Bike Friendly Kalamazoo (BFK) is a network of volunteers drawn from throughout the greater Kalamazoo metropolitan planning organization, working to make our entire community even more bicycle friendly.
Background and Participants
The effort began in 2011 with a series of brainstorming sessions with delegates drawn from law enforcement, parks and recreation, transportation engineering, elected officials, education, bicycle retailers, bike teams and clubs, health care, and philanthropic and charitable organizations.
Long Term Vision and Plan
The delegates prepared a list of more than 600 ideas clustering around themes ranging from infrastructure to education, safety to tourism, and ways to enhance the community’s prestige and reputation.
Implementing the ideas is expressed in a long term plan condensed into a series of objectives aimed at achieving each of these main components. The plan is expected to unfold and evolve over time as some goals are achieved or modified, and new goals emerge. This is the first such broad-based bicycling plan our community has put together. The process we’ve been following and the plan that has emerged are a model of inter-governmental and cross-organizational cooperation.
The motivation to make our community even more bicycle friendly is many faceted. At the time our effort was launched the economy was in a downturn. Participants were initially interested in finding ways to enhance the greater community’s reputation and create a positive economic draw for the area.
Benefits to the community include:
- enhanced public safety
- economic development
- improved fitness and wellness
- expanded recreational opportunities
- improved education and awareness-building
- reduction in costs and taxes related to health care
- strengthened family bonds and values
- improved mental health
- upturn in local retailing
- increased ability to attract talented employees
- business retention
- expanded tourism
- facilities supporting multiple uses such as jogging, running, hiking, walking pets, strolling with baby-buggies, painting a picture, photography, studying and appreciating nature and local wildlife.
When we discuss the list of benefits just mentioned above with others, people are often quick to add their own ideas, such as:
- supporting the environment
- reducing dependence on foreign oil
- reducing energy dependence
- reduction in tax increases such as with Medicare
- improving longevity and quality of life
- sense of freedom and independence
- plus, the simple pleasure of biking itself!
You can undoubtedly think of many more. The benefits for helping to make our community even more bicycle friendly are extensive.
Bike Friendly Kalamazoo is an informal network of individuals and organizations working toward a common goal that intersects with the goals of the groups they represent. BFK’s organizational status is backed up by its formal status as a Michigan not for profit corporation.
The way we move forward is dictated by the fact that our delegates and participants are busy people. Many lead organizations of their own and need to manage their time effectively. This means that we primarily stay in touch and coordinate our efforts through email and voice communication. Face to face meetings are held, but are employed only as needed to accomplish specific tasks best handled through direct discussion. Our volunteers are welcome to invite others to meet with each other as they see fit.
BFK incorporated as a Michigan not for profit corporation in mid-2018 to further ensure that our mission would continue and to further cement Bike Friendly Kalamazoo as a regional resource. Our bylaws may be found here; we modeled our own after other fine organizations, including the Greater Grand Rapids Bicycle Coalition. We will roll out changes to our website and public presence over the coming year bit by bit; we ask for your patience as we do so — our resources are limited and we are involved in many great projects!
Most of our goals are achieved through the actions of other organizations working in a cooperative spirit of enlightened self-interest, at this time we collect no dues and raise no funds. The only thing expected of our volunteers is to act on their commitments in a diligent manner as time and resources permit.
One of our key organizational principles is to achieve our goals by applying resources that already exist, by focusing those resources more effectively. Volunteers rely on their own creative sense and initiative to move toward our vision by launching or enhancing their own initiatives in their own domains and spheres of influence. Coordination is accomplished through communication via email and mutual personal encouragement.