Connecting the Dots in Vancouver

Today’s guest blog post was submitted by Eric Giacchino of Vancouver.  Eric is the President of the recently formed Clark County Cycling Coalition. 

Cyclists in southwest Washington have something to be excited about this year as the newly formed non-profit, Clark County Cycling Coalition or “C-4” has hit our local streets and bikeways!  Using the Clark County Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (approved last November) as our guide, the list of advocacy and education work C-4 has accomplished continues to grow.  And backed by a growing group of incredible volunteers from the cycling community, we’re constantly evaluating our efforts and seeking ways to improve cycling in our area.

Photo by Eric Giacchino.
In June we wrapped up our two-week bicycle safety course at two Vancouver middle schools with over 350 sixth, seventh and eighth grade cyclists.  Each student received a properly fitted helmet thanks to a generous donation from the Vancouver Bicycle Club.  Although this program has existed for almost a decade thanks to active Bicycle Alliance member Joe Gruelich, he never had the resources to expand it.  As the program gains notoriety now, C-4 was regrettably forced to decline invitations from other interested schools that also want the program…Only temporarily.
It is our vision that with enough resources we can successfully add one school a year to the program.  It took some convincing, but I helped Vancouver School District officials apply for a State Safe Routes to School grant and developed a plan to deliver the program should the District win the grant.  We’re also looking into adding after school programs and summer camps based on the availability of volunteers and finances.  The Safe Routes Grant is a necessary step for the school programs.
Last week C-4 participated in the Washington State School for the Blind tandem ride and doubled the number of tandems that rode last year.  It was a fun event and a way to reach out to a group of kids that might not otherwise have the chance to ride a bike.
 Through the summer we continue bicycle outreach and education efforts by organizing several family oriented Pedalpalooza rides last month, and staffing a bike parking facility for big events like the Ft Vancouver Fourth of July Celebration and the popular Six to Sunset Concert Series.  This continues to be an effective way to connect with the bicycle community and let people know about local trails and safe bike routes as well as our organization and programs.  We’re grateful to Vancouver Senior Planner and Bicycle Alliance Board Member Jennifer Campos for the opportunity to use the City’s bike racks and spread the bicycle word during these events.
As we grow, (115 Facebook friends and over 600 viewers a day!) we continue to search for a space that will store our school bicycle fleet and become C-4’s home.  Several bike friendly real estate agents have joined the search and pointed us toward a few positive leads.  I hope we’ll have a space soon that will evolve into a small community shop and gathering place.  The website is under construction and will host our events calendar and the usual electronic info.
I’ve noticed a marked increase in both new and veteran cyclists around town this year and its awesome!  I don’t know if it’s the cost of fuel, the desire to stay fit or simply the enjoyment of riding, but the outpouring of support only proves the area has gone far too long without a central, uniting voice for bicycling issues.  C-4 will continue to gain momentum and connect the dots of the individual efforts to become the “hub” for bicyclists and cycling issues in this area.
Keep an eye out for an invitation to our “roll out” party this Fall! 
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