Most wear suits or dress slacks and ties. We suggest you wear similar clothing but certainly don't rush out and buy a suit if you don't have one. Dress pants, dress shoes, a button down shirt and a tie will work just fine. Women will want dress pants or a skirt. Iron your shirt, polish your shoes - first impressions make a difference.

    Follow Up (Short and Long Term)
    After the meetings are over, you will want to write a hand-written thank you note and/or an email to the staffer thanking them for taking time to listen to our issues. It is a small gesture that means a lot and is expected. Further, it gives you an opportunity to remind them of your issues and what you are working on as a group.

    Short-term follow-up:

    Write a thank you note.
    Subscribe the staffer or elected official to your club newsletter.
    Make sure you provide additional information they asked for in the meeting.
    Long-term follow-up:

    Invite the local field staffs to a group social ride (create a fun, non-intimidating event that will introduce staffers to mountain biking).
    Invite the local field staff to a trailwork day.
    For your largest trailwork day of the year (National Public Lands Day, National Trails Day, etc.) invite the elected official (and the media) to help do some trailwork. Ask them to address the group.
    If the Subaru/IMBA Trail Care Crew is in town, make sure to invite the elected official and their staff.
    Offer to include an article from the member's press office in one of your newsletters and suggest a topic or offer to ghost write it.

  11. #11
    Builder of Trails
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  12. #12
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    Sounds like you have the networking down. One thing our city was concerned with was cost. Our project has been done with club funds, donations from businesses, and volunteer hours. So far the city has nothing invested and gains a nicer park for all people to enjoy. We only asked them to build a kiosk with a map and they said it wasn't in the budget. At least we got the trails.

  13. #13
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    i have search imba several times and did not even pay attention to some of the drop down menus...thanks dburatti...i have several clubs interested in following the lead and friends working for the city...this thing has to be done right the first - from start to finish - included trail design and the importance of environmentally friendly, little cost to the city...myself and a couple other cyclists are meeting this weekend to work abit...
    Bikes + Wedding = Less Bikes

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