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BTA will ask members to ratify name change at annual meeting

Posted by on July 12th, 2016 at 9:00 am

BTA Annual meeting-2

BTA head Rob Sadowsky at the member’s meeting in 2012.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland-based biking advocacy group that is transitioning into a biking-walking-transit advocacy group plans to unveil its proposed new name on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

It’ll happen at the organization’s annual members meeting, which will be 5:30 to 7:30 at Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Avenue.

Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Monday that the organization’s board and staff will then ask members present for an up-or-down vote on the name proposal.

Because the BTA is a member-led nonprofit under Oregon law and section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code, the vote will be binding. State law requires two-thirds of members present to vote “yes.”

Sadowsky said he’s pretty confident that the new name will be approved.

“Those that show up create a quorum,” Sadowsky said. “If we can’t get 2/3 of people there excited about it, then what are we doing?”

The up-or-down vote will be binding. Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice.”

Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice,” both of which are available as corporate names in the state of Oregon. He said an intellectual property lawyer is currently working pro bono to make sure the names aren’t under trademark somewhere else.

Why not announce the name ahead of time, or conduct a mail-in vote? Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.

“The No. 1 name right now would cost us $2,000 to buy,” he said.

He also said the BTA “may have a new logo for the annual meeting, if it is done in time.” If not, he said, the new logo will be unveiled at the BTA’s Alice Awards fundraiser Sept. 24.

Also at the members’ meeting, the BTA will recognize people for its annual volunteer awards:

• Rookie Volunteer of the Year
• Under the Radar
• Advocacy Volunteer of the Year
• Scott Lieuallen Award
• Volunteer of the Year


The BTA has some recent experience with brand transitions. Since 2014, it’s been using the name “Healthy Streets” and the URL ourhealthystreets.org to refer to “multimodal work that engage[s] partners in deep collaboration,” as Sadowsky put it in a February email. For example, the BTA’s Vision Zero traffic safety advocacy, the Active Transportation Summit event and the For Every Kid Coalition that has pushed for regional Safe Routes to School funding were all done under that sub-brand.

Once the name is changed, the BTA will also be wrapping more direct political work into its mission by forming a 501(c)4 organization, which is allowed to spend more money on political lobbying, and maybe subsequently a political action committee that could directly endorse candidates and raise money for them.

The BTA also plans to reorganize into a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 arm focused on political advocacy.

Sadowsky said there’s a possibility of merging with another existing PAC, but that he couldn’t legally discuss details because he’s employed by a c(3). That’s a good example of why the BTA wants to create a c(4), he said.

Terry Dublinski-Milton, a volunteer for Portland’s existing Bike Walk Vote PAC, wrote in an email “there is an ongoing conversation” about merging with the new BTA.

“No decision has been made at this time,” Dublinski-Milton said.

There are various other complications to having both a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 focused on political advocacy. For example, the BTA will need to recruit a separate board for each with no more than three shared members.

For the BTA’s existing (c)3, it isn’t currently planning to change its member-led structure that requires members to vote on board members, name changes and so forth.

Tomorrow, he said, BTA staff are traveling to Seattle to meet with the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, two organizations that merged in December. Today, Cascade Bicycle Club is the name of the group’s (c)3, with Washington Bikes as the name of the group’s (c)4.

Sadowsky added that they’ll also meet with Rob Johnson, the former executive director of the Seattle-based multimodal Transportation Choices Coalition 501(c)3 organization. Johnson was elected to city council last year.

— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – michael@bikeportland.org

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28 Comments
  • Random July 12, 2016 at 9:21 am

    They’re going to rename the organization “Oregon Walks and Bikes”.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

    • B. Carfree July 12, 2016 at 6:47 pm

      I wish it were true that Oregon walks and bikes. Perhaps they can help make it so. 🙂

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • David Hampsten July 12, 2016 at 10:21 am

    BikeWalkOregon. Here in NC, there is a statewide lobbying group called BikeWalkNC.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Hello, Kitty
    Hello, Kitty July 12, 2016 at 10:25 am

    I’m not renewing my membership until I see how the new organization shakes out. If they can be a strong voice for cycling (something I’m not sure they’ve been for at least a decade), I’ll be back. If not, I wish them luck with their new mission.

    Recommended Thumb up 21

    • rick July 12, 2016 at 12:37 pm

      Did they not help secure the safe routes funding?

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • Hello, Kitty
        Hello, Kitty July 12, 2016 at 1:27 pm

        Yes, and that is (or was?) a valuable program; however, I also want to see an organization that’s willing to to sue the city or ODOT, for example, when that becomes necessary. BikeLoud doesn’t have the capacity to do that, and BTA doesn’t seem willing to. I want an organization that’s both feisty and has capacity.

