I read this question on a Facebook post: “Why would anyone pay dues to a bike Club? That’s a fair question. If all you are looking to do is meet up with a few friends and ride, then meetup.com or Facebook is probably for you.
The Peninsula Bicycling Association (PBA) is more than just a ride group. We are an incorporated entity with the State of Virginia, and we are a tax-exempt social club with the Internal Revenue Service under section 501(c)(7) of the Internal Revenue Code. As an incorporated club, we have elected directors and officers and rules of governance that allow for the club’s continuity over time. PBA has been around since 1983 and has had many presidents, officers, and members, but its mission has continued, “to promote and encourage the use of the bicycle as a means of recreation and transportation; to develop physically fit, self-reliant and well-informed citizens to uphold the rights of bicyclists; to encourage the development and utilization of facilities for bicycling on public lands; and to provide information in the interest of bicycle safety.”
The club has benefits for its members, as well, that a riding group does not have. One of those is insurance on our members when we are on group rides. If you are in an accident, then the insurance would cover up to $10,000 for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Insurance also allows us to hold our large group rides because the counties require us to provide proof of liability insurance before the event.
This is important. For example, one group attempted a group ride which they posted on Facebook only to have Virginia Beach contact them regarding a permit. Yes, in Virginia Beach if you hold an event, which they define as “any festival, concert, parade, public performance or announced public gathering held on a public street, right-of-way, or public property,” you are required to pay an event fee in advance and have liability insurance.
As a club, we also have expenses that are paid from membership dues. Most of these expenses are minimal. The post office box, annual filing fee, domain registration, and membership in the League of American Bicyclists (which is required for our insurance) are collectively only about $400. Our club insurance is about $5 per member. Our biggest fixed expense is our website and software which we use to manage communications, membership rolls and renewals, and event registrations, which costs us $1,700 a year.
PBA hosts several traditional member events where the Club pays for most of the event costs: a ride and social gathering in June, our After the Fourth Ride and Potluck Picnic, the Annual Memorial Bike Ride and Ice Cream Social, and a Holiday party.
As a club, we also contribute to our communities. We funded the bicycle repair stations at the Charles City County Courthouse on the Capital Trail and the Air Power Park trailhead of the Hampton Waterwalk Trail. We have purchased bicycles and helmets for needy kids. After the Surry and Smithfield rides, we always make contributions to the organizations that assist us with those events.
As a member, you also get something tangible back. If you purchase items from Conte’s, Trek Bicycles Newport News, or Village Bikes, they off us a 10% discount on bike accessories. If you buy something from them, remember to thank them for their support.
Perhaps the most important reason to be a member is that you are giving strength in numbers to an organization that advocates for improving your cycling experience in the community. PBA has a voice with both Newport News and Hampton on different bicycling initiatives. We have been instrumental in helping start the Sunday Cruise rides in Hampton. We were asked by Newport News to ride and comment on improving the City’s bike routes. As an organization, we have standing where one individual does not simply because of the number of members we represent. We make a difference on the Peninsula.
Perhaps this is most evident in the incorporation of the Tidewater Trail Alliance (TTA), a 501(c)(3) organization, formed to advocate for an extension of the Capital Trail through the Peninsula to Fort Monroe and Southside ultimately to Virginia Beach, which will be called the Birthplace of America Trail (BoAT). PBA funded the incorporation of TTA and several members serve on its board. This trail will only happen if there is public interest in the Trail, and TTA will need an organized voice like PBA to speak for cyclists as it works with the cities and counties along its route.
So, thank you for being a member, and know that your membership is important to the bicycling community here in Hampton Roads.
Written by Treasurer, Tom Carmine, this appeared in the April-May 2018 issue of the Chainstay, our club newsletter, and has been updated to reflect current bike shop names and club events.
The club motto is displayed in the middle rear pocket panel of our jersey, "Come Ride With Us"