As prescribed by the Bike BloNo bylaws, its president is to “prepare and deliver an annual report of past organization activities at the annual membership meeting.” What follows is the organization’s annual report for 2014 as prepared by Bike BloNo President Mike McCurdy.
2014 may turn out to be the one of the most important years for bicycling in Bloomington-Normal history. It’s easy to mark this past year as one of the most significant based on the substantial accomplishments of Bike BloNo for the community and action taken by its board solidifying itself as a well-respected community organization. However, the successes of 2014 mean 2015 will be challenging year to meet or exceed the level of accomplishment of last year.
A Real Organization
Bike BloNo formed in April of 2012 as a group of like-minded individuals and the group became an official organization a year ago as a State of Illinois Not-For-Profit corporation. Its membership elected a seven member board, and adopted bylaws. The organization opened a bank account and post office box in 2014, allowing the organization to conduct business. Formalizing its status as a “real” organization and working toward financial stability may seem trivial in comparison to the community’s first bike lanes, or development of a Bloomington Bike Master Plan, but our board members and membership hear over and over again that such progress “wouldn’t be possible without Bike BloNo.”
I believe those comments. I also believe there is much work to be done and I believe ensuring this organization has a future is one of the board’s most important duties. Our more formal structure, our bylaws to guide us, our business practices, and our ability to raise funds (and even distribute financial support to like-minded organizations) are all important first steps in ensuring Bike BloNo will be an active advocacy organization in the years and decades to come.
T-Shirts – Bike BloNo is now selling its 3rd generation shirt. Our shirts have proven to be a fairly steady source of income for the organization and the first batch of shirts (helping to fund the second generation and so on) wouldn’t have been possible without a grant from the Jaycees for having volunteered at the 2013 Bruegala. The shirts have been available at the community’s three local bike shops. The first batch was sold to the bike shop, with all proceeds benefiting Bike BloNo. As a giveback, Bike BloNo provided the bike shops with a $4.00 per shirt cut on the next order of shirts. A new design, new sweat wicking material, and/or longs sleeve shirts may all be need to maintain the current level consumer interest, sales, and income.
Tour de Taco – This event worked on so many levels: Motorist awareness of cyclists, a fun social event for cyclists, emphasizing bikes mean business for the restaurants and food trucks, bringing in members to work with the board on the task force to accomplish this event, and even media publicity. However, if we didn’t see a fundraising potential in the end, the event probably would not have occurred. In the end, Bike BloNo spent $1,483.92 and took in $3,825.83, so the total profit for this event was $2,341.91. We’ve already estimated, after extrapolating from survey results, that our participants spent around $4,300 at small businesses along the route that day. Plus the participants are still wearing their shirts, promoting the event and our organization. Well done to everyone involved!
Bike Movie Night – With the help of the historic Normal Theater and the Town of Normal and with promotional help from WGLT’s Good To Go, Bike BloNo successfully executed the third annual Bike Movie Night. In 2014, the board agreed that some of the profit from this event would support the West Bloomington Walk In Bike Out program and we were able to provide a check that night to this program for $418. We expect the 2015 movie to be a smash. Save the date now: February 21st at 1 PM for one of the most fun bike movies of all time.
The Bloomington Criterium – Bike BloNo is pleased to have been a sponsor in both years of the reminted Bloomington Criterium, providing cash support, volunteers, and significant social media support. In 2014, Bike BloNo received $1,000. We envision continuing to support this Downtown Bloomington event.
Year End Statement
Because of events like Tour de Taco (along with other aforementioned events and our t-shirt sales) we ended with more in our bank account than we than we started 2014. Bike BloNo started the year with $2,968.44 and ended with $5,370.20. Most of our profit in 2014 came from Tour de Taco, which netted $2,341.91. We received a total of $1,048.62 in general donations, $1,000.00 of which came from the Bloomington Criterium; the rest was from individuals. The Bike Movie Night in February generated a profit of $642.68. After printing a new set of T-shirts toward the end of the year, our profit in that category was only $392.12, but our year-end inventory was worth between $2,000 and $2,420. Major expenses in 2014 included providing a bike for the McLean County Wheelers’ Bikes Change Lives program ($503.69), sending a board member to the National Bike Summit ($399.00), and preparing to launch a website ($214.80). The full 2014 balance sheet is available from the Treasurer upon request.
