2015 Annual Report

Collage of bike blono event images from 2015

Events, people, and action in 2015

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 2015 as prepared by Bike BloNo President Mike McCurdy.

Preface

2015 is a year of accomplishment and stability for Bike BloNo. The organization continued to build its funds, created a membership structure, added to its membership base, successfully changed board and officer positions, and rallied membership to support the Bloomington Bicycle Master plan. The plan was approved 8-1 by aldermen.  This organization was also able to participate financially in some key community events aimed at safety and increasing ridership. 2016 will be a demanding year as municipal initiatives, community events, and Bike BloNo events and initiatives will require an increasing need for broader participation from members and volunteers.

The Organization

Bylaws were amended in 2015 to address some minor language issues and to create a more formal membership structure. Board members Kyle Karraker and Karen Bridges stepped down in 2014 and w were replaced by Stefanie Michaelis (Secretary) and Brandon Beehner (Board Member at-large). Other officers include new Vice-President Jacob DeGeal and Treasurer Michael Gorman. Our board members are sought after members of community organizations, including the Bloomington Planning Commission, the Connect Transit Board of Trustees, and committees related to the Bring It On Bloomington initiative creating the city’s 20-year comprehensive plan. Board members are also anticipating involvement in the Town of Normal’s project PlanIt Normal, to develop its comprehensive plan. Another board member is in the process of being appointed to the McLean County Regional Planning Commission.

In 2016, we’re working toward more involvement from members and volunteers by creating committees focused separately on advocacy, events, and outreach.

Fundraising

While Bike BloNo is far from driven by money, we recognize its importance to the stability of our organization and in what we can accomplish for others in our community.

Membership Dollars

In 2015, Bike BloNo moved to a paid membership structure. It proved to be a wise decision financially. Bike BloNo banked $4,645 in membership dollars in our first year of paid memberships. Incentives included t-shirts and a member discount on Tour de Taco registration. At the end of 2015, the board voted to streamline membership levels, eliminating the seldom-selected lowest giving level (at which a t-shirt was not offered).  

Tour de Taco

The only thing more important than establishing an event is proving you can repeat it and improve upon the first year. Mission accomplished. Tour de Taco 2015 was by any measure a success with more food trucks and destinations, 210 participants. This event puts a large number of cyclists on the street in groups of approximately 25, boosting bikes-on-street visibility. As in 2014, the 2015 edition worked on many levels: 1) motorist awareness of cyclists, 2) a fun social event for cyclists, 3) demonstrating that bikes mean business for the restaurants, food trucks, and city officials, 4) increasing our volunteer base, and 5) getting more media publicity. After expenses, Bike BloNo earned $3,195 on Tour de Taco. We estimate based on our survey results that our participants spent approximately $6,500 at the restaurants that day, a 66% increase over the $4,300 spent at the food trucks and restaurants in 2014.  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 4th 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 (WIBO) program. In 2015 we were once again able to support WIBO with a check presented that night in the amount of $244. We expect the 2016 movie to be successful, with the addition of alcohol service provided by the adjacent Marriott Hotel. Save the date now: February 17th at 7 PM for the documentary BIKES vs CARS, which premiered at SXSW in 2015 and won Best Feature at the San Francisco Green Film Festival (among other awards).  

Year End Statement

Bike BloNo began 2015 with $5,370 and ended with $14,581. While this is an impressive gain in a year for a volunteer organization, we anticipate the amount will be drawn down significantly as a safety-awareness media campaign is launched. This will make 2016 fundraising efforts even more important.  In addition to membership and event dollars, Bike BloNo’s participation as servers in Bruegala, the Jaycees’ beer and wine tasting event, boosted the account by $3,500.  Bike BloNo also earned $515 in t-shirt sales. Revenue from t-shirts is less than previous years because shirts are offered as a membership incentive.  It’s hoped a new 2016 t-shirt design will drive additional sales and memberships. The full 2015 balance sheet is available from the Treasurer upon request.

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.

  • First outdoor Downtown Bloomington Farmers’ Market of the season
  • National Bike Challenge
  • Bike Rodeo
  • Tour de Taco
  • Light the Night
  • Ride of Silence
  • St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Advocacy

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. To borrow a phrase from Star Trek, it is our “prime directive.”

Bike BloNo efforts are directly responsible for the community’s first bike lanes, and subsequent lanes and infrastructure, the adoption of the Bloomington Bicycle Master Plan in May of 2015, and efforts underway in early 2016 to update the 2009 Town of Normal Bike Plan.

Bloomington Bicycle Master Plan

In the fall of 2015, Bike BloNo members gathered to review and prioritize this plan. In 2016, there are meetings planned with at least one neighborhood association, city staff, and elected officials to discuss priority projects in the plan.  The City has not yet worked toward implementing any portion of the plan since it was adopted in May of 2015.

