BikePortland

New bike advocacy group for Clark County nears non-profit status


Clark County Cycling Coalition
founder Eric Giacchino.
(Photo: Marcus Griffith)

The greater Portland metropolitan area is one step closer to having another regional non-profit bike education and advocacy organization.

The necessary paperwork to receive official non-profit status for the Clark County Cycling Coalition (C-4), southwest Washington’s newest bike organization, is complete and ready to be mailed, according to C-4 president Eric Giacchino.

Giacchino, a Vancouver fire fighter and Air Force veteran (profiled in The Oregonian earlier this year), explained that he has “tremendous” respect for the efforts of local volunteer bike projects (there’s a few), but he wants the Clark County area to have its own “umbrella” organization that promotes “polite, safe, cycling.”

Young riders go through a bike
course graduation.
(Photo: Eric Giacchino)

Designed as “a hybrid of the [Bicycle Transportation Alliance] and Community Cycling Center,” C-4 will use the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan as “its guiding bible” in its efforts to improve cycling conditions in the local area, says Giacchino.

Vancouver and the rest of Clark County, falls in the advocacy gap between Portland-based Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) and Seattle based Bicycle Alliance of Washington (BAW). Both the BTA and BAW welcome C-4 to the advocacy table.

Stating “the BTA wants to see more local advocates organizing in their communities,” BTA Communication Director Margaux Mennesson cited the importance of local organizations.

“The only true way to teach kids to be safe [when biking] on the road is to practice on the road,”
— Eric Giacchino

“Local groups are in powerful positions to address on-the-ground issues specific to that community…With a network of organizations working together effectively toward strategic goals, we can build a stronger, broader movement,” she shared via email.

The BAW is also pleased to have a potential advocacy partner in Vancouver.

“We’re delighted to have a non-profit to turn to and work together with in SW Washington. Although we’re a statewide organization, it’s difficult to effectively cover all the issues so we always seek the guidance of local advocates,” BAW Executive Director Barbara Culp stated via email.

The benefits of being a non-profit include “increased public credibility” and the “ability to solicit corporate donations,” according to Giacchino. The organization is staying busy as it completes the non-profit application process.

Recently, Giacchino completed a two week bike safety course at WyEast and McLoughlin Middle Schools in Vancouver for more than 300 kids. The course, conducted in conjunction with P.E. classes, included practice off and on public roads as a focus on real world scenarios, according to Giacchino.

“The only true way to teach kids to be safe [when biking] on the road is to practice on the road,” Giacchino said. C-4’s program incorporates education on the Rules of the Road, which also serves as a “first exposure to drivers ed,” according to Giacchino.

To celebrate the “graduation” from the two week program, Giacchino led approximately 30 students on an all-day, 25 mile bike “field trip” that included stops at the Vancouver water front and Vancouver Lake.

The ride is “intended to be a fun field trip… and a demonstration that bicycling is indeed a viable form of transportation.” said Giacchino. It also “proves to the kids they are capable of those kinds of distances.”

According to Giacchino, 15 fire fighters from the local fire fighter union volunteered their time to do the necessary inspections and maintenance on C-4’s 90 bike fleet in preparation for the school program. Additionally, the Vancouver Bike Club made a “generous donation” so that each “graduating” student could have a helmet.

To contact C-4, visit them on Facebook or email Giacchino at: giacchino1831 [at] comcast [dot] net.

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