In 2015, we expect our biggest expense to be a large-scale safety awareness campaign. Other than that, we expect our expenditures this year to look roughly the same as last year. Membership fees notwithstanding, we expect our revenues to be similar this year, as well.
Events – In addition to the fundraising events described above, Bike BloNo helped organize or participate in a number of other successful bike or bike related events.
- People for Bikes welcome reception
- National Bike Challenge
- Bike Rodeo
- Tour de Taco
- 25th Anniversary of the Constitution Trail
- Ride of Silence
- St. Patrick’s Day Parade
While our events raise money, help educate, or serve as a fun social happening, Bike BloNo exists to “promote the bicycle for everyday transportation” and that means advocacy. Our events and event participation fund these efforts. It’s why this group began. It remains its raison d’être.
Bike BloNo efforts are directly responsible for the community’s first bike lanes, Bloomington’s first soon to be complete Bicycle Master Plan, and renewed commitment to Normal 2009 Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan which includes the near completion of the so-called Southern Normal Corridor. It’s been an unprecedented year for bicycling in Bloomington-Normal. It also sets expectations high for Bike BloNo and what can be accomplished in 2015.
The Bloomington Bicycle Master Plan – We expect this plan, currently in its final stages of development, to appear on the Bloomington Planning Commission agenda and the Bloomington City Council agenda in the first quarter of 2015. Expect a request to attend these meetings as the Bike BloNo board meets one on one with Bloomington Aldermen in our strategy to educate about the plan. We’re seeking another unanimous vote, just like the one that entered into the agreement to create the plan. Shortly after that, expect Bike BloNo board to work with Bloomington city staff to target streets for the first implementation of a project listed in the plan.
The Town of Normal Bicycle Pedestrian Master Plan – As the Southern Corridor nears completion, the process has already started to advocate on behalf of the next project Bike BloNo has settled upon for the Town. Construction should soon begin on the Route 66 trial stretching Northeast from the intersection of Towanda and Shelbourne. The Town’s plan calls for a road diet, reducing Shelbourne from 4 lanes to two lanes with a center turn lane and east-west bike lanes. We see this street as critical for getting people to this new section of trail and providing a clear on-street bikeway for those coming off the trail. Other projects include bike lanes on Parkside between Raab and Hovey, improvements to Gregory, and pedestrian activated hawk lights at the Vernon crossings of the Constitution Trail (paid for by the Friends of the Constitution Trail).
Awareness Campaign – In March of 2014, we kicked off a grass-roots effort to create a comprehensive bike awareness campaign for Bloomington-Normal. Answering the call of our city staff and council, this campaign will seek to a) humanize bike-riders and b) encourage car-drivers and bike riders alike to share the road, obey traffic laws, and be courteous to one another. Over the last 9 months, a creative team utilizing design, writing and marketing talents within the community brainstormed numerous ideas, focused those ideas into actionable strategies and tactics, and planned toward the successful launch of the campaign for the Spring 2015 biking season.
We now live in a community where, in 2014, one of the municipalities was designated as a Bronze level Bicycle Friendly Community, where one of our major universities, Illinois Wesleyan University, is now a Bicycle Friendly University at the Bronze level, and where Bloomington Bike and Fitness was recognized as Gold Level Bicycle Friendly business – all by the League of American Bicyclists.
2015 begins with a new board make up, a membership structure providing additional regular revenue to the organization, and a very long to-do list. I’m confident our efforts will continue to move the needle in the right direction and we’ll see Bloomington-Normal become even more bike friendly.