By Dana Willett
Last Thursday the expansive windows and historic brick walls of REI’s flagship store welcomed roughly 30+ bicycle event organizers, race directors, and associated entities for the annual Colorado Bicycle Event Coalition meeting. Originally formed in 2008, the Coalition’s purpose is to bring cycling event organizers together to work with government agencies, collaborate calendars, educate, socialize, share resources, and ultimately work together.
Until this year the Coalition was focused on recreational rides; the meeting last week for the first time opened the field to all cycling events, including competitive race directors.
While about 30 rides and races were represented at the meeting, there are over 150 in the state, “so there is definitely opportunity for growth,” said Chandler Smith, co-founder of CBEC and co-owner of the online resource, BikeState38. The CBEC web page is housed on the BikeState38 site, and Chandler facilitated the 90-minute meeting.
Attendees included representatives from Ride The Rockies, Pedal The Plains, Mountain Top Cycling Club, Elephant Rock Ride, Copper Triangle, Tour of the Moon, Bike MS, Team Evergreen, CF Cycle for Life, Bicycle Tour of Colorado, Bicycle Colorado, Denver Century Ride, Tour de Ladies, Triple By[ass, Red Rock Gran Fondo, Lookout Mountain Hill Climb, Mt. Evans Hill Climb, DBC Events, Death Ride Tour, Colorado Park 2 Park, Mile Urban CX Chaos, Wacky Bike Ride, and Good Sam Bike Jam.
Colorado Bicycle Event Coalition
The goal of the coalition is to foster cooperation among recreational ride promoters and to provide a forum for the exchange of information and experience among the membership. CBEC maintains a master calendar of events to avoid conflicting dates and to provide a vehicle for cycling enthusiasts to navigate all of the state’s bicycling opportunities. Today the membership is statewide and is comprised of both non-profit and for-profit organizations. The CBEC membership includes bicycle clubs, one to three day special event rides and domestic week-long tours. This year, membership has been expanded to include both recreation and competitive events, across all biking types – road, mountain, cross and social rides.
After introductions and a brief overview, Chandler turned the meeting over to Scott Christopher of Bicycle Colorado. Scott recapped the storied history of BC and the state patrol, and said, “Now, we couldn’t be prouder of our working relationship, with the state patrol and other agencies.” He went on to discuss the benefits of the coalition, with an anecdote about the Colorado cycling event calendar: “We used to step on each others' toes with dates; in fact, there are stories of organizers pretending to be participants to get event info. But that was in the past..."
Scott then discussed Governor Hickenlooper’s Pedals Project, telling the story of People for Bikes inviting the governor to Interbike in Las Vegas as the keynote speaker, which hatched the idea and brought momentum to the initiative.
The governor's Pedals Project will apply $100 million over four years, $25m per year. The program does not require any new funding - it is not a grant program. For each of the four years $15m will come from CDOT, $7.5m from Great Outdoors Colorado (which is funded by the lottery), and $2.5m from CDOT’s budget specifically for Safe Routes to School.
Bicycle Colorado is raising its own funds for initiative in order to add staff and provide oversight of the program.
“We all should be public representatives of the bike industry,” Scott concluded. “We need to improve opportunities for riding bikes, including the 5 Es: Engineering, Education, Enforcement, Evaluation, and Encouragement.”
Chandler then opened the floor and county permitting processes were discussed. This led to a broader discussion of fees and permits on a state level, and it was suggested Bicycle Colorado connect with the state tourism office, the office of economic development, and other departments to engage in a conversation about statewide standards.
Scott Christopher noted that an RFP is currently being written for an Economic Feasibility Study addressing all of these issues.
Next up was Sergeant Chris Augustine, speaking about - of all things - drones and counter-terrorism. He cited accidents involving drones, such as a recent incident where a skier was nearly cut in half, and pointed out dangers many of us may not have thought about.
"Drones are programmed to land if a signal is lost. Imagine if a child at one of your rides or races reaches into the blades to grab the unit just as it reactivates."
From a risk management standpoint, there is great concern. Sergeant Augustine says awareness is the best method for safety. "Talk to your people," he suggested. "Let everyone know drones are in use, and provide reminders to never touch a unit."
In terms of counter-terrorism, the concern with drones is that they have become "gray noise." They have become so common that they tend to go unnoticed.
Currently the FAA is pushing drone safety education. The state patrol is working with Chandler and will be using his mailing list to notify ride organizers and race directors of an awareness training event that will be held in March. The event will be conducted by Homeland Security and will be a one day class.
The next presenter was Jeff Hunt, founder and CEO of the Avinova Media Group. Jeff provided an overview tutorial of digital advertising, including targeted advertising on Facebook (a great way to utilize digital advertising on a limited budget), keyword advertising (such as Adwords with Google), and conversion tracking (asking customers how they heard about you).
Jeff pointed out the keys to digital advertising are to first find the right audience, and then stay in front of that audience.
Up next was defense attorney Jim Moss of Recreation Law. Jim provided an entertaining talk on the very serious subject of crisis management.
He had great advice for avoiding getting sued in the case of an accident, in addition to helping event organizers understand the emotional elements that prompt victims to sue in the first place.
Jim emphasized the importance of good, healthy communication, in addition to excellent listening skills for solving problems. "If you act like your mother taught you, you won't be sued," he concluded.
Chandler closed the meeting with instructions on how to join the Coalition, benefits of membership, and reminders for upcoming events. For more information on CBEC, visit the web site.