NEWSLETTER ARTICLE: The future of bicycle advocacy in Missouri

by brent hugh

[This is an article The Hub, MoBikeFed's newsletter. Articles from The Hub are posted on the website on a delayed basis. To receive articles on time and directly to your mailbox, please join MoBikeFed.]

Recently I’ve been thinking over the Missouri Bicycle Federation accomplishments in the past ten years. It is really nothing short of amazing what MBF, as a small, volunteer organization on a shoestring budget, has accomplished.

Nevertheless, it is clear to me that the time has come to take it to the next level. States that are otherwise similar to Missouri are routinely building bicycle friendly streets and roads. They have adopted bicycle and pedestrian friendly policies, procedures, and laws. It is no coincidence that these states have large, powerful bicycle advocacy organizations.

MBF has plenty of room to grow. There are an estimated 1.6 million cyclists in Missouri. Right now, not even 0.1% of those are MBF members. We need to change that. Here is the vision MBF board members have for the future of the MBF:
  • Individual memberships – Recent membership drives have approximately tripled MBF membership. I envision 1000 individual MBF members within two years and 3000 mem-bers in 5-7 years. Thi s would put our membership on par with simi lar organizations in peer states like Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. Organizational memberships – Less than 25% of Missouri bicycle clubs are MBF member organizations. I would like to see every bicycle club and organization in Miss ouri become a member.

  • Executive Director – Peer organizations in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan all have at least one full-time paid staff position, and it shows. We plan to move in this direction by paying me (MBF chair, Brent Hugh) to spend one day a week in Jefferson City this year during the legislative session, lobbying for MBF’s legisl ative agenda. Cost will be $5000-$7000 but it is vitally necessary to pass bills in the Missouri General Assembly. A big reason our legislative agendas have failed the past two years is because we did not have a person on the spot, taking the pulse of the legislature to help things move along.*

  • Missouri Ride Calendar – We will create a calendar listing all rides in Missouri and distribute approximately 15- 20,000 throughout the state. MBF members will receive the calendar at least a month before it is available to the general public. The calendar will help fund bicycle advocacy in Missouri. Selected rides will choose to be “Advocacy Funding Rides” by donating $1 per rider towards MBF’s advocacy efforts.

  • Merchant Discount Program – Within the next few months we will roll out MBF’s new merchant discount program. With their membership cards MBF members can receive discounts of 5%, 10%, or more from selected MO bike shops and from selected businesses along the Katy Trail.
Please spread the word to your friends and cycling partners. This is an exciting time to be involved with bicycling in Missouri, and we feel that real, fundamental change is possible in the reasonably near future. But we need people like you to step up to the plate and take a stand.

We need the membership of every bicyclist in the state, to help move bicycling forward in Missouri.

*Update: Since this article was published the opportunity was presented to MoBikeFed to hire James Farrell, a professional legislative lobbyist also representing St. Louis's Great Rivers Greenway. The total cost was about the same as paying an MBF officer to do the job, so we have chosen to hire Mr. Farrell instead. The thrust of our effort remains the same, however--we need to reach the point where we can afford to pay professionals to do certain work for us that simply cannot be done on volunteer power alone.