The Chainlink

Julie requested I edit this thread to include CBF in the title. So, enjoy chainlinkers.

Thanks to all members that have emailed (new@activetrans.org). Rob, our executive director tried to address some of the concerns in a blog on our site http://www.activetrans.org/blog/we-are-listening

I'm also available to chat if anyone wants to call me 312.427.3325x287.

Thanks all, I hope that our work over the next few months shows that we deserve your membership.

Thanks much,
Ethan

Hello chainlinkers,

I wanted to respond to some questions, thoughts and concerns that you've posted.

This change means exciting things for our bicycling members! Our work to improve the overall transportation culture will only strengthen our bicycle advocacy.

And we are certainly not going to stop fighting for bike wins around the region. Check out our member newsletter and website as we move forward to see what we’ll continue doing for bicycling.

We heard you: 97% of our members’ want us encourage healthy and active transportation options through our work.

We have more information about the change and its background on our website www.activetrans.org. We will have copies of speeches from our Member Meeting, FAQs (http://www.activetrans.org/our-new-name/faq) and other opportunities to learn more about the change.

We hope our members won’t give up on us right after this change. You have stuck with us for nearly 25 years and improving transportation relies on you! Members and the public may submit comments to new@activetrans.org.

Organizationally we’ve been working towards this for years. Our strategic plan has two primary goals for 2026: reduce crashes in the region by 50% and ensure that 50 percent of all trips made are by biking, walking and transit.
Our plan and extensive research lead our board of directors on a two-year project to expand our mission and change our name.

We are a $4 million organization with more than 6,000 members and a staff of nearly 40. So of course some may think we’re going corporate with this change but I believe that we’re the region’s non-profit transportation advocacy group that gets things done.

We will keep winning for bikes and will win bigger when we’re also fighting for walking and transit.

I’m proud to be a member and to work at the Active Transportation Alliance.

Ethan Spotts

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Let's rename the chainlink and expand its scope to include all forms and modes of movement. We'll have more members and more to talk about!
I am disappointed in the board's decision to change the name of the CBF and expand it's focus. Although i understand and support the same goals that may have influenced the formation of the ATA, that is not really why i supported the CBF. I don't get on my bike everyday to try to destroy the oil oligarchy. I ride my bike because it's stimulating, efficient, and fun. I wouldn't think anyone would ride public transit for the same reasons.

Anyway, this is my first reaction. I feel a little let down that area cyclists might not have an organizational voice as strong as the CBF. I'll wait out the next year, but i am not sure i will continue membership.
I have worked for progressive non-profits for my whole life, and I have to say I'm disappointed and I think that cyclists and pedestrians share the same issues but public transit riders do not. Expanding the scope to include transit dilutes the issues we face and throws a whole new load of issues into the mix.

Personally, my issues are safety and driver ed. IMO Transit issues are primarily funding, schedule/reliability.
I wonder how many of the CBF contributions were from cyclist? I wonder how many cyclists will contribute to a group that is no longer clearly “dedicated to improving bicycling in Chicagoland.” Do they think pedestrians and transit riders will make contributions to the ATA?

I’m trying to picture their two largest fundraiser events …(both bike related) Bike the Drive and the and Boulevard Lakefront Tour with banners now reading “Chicagoland’s voice for better biking, walking and transit." A biking related event in which your money will also help work toward better walking and transit in Chicago… makes sense?

Just the name Active Transpiration Alliance…. The only “active” form of transpiration of the three is biking I guess walking could count although the word “active” to describe walking seems like a stretch to me…

What happened to a single, strong, concentrated voice for bicyclists in Chicago?

Chainlink? : )
See, I dunno about that. Transportation Alternatives in NY seems to hold to some of the same values/principles as the ATA, and they sponsor some pretty damn high-profile rides in the city.

That being said, I'm also kinda of ill at ease with the name change.

