10 Tips for a Successful 'Show Congress' Event

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  • AmericaBikes1612KStreet,NWSuite802,Washington,DC20006(202)2233726www.americabikes.org

    10TipsforaSuccessfulShowCongressEvent

    OverviewThebasicconceptofaShowCongresseventistoconnectamemberofCongresswithbicyclingbyarrangingtheirparticipationinatrailopening,ribboncuttingceremony,orcommunitybikeeventinawaythatisvisual,public,andfun.

    ThebottomlineisthatyouwanttomakeyourSenatororRepresentativelookgoodbackintheirhomedistrictorstatewithaneventthatispositive,photogenic,andconnectedwithbicyclinginsomeway.Participatinginaneventlikethisalsomeansyoumeetstaffers,bothDCbasedandthosewhoworkinadistrictoffice.Theseconnectionsalwaysprovetobebeneficial.

    Herearesomethingstoconsiderforputtingonanevent:

    1. SitelocationYouhavetogowhereatrail(couldbeabikelane,mountainbiketrail,orBMXfacility)exists,isnewlyopening,orisbeingdedicated.EvenbetterisifthesitelocationisinthesametownwhereyourRepresentativeorSenatorhasadistrictoffice.Thiswillincreasethelikelihoodoftheeventcomingtogetherbecauseitwillmeanarelativelyshortdistancetotravel.HavingagreateventconceptmaynotbeenoughtoattractyourSenatororRepresentativeifitrequiresalongdrive(morethan20minutes)toaremotepartofthedistrictandbackagain.

    2. TimingKeepinmindthatyourSenatororRepresentativewillbeprettybusyandmayhavealimitedamountoftimetospendatyourevent.Ifyoucanlinkyoureventtosomethingelsetheyredoinglaterthesamedayinanearbylocation,thiswillhelp.Twentyminutesorsoisoftenaboutthelimitasthestaffwilllikelyhaveafulldayofstopsormeetingsscheduled.

    3. WorkingwithstaffYoumightbeginthisprocessbyworkingwithastafferbasedinaD.C.office,butyoulllikelyendupworkingwithadistrictorstatelevelstaffperson.StaffchangesarecommonattheD.C.officelevel,butdistrictstafferstendtostayonthejoblonger,whichisgoodforbuildinglongtermpartnerships.

    4. ProposingtheeventYouneedtopackagetheeventsothestaffpersoncanreadilyunderstanditandseetheclearbenefit.Italsoneedstobeacompletepackageifitincludesabikeride,youneedtobringthebikeandahelmet.Youmayalsoneedtoprovideabikeandhelmetforastaffperson.Keepinmind,too,thatmanySenatorsorRepresentativesmightnotbecomfortableonabike,sobesuretocheckwiththestaffpriortoarrangingaride.

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    5. BeingflexiblewithdatesandlocationsItsagoodideatopresentseveraloptionsthestaffcanworkwithdependingontheRepresentativeorSenatorsschedulebackinthedistrict.Remember,too,thatallyourplanningmightgetderailedbylastminuteschedulechanges.AweekendeventthatsagoinmidweekmightbeinterruptedduetoavotebackinD.C.ItsgoodtobereadywithPlanB.

    6. PackingtheEventGettingaRepresentativeorSenatortoattendisonlypartoftheequation.Youneedtoensurethatlotsofpeopleattendyourevent,evenifitmeansstagingthemtoappearatacertaintime.MembersofCongressloveconstituents(andkids)soyouneedtomakesurethatlotsofthemwillbeonhandtotalk,saythanks,poseforpictures,etc.Usingabikeclubororganizedrideisagoodbackdroptoensurethatyoullhavenumbers.

    7. ScopeRememberthisisafeelgoodevent.ThisisnotthetimetopressaRepresentativeorSenatoraboutaparticularissue.Buildarelationshipnowthatwillsetthetablefortheheavyliftinglater.Keepingitpositivewillhelpbuildtrustbetweenyouandthestaff.

    8. Press/mediaWithoutpressormediacoverage,theresprobablynotacompellingreasonforyourRepresentativeorSenatortoattend.Youneedtomakesurelocalnewspapers,localTV,journalists,etc.,willbeonhandforinterviews,followupquestions,photos,blogs,etc.GettingaRepresentativeorSenatorbackinthedistrictforabicycleeventortraileventisnewsworthyandusuallyagreatphotoop.Insomecases,thecongressionalstaffwillhelpwithpressreleases,coordinatingwiththemedia,etc.Clarifymediaroleswellinadvanceoftheevent.