Town of Normal Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan

We remain very encouraged by Normal’s proactive opportunistic approach in painting bike lanes on streets which are resurfaced, such as Blair Drive from College Ave. to Fort Jesse Rd. Bike BloNo and other advocacy groups are at the table as the Town updates its 2009 Bicycle-Pedestrian Master Plan and we encourage the Town to push the envelope and further its national reputation in sustainability practices by going “all in” on bike infrastructure.

One of Bike BloNo’s 2015 priorities, an on-street route on Shelbourne from Towanda to Summit, has been shelved by the Town in favor a route that capitalizes on a the former Route 66 corridor through the Town. The Shelbourne corridor remains in the plan and in our opinion should continue to be considered as a more direct and expedient bike route option connecting with the Route 66 trail (completed from Towanda Ave. in Normal to the city of Towanda) to the heart of normal, the Constitution Trail, and once on Summit to Main St.  Bike BloNo will continue to advocate for other projects, including safer crossings of Veterans Parkway, bike lanes on Parkside between Raab and Hovey, improvements to Gregory, and Trail-street intersections on Vernon, Willow, Shelborne, and Raab.

Awareness Campaign

This effort stalled in 2015 as other projects received priority. There is a renewed interest from the board in a media campaign and we have money to help fund it. Funds are also anticipated from both municipalities and the Friends of the Constitution Trail. This campaign is, in part, an answer to municipal staff and councils concerned about safety as they implement infrastructure leading to increased cycling. This campaign will seek to humanize people on bikes and encourage car drivers and bike riders alike to share the road, obey traffic laws, and be courteous to one another. Bike BloNo aims to roll out the campaign when ISU students return in the August of 2016.

Ad Hoc Safety Committee

This effort was not planned for 2015, but developed after local cyclists on a training ride in McLean County were harassed a by a motorist using his vehicle as a weapon. One person on a bike was forced off the road and sustained serious injuries, from which he has recovered. This committee is comprised of members of a Bloomington Cycle and Fitness racing team, Bike BloNo board members, and the McLean County Wheelers. They will continue to meet regularly and review car-bike incidents and will aim to issue an annual report on the number and nature of car-bike crashes. Many thanks to statistician and cyclist Mike Bernico and competitive cyclist Curt White for driving this effort. The 2015 committee report can be seen at the Bike BloNo website and media reporting on the report can be found by searching the WGLT and Pantagraph archives.  

Other Select Activities and Accomplishments

  • Strengthened relationship with Connect Transit, writing letters of support for a TIGER Grant application for a new downtown transfer station and for a Chamber of Commerce Award.  Bike BloNo was honored to be asked!
  • Advocated for changes and improvements which helped bring about Bronze level designation as a Bicycle Friendly University for Illinois Wesleyan University and Bicycle Friendly Community for the Town of Normal.
  • Partnered with the Friends of the Trail and a private donor to benefit the West Bloomington Revitalization Project’s Walk In Bike Out Project (WIBO). The FOT and Bike BloNo are both donating $500 to buy equipment and tools. And Bike BloNo is matching another 500  from a Bike BloNo supporter who wants to provide bike lights for every adult bike to be distributed in April of 2016.
  • Volunteered to recondition and clean bicycles for WIBO and helped to organize and run a ticket system to distribute 185 adult and kid bikes on the giveaway day.  
  • Participated in small group sessions helping to shape bike access as part of planning for Uptown Normal 2.0.
  • Surveyed and graded Town of Normal and City of Bloomington council candidates in effort to educate voters and educate candidates that bicyclists are interested and concerned in bicycle policies.  
  • Two board members attended the National Bike Summit, in Washington D.C.
  • Three board members attended the Illinois Bike Summit.
  • Board members volunteered to clean up sugar creek along the Constitution Trail from Sister Cities Garden to Tipton Park.
  • Continued a strong partnership between the Friends of the Constitution Trail, WGLT’s Good To Go, and Bike BloNo to promote valet-style bike parking at four annual community events.
  • Helped escort kids to Metcalf Elementary on Bike to School Day on May 6
  • Helped promote and participated in the tenth annual Ride of Silence on May 20th honoring cyclists killed by cars.
  • Addressed the Normal Town Council on Bike BloNo’s activities and 2015 priorities.  
  • Bike BloNo worked toward a establishing a ticket diversion program for people ticketed for violating bike ordinances. Adopted June 2nd. Cyclists cited have the option of expunging the ticket by taking a safety quiz.

Conclusion

In 2016, the Bike BloNo Board and the organization’s members will work on projects that will help set policy and infrastructure in the Town for decades. In the City of Bloomington the organization will work to implement projects in the City’s Bicycle Master Plan that will establish long-lasting infrastructure creating safer roads for bicyclists and motorists. In 2016 Bike BloNo will work toward implementing a safety awareness campaign that we hope keeps safety top of mind for all users of the road.

Bike BloNo needs your help. Get involved and let’s work together to make 2016 a short, sunny commute with the wind at our backs.

Mike McCurdy

President
Bike BloNo