“To support, promote, and actively participate in bicycle-powered commerce for a healthier world.”
— Mission statement of the Bicycle Business League
Back in May, we reported from the first meeting of a group of local bike-based business owners who came together to discuss the formation of a new organization. The idea was to join forces so they could more effectively advocate for their interests and help ensure their business success.
In just a few months, this group has moved from energetic ideas to a formal structure and a new name, the Bicycle Business League. On Friday, Nov. 18, its members approved by-laws and elected a five-person board to help achieve ambitious goals.
According to Evan Ross, newly elected Chair and owner of Portland Bicycle Tours, the Bicycle Business League is focused on four primary functions: marketing support, networking or resource sharing, group purchasing and advocacy. And, while all of these functions are important, he summed up the method and approach to achieving them as just as important. “If you want change in your community, you have to work together as a team,” he said.
It was that sense of team work, camaraderie and mutual support that was voiced and evident as the group worked through the often dry procedures of reviewing and approving by-laws and electing a board. But, their energy was directed at completing the formalities, which will include registration as a 501(c)(6) corporation, so they can move on to the work that excites them.
“We’re striking a balance between advocacy and business development for our members,” Ross explained. “For members to succeed, they will need us doing both.”
And, just what does the group have in mind for member services? Plenty, according to Ross and the board that includes Vice-Chair Christina Redl of Green Clean; Treasurer Jed Lazar, SoupCycle; Secretary Shawn Small of Ruckus Components and Ryan Hashagen, Portland Pedicabs.
On the business services side of the ledger, group insurance purchase is a top priority. All businesses need insurance and some, like those who transport people, require good liability coverage. Health insurance is another significant expense, if affordable at all, for small businesses and this is an area that Ross says they want to explore.
The group also wants to explore ways in which members can cooperate in marketing, advertising and promotion. As Ross explained, pooling resources to promote local bike-based business helps all members, yet each member would have a relatively low cost. This sort of collective approach is emblematic of how Ross sees the group working together for the benefit off all members.
“It’s about knowing your neighbor and helping them,” he said. “For example, I might get a call from another member who needs to rent a few bikes for an event or a promotion. I can do that. I might call on that same member in the future if I needed help with bicycle repairs.”
When it comes to advocacy, the board spent time on Friday circulating a list of area businesses that they will contact to ask for support of the Portland Bicycle Plan for 2030. Each member put their name beside a business that they intended to contact. There were no by-standers in the group.
On a smaller scale, but one that could have significant results for members, Hashagen described how they would be sending a letter of thanks and commendation to the Portland Police Bureau for their efforts to control crowds and drivers in the entertainment district. He noted that keeping intoxicated drivers off the streets, and creating opportunities for pedicabs, was a significant boost for members and others riding bicycles downtown.
And, just who are the members and how are they defined? That’s still an open question. The newly elected board decided to table that discussion for another time, not due to a lack of interest, but because they want to get it right and make participation as broad and comprehensive as possible.
For more information, check out BicycleBusinessLeague.com.