    9. ThebusinessangleIntegratingabusinessangleisagoodideaandmayprovideextraappealtoRepublicanmembersofCongress.Bicycleretailersaresuccessfulsmallbusinesspeoplewhohireworkers,paytaxes,andoftenplayaprominentroleinthecommunity.Insomecases,retailerscandocumenthowbusinesshasincreasedorledtoadditionalshoplocationsduetoanewbiketrail,bikelane,ormountainbiketrail.Forhelpfindingaretailer,contactCaronWhitakeratAmericaBikes(caron@americabikes.org).

    10. PosteventfollowupAfteryourevent,besuretofollowupwithathankyounotes,calls,oremailstocongressionalordistrictstaff,aswellastotheSenatororRepresentative.Itsalsoagoodideatothankanypressormediawhoparticipatedaswell.

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    EffectiveMessagingforYourShowCongressEvent

    Effectivemessagingbefore,during,andafteryourShowCongresseventcanhelpyouoryourorganizationcreatealastingandimpactfulrelationshipwithyourSenatororRepresentativeandtheirstaff.UsethisguidetostayonmessagewithyourSenatororRepresentativeandtheirstaff.

    FrametheEventinYourOutreachWhenyouinviteyourSenatororRepresentative,itisbesttofocusonyoureventsimportancetothecommunity.Yourelectedofficialsstaffshouldgettheimpressionthatyoureventwillbeafeelgoodopportunitytomeetconstituentsandreceivepositivepress.Keepthesepointsinmindwhenreachingouttoyourelectedofficialandtheirstaff.

    Thiseventisanimportantcelebrationinyourcommunity.Staffmemberswhoreceiveyourinvitationshouldhaveaclearpictureofwhythisbikecentriceventisimportanttoconstituents.Youcouldemphasizeannualtradition,celebratinghealthylifestyles,orlocalexcitementaroundanewbikefacility.

    Happyconstituentswillbeinattendance.Staffshouldknowthatthiswillbeanopportunitytoconnectwithvotersintheirbossstateordistrict.Willyoureventinvolvelocalfamilies,businessowners,localofficials,orbikecommuters?

    YourSenatororRepresentativesrolewillbemeaningfulandnotpoliticallycharged.Suggestseveralnoncontroversialrolesforyourelectedofficial,likecuttingaribbonorgivingaspeech.Yourelectedofficialsstaffwillhaveaclearerunderstandingoftheeventiftheyknowhowyouhopetoengagetheirboss.

    Theeventwillcelebratebikingand/orwalkinginyourstateordistrict.ThegoaloftheShowCongresseventistoconnectyourofficialwithbikingandwalkingintheirconstituency.IfyourSenatororRepresentativewillspeakattheevent,thespeechwritershouldknowtopreparetalkingpointsaboutthebenefitsofbiking.

    Mediawillbepresenttocovertheevent.Stafflookforgoodpressopportunitiesfortheirbosses,sobesuretospreadthewordtolocalmediaandtellstaffthatreporterswillbepresent.Youcanalsoasktoworkwiththeelectedofficialspresssecretarytoarrangemorecoverage.

    Avoidanythingpoliticallycharged.Theresnoneedtoconnectthiseventwithpoliticallycontroversialsubjects.

    KeepitPositiveDuringtheEventYourSenatororRepresentativesparticipationintheactualeventshouldconnectyourofficialwithbikinginyourstateordistrictinanonpoliticalway.Whenpeopleseephotosandcoverageoftheeventafterwards,theyshouldseeyourelectedofficialcelebratingbikingintheirconstituency.Duringthepublicevent,makesureto:

    Makeyourelectedofficiallookgood.Youwantyourofficialandtheirstafftohaveagoodimpressionofyouandofbikingintheirdistrict.

    FocusonconnectingyourCongresspersonwithbiking.CreateopportunitiesfortheSenatororRepresentativetomeetlocalconstituentswhobike,tocelebrateafacility,ortoenjoythebikingscene.

