“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.
We are very excited to have formed the Bicycle Business League. We look forward to advocating for businesses that encourage active transportation on behalf of their business model, commuters, or customers.
Our next meeting will take place at Alta Planning on Dec 4th at 9am.
Feel free to contact us at bicyclebusinessleague.com for any additional information.
This model for cycle advocacy may be the best for the near to medium term future. Having matured, from a completely fringe X-treme activity, to a vocal minority that is at least listened to before it is ignored it is perhaps time for cycle advocacy to divide and conquer.
By attempting to be everything to every cyclist in Oregon the BTA is unable to live up to the disparate goals. Worse still, no matter how large BTA gets, nor how much funding, it still is only ONE voice amongst hundreds of representatives and lobbyists in Salem.
A greater number of diverse voices, which all individually advocate for bicycles, will be harder to ignore. An advocacy group that keeps its mission specific, and avoids cumulative goal bloat, will be much more effective in achieving its goals and much more nimble in the face of change.
I believe the important angle here is that this is a grass roots attempt to provide benefits to members who use bicycles in their businesses. The BBL will succeed, I think, if they maintain the balance between business development interests and political and policy advocacy. One of the reasons this group has been formed is that as business owners, they found little to no support from traditional business-related organizations. That they see improved communities and better transportation alternatives as essential to their businesses growth is far sighted. It will be important to track how they answer the question of who can become a member and at what levels.
How about getting City leaders to pass a law requiring businesses with a drive-thru to serve bicyclists?
The idea has been floating around FOREVER, and we shouldn’t expect the BTA to make it a priority . . . so how about it? Costs the City nothing and a good (first) feather in your cap.
ethan #4 – i fail to see how that would be a priority for this group. theres far more important first steps – as the article mentions, pooling resources for group insurance, both health and liability, sounds as if it is indeed a major priority, as well it should be, rather than some attention-grabbing effort of no real tangible benefit to bicycle-based businesses.
So “Bicycle Business” means only those businesses that are bike-mobile?
Ruckus makes parts while riding? PBT perpetually tow around rental bikes on a trailer?
The new name certainly led me to think the agenda could be a bit bigger than just a bike-mobile business support group.
while my trackstanding skills are mediocre at best, I can’t do it while casting carbon, yet…
The BBL is open to all bicycle related businesses; retailers, manufacturers, bike-mobile ect ect ect
Membership details will announced in the near future.
Visit the Bicycle Business League to stay up to date on the latest news!
ethan – it certainly seems that theyre being inclusive of more than just businesses doing business *on* a bike – though i think theyre in the process of deciding where exactly the line (if any) will be drawn in terms of exactly what a “bike-based business” is.
health and liability insurance needs, however, are far from exclusive to those bike-based businesses doing their business from the seat of a bicycle.
We’ve got a great board, and they are working to create an organization that is highly inclusive.
6 degrees of separation is OK with me.
I’d like to say “thanks” to the BTA’s Michelle Poyourow for all of her help in getting us organized.
Congratulations to the newly elected BBL Board members! I have full confidence that Evan, Christina, Jed, Ryan, and Shawn will bring the energy and passion needed to grow a successful BBL for Oregon. GO BBL
Add Workers Compensation Insurance to the list of Liability and group Health Insurance as key business concerns for our membership. I have been amazed at how established insurance professionals scratch their heads when the word “bicycle” is inserted into the discussion surrounding the core operations of the business. In PPP’s case, we had a quote on Workers Comp Insurance rescinded only after we wrote a check to bind coverage on our policy. A simple business classification error on part of the agent caused the underwriter to “correct” and increase the policy premium by over 40%. Ouch! This is a key cost factor that could slow the rate of job creation in this important sector.
Are there any insurance pros out there who know their way around this landscape who can get us a reasonable WCI rate or who are willing to spend the time selecting and justifying the proper business classification code?