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/municipal councillors, recreational trail committees,  as well as provincial and federal elected officials.

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 Makers

Your club should appoint official liaisons for parks and trail systems in the area. These delegates help land managers schedule trail work 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.

7. 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 or website.

8. 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.

9. Use Your Voice for the Greater Good

Now 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 local policy makers.

10. Follow-Up

Write 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.