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    Keeparecordofyourofficialsremarks.Havingarecordofyourofficialsprobikingquoteswillhelpbuildtheirsupportforbikingandwalkinglegislation.

    Takepicturesofyourelectedofficialparticipatingintheevent.PhotosofaCongresspersonwithkidsinhelmetsarenotonlyadorabletheyregreatpressforyourofficialandtheyvisuallyconnectyourelectedofficialwithbiking.SnaplotsofpicturesofyourSenatororRepresentativespeaking,cuttingribbons,ridingabike,orposingwithconstituentsonbikes.

    Steerawayfrompoliticallycontroversialsubjects.Yourelectedofficialandtheirstaffarepresentforafeelgoodevent.Thisisnotthetimetopressyourofficialaboutaparticularissue.Keepingitpositivewillhelpbuildtrustbetweenyouandthestaff.

    HaveaPrivateConversationaboutLegislationTheendofasuccessfulpubliceventcanbeagreattimetoengageyourCongresspersonaboutbikingandwalkinglegislation.Usethesetipsandtalkingpointstoensureasuccessfulconversation:

    Holdabrief,privateconversation.Thisconversationshouldtakeplaceawayfrommediacrewsandcrowds,whereyourelectedofficialcanfeelmorecomfortablespeakingcandidly.

    Makethecaseforbicyclingandwalking.SeetheBenefitsofBikingandWalkingsheetinthistoolkitforsuggestionsondata.Uselocalsuccessstoriesifyouhavethem.

    Maketheasks.Askyourelectedofficialtomaintaindedicatedfundingforbikingandwalking,suchasTransportationEnhancements,SafeRoutestoSchool,andRecreationalTrails.Askthemtoensurethatlocalgovernmentshaveavoiceintransportation.

    Recordyourofficialsspecificposition.ClearlyaskyourRepresentativeorSenatorwhethertheywillsupportdedicatedbikingandwalkingfundingandlocalgovernmentvoicesintransportation.Keeptrackoftheiranswer.

    Takeadvantageofdataaboutyourstateanddistrict.Atamericabikes.org/resources,wekeeptrackofhowfederalbikingandwalkingprogramsbenefitstatesandcongressionaldistrictacrossthecountry.Handingyourelectedofficialasummarysheetofhowbikingandwalkingfundsbenefityourcommunitycanmakealastingimpression.

    FollowUpwithaThankYouAftertheevent,besuretothankyourelectedofficialandthestaffwithwhomyoucoordinated.Tipsforthanking:

    ThankbothstaffandtheSenatororRepresentative.Besuretobothmaintainyourworkingrelationshipwithyourofficialsstaffandwiththeofficial.

    Reiteratetheeventssuccess.Discusswhytheeventwasimportant,whatwasaccomplished,andhowtheofficialspresencemadeadifference.

    Sendpressclipsandphotos.Pressclippingsorlinkstopositivecoverageoftheeventwilldemonstratethattheeventwasworthyourelectedofficialstime.

  • BENEFITSOFBIKINGANDWALKING

    Bicyclingandwalkingarecriticalcomponentsofournationaltransportationsystem.

    In2009,12%ofalltripsintheUnitedStatesweremadebybicyclingorwalkingup25%from2001.1

    Bicyclecommutingincreasedbymorethan40%nationwidebetween2000and2008.2

    Bicycleindustryandtourismcreatejobsandcontributestothenationaleconomy.

    TheU.S.bicycleindustrysupportsanestimated1.1millionjobsandgeneratesnearly$18billioninfederal,stateandlocaltaxes.7

    Between16millionand20millionbicyclesaresoldintheUnitedStateseveryyearmorethanallofthecarsandlighttruckssoldintheU.S.combined.8

    InWisconsin,bicyclinggeneratesnearly$1.5billionayearintotaleconomicimpact,manytimesgreaterthanthe$9millioninfederalfundingspentannuallyonbicycleandpedestrianprojectsinthestate.9

    Buildingbikeinfrastructurecreatesmorejobsperdollarthanbuildingroadinfrastructure.Bikeinfrastructurecreatesover11jobspermilliondollarsinvested,whileroadconstructioncreateslessthan8jobspermilliondollars.10

    Bicyclingandwalkinginfrastructurearegoodforlocaleconomies.

