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State nonprofits Cascade Bicycle Club, Washington Bikes merge

Published December 9, 2015

SEATTLE, Wash. (BRAIN) — The boards of directors of the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes approved the merger of the two organizations. The merger will create the nation’s largest statewide bicycle nonprofit, the groups said in a press release.

“We received feedback from each of our organization’s constituents and the majority was overwhelmingly supportive and excited about what opportunities and resources the merger will create,” said Catherine Hennings, board president of the Cascade Bicycle Club.

As of Jan. 1, 2016, Cascade Bicycle Club will be the name of the 501(c)(3) tax-deductible wing, focused on education, diversity and inclusion programs, most of the signature events and advocacy work. The organization’s 501(c)(4) arm, to be called Washington Bikes, will address statewide policy and outreach, selected statewide events and activities, and candidate endorsements.

“This merger will enhance both organizations and increase the reach and effectiveness of bike advocacy and education in a state that is already No. 1 in the U.S. for bicycling,” said Brian Foley, board chair of Washington Bikes.

The Cascade Bicycle Club is the nation’s largest locally based bicycle organization, with 15,000 members and 36 staff. The club organizes the popular Seattle to Portland ride, which draws thousands, as well as several other well-attended rides in the Pacific Northwest. Washington Bikes advocates for bicyclists through lobbying for better laws and more funding to grow cycling statewide.

The merger will unify bicycle education curriculum and resources across the state and in the Puget Sound region. Advocacy work will also be strengthened. The merger will result in saved overhead costs and more money directly funding current work and new programs, like Cascade's Major Taylor Project and Washington Bikes' state bike tourism initiative. Washington Bikes' grassroots successes across the state will also be a great partner for Cascade's statewide tours, events and rides.

“The merger will result in more reach, effectiveness and efficiency than either organization alone, and we’ll work with all the advocacy groups and clubs in the state,” said Barb Chamberlain, executive director of Washington Bikes.

A joint board committee developed short-term transition plans and conducted due diligence to fully understand what the merger entails and how the organizational missions will continue to ensure an effective strategic merger plan is in place.

"From bicycle advocacy in Seattle and statewide, to partnerships that support local bike clubs and groups, to continuing the growth of bike tourism, this merger is a big win for people who strive to make bicycling accessible to everyone and to improve lives through bicycling," said Elizabeth Kiker, executive director of the Cascade Bicycle Club.

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