-> part of the pedestrian and bicycle information center
sitemap about us -> goes to pbic website links join email list ask us a question
  search     go to
community problems and solutions design and engineering digital library education and enforcement health and fitness insight transit research and development rails and trails policy and planning bicycle crashes news and events outreach and promotion

initiating change

sustaining and growing

the bicycling community

educating community leaders

about the center


Define constituency
Any effective advocacy group has a well defined constituency as its power base. You have to develop a significant group that you will represent. Your constituency will help support your organization both through financial and political support.

Finding the right person who has the time, passion and ability to provide leadership is essential to successful advocacy. Leadership roles can be performed by employees of public entities like state and local transportation departments. However, if the resources are available to hire a professional staff member for your organization, this may well prove to be the most effective route. Employees of public entities are often limited by the confines of their working environment. Hiring someone to represent your organization will eliminate the conflict of interests often incurred by public employees.

Most advocacy organizations have very limited resources, especially during the initial stages after being founded. Finding individuals committed to your cause is essential. Volunteers are normally very committed and do not demand many resources, so finding them is an important step to developing a strong advocacy network.

Resource efficiency
Take full advantage of whatever resources you have. If you lack office space, work out of home but act as if you have an office. Develop business cards, letterhead and dedicate a phone line for your organization. Print business cards for your key volunteers. Provide job titles for those who contribute to your mission. Look to provide contract work where appropriate. Can you offer expertise on safety related issues for your metropolitan planning organization? Consider things like project evaluation, safety studies, and materials, bike surveys and counts, planning and education materials. These are some areas you may be able to use you expertise to win contracts for work. Also, look to partner with other nonprofit organizations where appropriate.

Consider developing well-conceived and well-run cycling events to raise funds for your cause. Such events can also broaden your support network within the cycling community.

Transportation agencies often have trouble acquiring necessary information about bicycling called for under the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21), providing government contract work for bicycling advocacy organizations. Consider project evaluation, safety studies and materials, bike surveys and counts, planning and education materials. Partnerships with other non-profits and consulting agencies should also be considered.

Developing bike maps for sale to the public can be a useful advocacy tool and fundraising technique. Free government sponsored maps can produce income if contracted to produce the material.

Future possibilities
There may be more business consulting opportunities opening up if our mode is "mainstreamed." Bicycling may well have to deal with broader issues involving insurance, parking, employer/employee commuting issues and tax relief.

Coalition building
Network where possible. It can be very useful to search for and align your organization with other groups that may share your vision. Look for opportunities to gain legal advice, increase your numbers, and get technical advice through partnerships with health or environmental organizations.

Tell businesses and foundations what you can do for them. How does your efforts help with their mission? It is important to sell things that your organization already does well so you can produce immediate results for the organizations providing needed financial support.

basics of bicycle advocacy
This is a simple breakdown of the advocacy process and how to get started.

group organizing
How does one begin to assemble and manage a group of like-minded individuals? Find out here.

choosing issues
Choose your issues's how.

acquiring resources
Setup a framework that allows your group the best possible chance to garner resources.

marshaling resources
These are the seeds that will help your group identify possible sources of information, support and funding.

working with the media
Learn the basics to help your group become more media savvy and as a result, more effective.

working with community leaders
Tips on how to create a productive working relationship with those in the community.


© Copyright 2000  Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center