        Recommended Thumb up 12

      • Ted Timmons (Contributor) July 12, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        I’m with you on BTA. I think my dollars will do more good elsewhere.

        Recommended Thumb up 5

  • Jordan Norris July 12, 2016 at 10:36 am

    I worried about this focus on transit. It seems to me that bikes and transit can be at odds at times and transit should have it’s own organization and lobby arm. I do think the 501c4 is a good idea. I just want to maintain a focus on bikes and walking.

    Recommended Thumb up 7

    • B. Carfree July 12, 2016 at 6:49 pm

      Yes, remember the Monday Round-up piece a couple weeks ago that noted that cycling was up dramatically during the DC transit slow down? I’ve seen this before: cycling competes directly with transit for those people who are willing to move about without car dependence.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

      • lop July 12, 2016 at 7:26 pm

        What happens if the DC transit slow down is permanent instead of temporary? Do those people keep biking or do they get cars? When weather gets real bad cycling counts go down. Do some of those fair weather cyclists take transit? If their choice is between transit and driving because they refuse to bike in a dark and rainy winter, and you take away the transit option, will more of them buy cars and use them in the summer? Where’s the line between competing and complementing?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

  • GlowBoy July 12, 2016 at 11:50 am

    Yes there are examples where bikes and transit can be at odds (at the micro level, when buses and bikes play leapfrog, or where rail lines are laid without thinking of bikes’ paths across them), but in the bigger picture there’s a lot of overlap between their interests. Specifically, fighting the extreme dominance of the automobile in its multitude of forms, and helping people get out of their cars.

    It saddens me that some BP readers see transit and bikes as mutually exclusive. As a regular user of both modes, I don’t see it that way. Maybe the natural complement between bikeshare and transit will help more people see that after BikeTown’s been running for a year or two.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • Jordan Norris July 12, 2016 at 2:23 pm

      They can be odds at the micro level and the macro level too. What happens when there is a zero-sum funding fight between transit and bikes? It seems like bike will lose out.

      Recommended Thumb up 6

  • johnr July 12, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Sadowsky must go.

    Recommended Thumb up 13

  • JeffS July 12, 2016 at 11:52 am

    “Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.”

    Surely you would claim all potential URLs and social media handles long before you narrowed them to two choices.

    If not, they should have.

    Recommended Thumb up 14

  • GlowBoy July 12, 2016 at 11:58 am

    I should also add that including walking but not transit seems even weirder to me. Because the days that I do the most walking are also days that I’m using transit. You can’t really be a transit rider and NOT have a serious vested interest in pedestrian issues.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

    • rick July 12, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Their new interest is walking, biking, and public transit.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

      • JeffS July 12, 2016 at 2:29 pm

        Their new interested is increasing their revenues.

        Recommended Thumb up 10

      • rick July 12, 2016 at 3:08 pm

        Who else is pushing Metro to make a troley trail for LO besides the BTA and SW Trails?

        Recommended Thumb up 0

      • TheRealisticOne July 15, 2016 at 12:03 pm

        Rick, there’s many issues surrounding that rail line, the city is doing a study, started by councilor Gudman. The city’s attorney was looking at any legal or jurisdictional issues. It doesn’t sound like it will “legally” qualify for a “rails to trails”. But, make no mistake here, the BTA doesn’t have the power or the voice to deal with this one, it is WAY above their pay grade and capability. If interested, stay tuned with council proceedings or come to our Transportation Advisory Board meetings and voice your interest, it’s probably the best way to stay in tune.

        Recommended Thumb up 0

    • Beth H July 13, 2016 at 8:13 am

      True. But you also need to be able to live close enough to where you work and play for walking more than a couple blocks to make any sense. Let’s tie multi-modal use to economic realities please, especially in outer-east Portland.

      Recommended Thumb up 0

  • rick July 12, 2016 at 12:35 pm

    I sure hope they push Washington County to make complete streets.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • Adam H.
    Adam H. July 12, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    Here’s a preview of what The New BTA will be like.

    Recommended Thumb up 3

  • Brian July 12, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    If they start to see off-road cycling trails as part of active transportation network as well, I’m in. And I’m sure many others would follow me.

    Recommended Thumb up 6

  • Phil Richman July 12, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    Better Transportation Alternatives?

    Recommended Thumb up 5

  • K'Tesh July 12, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Human Transportation Alliance

    Recommended Thumb up 2

  • Peter W July 15, 2016 at 12:50 am

    > Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.

    > “The No. 1 name right now would cost us $2,000 to buy,” he said.

    Yes! I’m finally going to make good on that investment in the activetransit.ninja domain.

    Recommended Thumb up 0

  • TheRealisticOne July 15, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    Change their name from”Better Trust Another” to get results, or to a name that will have relevance? Sorry, just not a factor any longer

    Recommended Thumb up 3