The Online Voice of the Bicycle Alliance of Washington

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Membership Matters: Fix A Flat, Grow The Alliance

Today's guest blog post was submitted by Bicycle Alliance board member Joe Platzner of Bellevue. Read more about Joe here.

As with any advocacy organization, there is power in numbers.  A diverse growing membership helps as we advocate for bicyclists and a bike-friendly Washington.  Most likely, if you are reading this, you are already a member.  If so, thanks again; your membership gives us leverage.  If you are not yet a member, consider signing up.  For the price of a tire or a handful of trips to your favorite coffee shop, you can add your voice to the Alliance.

As a new member of the team, I’m hoping to help out with a growth plan.  I suspect you will see a bit of activity and focus here as we create and implement this plan. 

To get the ball rolling, here is one idea, and we need your help to make it work.

Has this ever happened to you? 

  • You are riding along and see a cyclist stopped on the side of the road.  Perhaps the bike is upside down.  (Why is it that roadside repairs for the uninitiated often involve upside down bikes?)  Perhaps the rider has a sheepish “what now?” look.  Perhaps there is even a gaggle of riders engaged in what appears to be a corporate team building experience centered on a surprisingly quiet bike. You offer help and get an enthusiastic acceptance.  You fix a flat, boot a tire with a bar wrapper, or pull out a multi-tool, and soon they are on their way.   They are thankful. 

  • People at your kid’s bus stop know you as “The Mom Who Rides All The Time,” and they ask you to teach their kid to ride.  You work your magic in a few trips to the park, and their kid wobbles off for the first time filled with pride and excitement.  Ice cream and pictures may even be involved.  They are thankful.

  • A casual riding buddy adopts your garage as his favorite bike shop.   It is convenient and affordable!  You teach him the mysteries of handlebar tape wrapping.  They are thankful.

  • A neighbor stops by with a kid’s bike they picked up at a garage sale.  You chip in some parts and teach the kid basic maintenance as you fix it up.  They are thankful.

  • You pass your daughter’s outgrown bike to the next kid in line. But first, you take off the pink streamers and find a Spongebob bell.  Oh, and here’s a helmet you might want too.  They are thankful. 

  • You talk a friend through his first century.  They are amazed to learn they should probably eat and drink on all-day rides.  “Chamois cream” may even be dropped into the conversation.  They are thankful.

I’m sure you see the pattern here.  We like to help people with their bikes, and we would do it without reward or payback.  Sure tasty beverages are often involved in these transactions, but clearly the door is open with people happy to return the favor.  When that door is open, ask them to consider joining the Bicycle Alliance

Don’t hesitate to ask.  I’m new to this too, and I don’t like to be pushy, but if I fix a flat from now on, someone is going to learn about the Bicycle Alliance of Washington.

Want some help getting started? E-mail this page to a few of the people you helped recently.

It’s that time of year; bike shops are busy, and people need new bar tape.  Help them out and help us out. 


  1. And if you're a Bicycle Alliance member, please give us your input by taking our survey:

    Deadline is April 1.

  2. Too right - I absolutely love cycling and am all for spreading the word of two wheels- the benefits are all so evident; great for your health, cuts down traffic on the roads and lowers Co2 levels.

    Plus the fact that it's now seen as trendy, there really is no reason why we can't convert more people.

    Saying that, hopefully you're not dressed in your all-in-one lycra number when you go to fix that puncture for somebody in need at the curbside... lol!

  3. Not a BAW member yet, but soon...
    Helping other cyclists or pedestrians or even motorists from a bike is natural. You're out in the open, can slow or stop easily, make eye contact and offer assistance. I've offered to make a call for a motorist with a disabled vehicle. I ask stopped cyclists if they have everything they need to get going again. On my commute home a couple of months ago, I encountered a lady with a 'new bike' from the local discount store, stopped by the side of the walk and looking at the pedals. Turns out one of her pedals had loosened and fallen off - bad 'build' at the store. Unfortunately, it was a cheap pedal. It had no allen socket, and I didn't have a pedal wrench. I tried to hand thread the pedal back on, but it had marred the crank threads while it was coming loose. We got it secure enough with my mini-pliers that she might be able to ride the short distance home to make better repairs. After that, I put my lightweight pedal wrench in my pannier. Never know when I might encounter another loose pedal.