The View from Here: Portland Bicycling Club

Our club is transitioning to its new moniker. It’s a little challenging, isn’t it? But it’s coming along, and I’ve heard that non-members are embracing our change and at least saying they will now join us.

New public relations display items are being implemented, such as a new logo (which members selected at the June club meeting) and banners. That will help. Portland Bicycling Club (PBC) will be at some of the Sunday Parkways this summer, and the new name will start registering with our community.

Over the years, I have considered the Meetup groups and tried to compare and contrast them with our club. With the development of the internet providing easy contact between members, these Meetup groups have sprung up to support just about every interest: climbing, parenting, coding, and bicycling to list a very few. According to the Meetup website, “Meetup exists to help people grow into the people they want to be and live happy and fulfilling lives by finding the communities that will help them thrive.”

Our PBC mission statement says, “The aim of this organization shall be to promote the general interests of cycling in all its phases; to encourage and facilitate touring, rides, cycle outings and all forms of recreational cycling activities; to defend and protect the rights of cyclists; to secure a better understanding and recognition of the need for safer riding conditions; to encourage the allocation of facilities for cycling on public lands; to cooperate with the public authorities in the observance of all traffic regulations; and to promote the regulation and recognition of the bicycle as a vehicle used for pleasure, health and transportation.”

We are indeed similar in our objectives to Meetup. However, our club developed a more comprehensive purpose and some proactive measures to ensure the success of our endeavors. I see that as a significant distinction.

Meetups seem to have gained large followings year after year at least in some of their groups. As a longtime member of PWTC now PBC, I wondered why . . . here we are, a local bicycle club with a solid track record and lots to offer; and yet an individual organizes a bike-related Meetup group and draws lots of participants. My opinion has been that we, the bike club, are the better option! Yet I see Northwest Butts on Bikes has 2,653 “BOBers,” CycleManiacs has 813 members, Go the Distance has 2,376 members. Why? Why aren’t more of those cyclists PBC members? (I know a few of you belong to Meetup groups and also belong to our club.)

What my limited research suggests is that Meetup groups provide the promotion of general interests, such as cycling – as they say. But that is the extent of it.

Our club, YOUR club, goes farther. I see us being involved in the community. While not directly advocating for safety, such as lobbying, we do promote safe riding. We support like-minded groups financially who further our objectives (e.g., Northwest Bicycle Safety Council, Friends of the Historic Columbia Gorge, Street Trust formerly Bicycle Transportation Alliance, Trauma Nurses Talk Tough, and Community Cycling Center).

We are a club. We elect a board, we have many appointees in various positions, and we vote together to function in unity. My understanding is that Meetups are organized by an individual who, perhaps with some co-organizers, takes on the task of keeping the group in motion. I don’t know how PBC could offer at least one bike ride a day, every day, operating in the form of a Meetup. It seems to me that, with all we do, we need all our members to take on some responsibilities and not have two separate groupings: the organizers and the riders, as Meetups do.

Once again, I appreciate our bike club and its founders who, back in 1971, laid out a means for us to function clear into the 21st century! Meetups are seemingly serving a broad spectrum of people, but I’m glad we are an actual club and function democratically rather than relying on one individual or select people to dictate.

Regardless of what we call ourselves, we are united in our interest of cycling and the body of members we call friends.

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1. Definition of club: “an organization dedicated to a particular interest or activity” (for us, bicycling).

 

Ann Morrow, Recording Secretary