Adam said:
I’m trying to picture their two largest fundraiser events …(both bike related) Bike the Drive and the and Boulevard Lakefront Tour with banners now reading “Chicagoland’s voice for better biking, walking and transit." A biking related event in which your money will also help work toward better walking and transit in Chicago… makes sense?
OK. I have to say kudos to Mr. Ethan Spotts for responding so quickly to my comments and emails. I reread the "About the change" sections, as well as the "member" transcripts. I also understand the impact of collaboration and collective grant writing. Yet, my main question lies in the why? Why was it necessary to lose our one, strong bicycling advocacy group and have the mission changed without massively informing the "6,000 members?" This is where my concern is. Perhaps I missed the mailing, or maybe I missed a "Hey check out what's coming" link on the website, but I don't think so. The bottom line is the mission statement changed, and we were pretty much told after the fact (unless I am incorrect, and I do apologize if that is the case).

I am grateful that we can now take our bikes on the buses, but what about other issues such as buses & bike lanes? How does a group choose who to advocate for? It used to be clear, but now--especially with this vague, politically correct name, it's very difficult to tell.
The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has been doing pedestrian and public transit work for years. By being named the Chicagoland Bicycle Fedration it has limited the active transportation work that has been part of the work they've been doing for quite awhile. By having the name and mission more accurately describe the work that they already do the Active Transportation Alliance will be able to draw upon far more resources that will benefit bicycling, walking and transit.

To think that Active Trans (which from my understanding is the preferred short name as compared to ATA which is a struggling airline) will somehow put bicycling issues on the back burner is being fearful and reactionary by some bicyclists.

Read their tagline "Chicagoland's voice for better biking, walking and transit". There's a reason why biking is listed first and that is because biking will always be their first focus. Active Trans is still an organization that was founded by bicycle advocates that bike advocacy is their main work. Their biggest contracts are for bicycle work, their biggest fundraising events are bike rides and their core constituancy are bike enthusiasts. There is no way that they would turn away from this work. They understand that to make Chicagoland a better place to bike people have to be given better transportation options. Let's face it, the biking environment can only benefit from having more people choose to walk and take transit instead of driving cars.

By becoming the Active Transportation Alliance it will benefit ALL of the transportation work that benefits bicycling.
I hear where you are coming from Jason. I am more disappointed then confused about their future sponsorship….whereas in the past I knew that my contributions were going to a bicycle advocacy group now it’s not clear if my contributions will be spend for bicycling advocacy at all…

I understand their desire for collective grant writing but feel this was the wrong way to go about it. To simply tell their 6,000 existing members hey we changed our mission statement and name is disingenuous. A vote of some kind would have been more appropriate. After all as a member this is “our” organization... clearly those who work at the ATA and their board of directors felt otherwise.
Adam said:
I hear where you are coming from Jason. I am more disappointed then confused about their future sponsorship….whereas in the past I knew that my contributions were going to a bicycle advocacy group now it’s not clear if my contributions will be spend for bicycling advocacy at all…

I understand their desire for collective grant writing but feel this was the wrong way to go about it. To simply tell their 6,000 existing members hey we changed our mission statement and name is disingenuous. A vote of some kind would have been more appropriate. After all as a member this is “our” organization... clearly those who work at the ATA and their board of directors felt otherwise.

As far as a member organization having it's members set the direction the way that CBF/Active Trans is set up, I believe, is that members elect the Board of Directors and the Board sets the direction for the staff to execute. Of course the staff probably has greater influence on the Board than members and I believe that Randy Neufield, Chief Strategic Officer and staff, has a seat. But, the board was elected at Bike the Drive by the membership.

I don't know if it was an oversight or why membership wasn't notified earlier.

The way that bicycling is growing I think that there's plenty of room for a bicycle advocacy organization that's solely dedicated to bicycling. Come to think of it, there's already one that's not only soley dedicated to biking but just winter biking, I think it's called Bike Winter! Now maybe a great time to pick up the torch and start the Chicago Bike Federation (not to be confused with the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation or maybe). The new CBF could not only be just focused on bicycle issues, but only focused on bicycle issues in Chicago (not all this regional nonsense)! ;-)
Bikefreeek said:
The Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has been doing pedestrian and public transit work for years. By being named the Chicagoland Bicycle Fedration it has limited the active transportation work that has been part of the work they've been doing for quite awhile. By having the name and mission more accurately describe the work that they already do the Active Transportation Alliance will be able to draw upon far more resources that will benefit bicycling, walking and transit.

