BOULDER, CO (BRAIN)—In announcing the hire of Jenn Dice, a longtime IMBA staffer and face for the trail advocacy group in Washington, D.C., Bikes Belong has set the wheels turning on a new initiative that it’s calling the Bohm Strategy Center.
Dice, who will start her new job as vice president of government relations at Bikes Belong in February, will head it up and determine its structure, goals and a work plan, said Tim Blumenthal, president of Bikes Belong.
In a call Wednesday with BRAIN, Blumenthal said much of the details are still being ironed out and ultimately won’t be set until Dice comes on board. But the general goal for the Bohm Strategy Center is for it to function similar to a war room during political campaigns—a place where strategic information is gathered and acted on.
“Leslie [Bohm] was always so politically minded,” Blumenthal said of the founding board member of Bikes Belong, who passed away earlier this year. “It’s a great way to honor him.”
Some of what the staff working at the Strategy Center would do could include keeping track of members of Congress and their staffs and their bike-related votes and cycling connections; identifying business and community leaders who bike or have a track record of supporting cycling as well as pro athletes, celebrities and other influencers; keeping tally of all bike businesses by Congressional district and mobilizing them; tracking media coverage of cycling; and maintaining a schedule of major bike events, bike facility ribbon-cuttings and large conferences and working to get elected officials to attend them.
“This is not a re-crafting of stuff we were already doing,” said Blumenthal. “This is new. [The idea] came out of our work on the last transportation bill. Clearly, we have a ways to go when it comes to drawing on all of our available contacts. If we had done a better job of mobilizing the bike industry, suppliers, retailers, distributors and added to that by doing a better job of mobilizing the society leaders who ride bikes and are customers of bike stores, maybe we would have had more success with key players who in the end didn’t stand as tall or as strong for bicycling.”
"We need to know who we can call,” when funding dollars for bike infrastructure are on the line, Blumenthal said. “What are our assets? Who do we know?”
The Bohm Strategy Center will be based in Bikes Belong’s Boulder, Colorado, headquarters, but will have a presence in Washington, D.C., as well, since that’s where much of the talk about funding and legislative decisions take place.
Blumenthal said that while it’s a Bikes Belong initiative, the national group will work with state and local advocates as well as the League of American Bicyclists, the Alliance for Biking and Walking and IMBA. “Our intention is not to make this a closed thing,” he said.
The Bohm Strategy Center will launch early next year and be put into action as the new Congress gets going.