I would have preferred a return to the original mission, or a decrease in scope to reflect the mission as it was, rather than a broadening of the mission. If the organization has a history of mission creep, where will they go next? Without focus, goals become fuzzy and nothing gets done. In fact, renaming and changing the mission is already out-of-scope... time and effort have already been wasted.

Chicago Bike Winter is a great example of a nicely focused group. I wouldn't want it to become walk, take the bus, and bike winter.

And why restart a new "Chicago Bike Federation" when we already had something substantially the same?
Sam S said:
I would have preferred a return to the original mission, or a decrease in scope to reflect the mission as it was, rather than a broadening of the mission. If the organization has a history of mission creep, where will they go next? Without focus, goals become fuzzy and nothing gets done. In fact, renaming and changing the mission is already out-of-scope... time and effort have already been wasted.

Chicago Bike Winter is a great example of a nicely focused group. I wouldn't want it to become walk, take the bus, and bike winter.

And why restart a new "Chicago Bike Federation" when we already had something substantially the same?



Well, evidently their mission as the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has been "creeping" (or maybe we should say walking or taking the bus when not biking) for quite awhile now and thus the change. This certainly isn't something they just decided give a try and see how it goes. Active members in CBF shouldn't be too suprised at this change and already know of this sort of work with well documented programs such as Sunday Parkways, Safe Routes to School, Bike and Walk to School Day and even the Commuter Challenge. All of these programs have a pedestrian and/or transit component to them.

I'm not sure what to think of opinions that believe that walking and transit hasn't been part of CBF's mission all along. As long as I've been active and involved with CBF (10 years or so) it's been part and in the scope of the mission. It hasn't been the main focus and I don't believe that it ever will be, but as Active Trans they will be able to gain more resources for some work that's been done all along.

BTW, Bike Winter does and has advocated for walking and transit plenty.

Also, Chicago Bike Federation was (evidently) an unsuccessful try at humor (I thought the sideways winking smiley face denoted that). ;-)

Don't worry, Active Trans is going to work as hard for bike issues as CBF ever did. Even harder I bet.
Bikefreeek said:
I'm not sure what to think of opinions that believe that walking and transit hasn't been part of CBF's mission all along. As long as I've been active and involved with CBF (10 years or so) it's been part and in the scope of the mission. It hasn't been the main focus and I don't believe that it ever will be, but as Active Trans they will be able to gain more resources for some work that's been done all along.

BTW, Bike Winter does and has advocated for walking and transit plenty.

Also, Chicago Bike Federation was (evidently) an unsuccessful try at humor (I thought the sideways winking smiley face denoted that). ;-)

Don't worry, Active Trans is going to work as hard for bike issues as CBF ever did. Even harder I bet.

OK, so the mission has been creeping. This is not good.

Here it is from 2001:

http://web.archive.org/web/20010802031820/www.biketraffic.org/aboutcbf.htm
Whether you bike to the store, to work, for exercise, or for fun, you're entitled to safe and enjoyable bicycling. But you're hassled by heavy traffic, limited trails, and careless drivers. Since 1985 the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has attacked these problems, and more. We believe the bicycle can improve the way people live, and we're tired of transportation programs that favor automobile use at all costs. We want a future that offers people the chance to choose bicycling as a healthy way to get around.

The mission of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation is to improve the bicycling environment and thereby the quality of life in the region. The Federation does this by promoting bicycle safety, education and facilities, and by encouraging use of the bicycle as an energy-efficient, economical, and nonpolluting form of transportation and as a healthful and enjoyable form of recreation.

And 2004:

The mission of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, founded in 1985, is to improve the bicycling environment and thereby the quality of life in the region. The Federation does this by promoting bicycle safety, education and facilities, and by encouraging use of the bicycle as an energy-efficient, economical and nonpolluting form of transportation and as a healthful and enjoyable form of recreation.

And sometime in 2007, walking and transit were added to the website.

I don't get the "Transit" part.

I guess my ideals diverged from those of CBF somewhat recently (after 2004), and I was unaware.

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