    InsouthwestVirginia,visitorsalongtheVirginiaCreeperTrailspend$1.59millionannuallyprovidinganestimated27newfulltimejobs.11

    InIndianapolis,IN,astudyofhomevaluesneartheMononTrailconcludedthathomesclosertothetrailsellforanaverageof11percentmore.12

    InSanFrancisco,CA,twothirdsofmerchantsalongValenciaStreetsaidnewbicyclelaneshadapositiveoverallimpactontheirbusiness;twothirdsalsosupportedbuildingmoretrafficcalmingmeasuresonthestreet.13

    OnNorthCarolinasOuterBanks,bicycletourismgenerates$60millionannuallyineconomicactivity,anannualreturnninetimesthecostoftheregions$6.7millioninvestmentinbicycleinfrastructure.14

    AmericaBikes 1612KStreetNWSuite802,Washington,DC20006 (202)2233726 www.americabikes.org

    CommunitiesacrossAmericahaveseenbicyclingandwalkingprojectsimprovetheirtransportationsystems.

    InMinneapolis,MN,theMidtownGreenwayisusedbyanaverageof3,500bicyclistsaday.Thisismoretrafficthan77%ofMinneapoliscityroads.3

    InPortland,OR,7,100dailytripsor21%ofalltransportationtripsontheHawthorneBridgeacrosstheWillametteRiveraremadebybike.Ifthose7,100tripsweremadebycar,Portlandwouldhavetobuildanewbridge.4

    InWashington,DC,theCapitalCrescentTrailisusedbyalmost400bicyclistsduringthe79a.m.weekdayperiod.ThisrelievesrushhourtrafficinoneofthemostcongestedmetropolitanregionsintheUnitedStates.5

    InLickingCounty,OH,thenearly30milesofpavedpathsintheareahasseensignificantuse,withonepathseeingapeakeveningrushhourof80users.Thisdemonstratesbicyclecommutingcanworkinaruralarea.6

  • Thereisahighdemandformorebicyclingandpedestrianinfrastructure

    SevenintenAmericanssaythattheywouldliketobikemorethantheydonow;butlessthanhalfofthosesurveyedweresatisfiedbyhowtheircommunitiesweredesignedforbicycling.22

    TheTransportationEnhancements(TE)program,whichfundsthemajorityofbicycleandpedestrianprojects,isoversubscribedinamajorityofstates.ThemostrecentcallforTEproposalsinOklahomayieldedrequestsforroughly3timestheavailablefunds.23

    Inthelast6years,over300communitieshaveappliedforbicyclefriendlycommunitystatustoimprovetheirtransportation,livabilityandtourism.24

    Increasingbicyclingandwalkinghelpsmeetournationalgoalsfor:

    LoweringObesity

    Anadultwhobicyclesregularlytypicallyhasaleveloffitnessequivalenttosomeone10yearsyoungerandalifeexpectancytwoyearslongerthanthenationalaverage.15

    Childrenwhowalktoschoolhavehigherlevelsofphysicalactivitythroughoutthedayandhigherlevelsofcardiovascularfitness.16

    Accesstopathscanleadtogreaterphysicalactivity.AfterabicycleandpedestrianpathwasbuiltonthenewRavenelBridgeinCharleston,SouthCarolinaoneofthemostobesestatesinthenationtwothirdsofallusersreportedasignificantincreaseintheirphysicalactivity.17

    EasingCongestion

    Asmallreductionindrivingcausesalargedropintraffic.In2008,thenumberofU.S.vehiclemilestravelleddropped3%,translatingtoanear30%reductioninpeakhourcongestion.18

    Communitiesthatinvestinbicyclingandwalkingseeanincreaseinthepercentageoftripstakenbybicycle.19

    HaltingClimateChangeandReducingOurDependenceonOil

    Increasingthemodeshareofalltripsmadebybicyclingandwalkingafewpercentagepointscouldleadtofuelsavingsofaround3.8billiongallonsayearandreducegreenhousegasemissionsby33milliontonsperyear.Thisisequivalenttoreplacing19millionconventionalcarswithhighlyefficienthybrids.20

    89percentofAmericansbelievethattransportationinvestmentsshouldsupportthegoalsofreducingenergyuse.21

    AmericaBikes 1612KStreetNWSuite802,Washington,DC20006 (202)2233726 www.americabikes.org

    _____________________________________

    1NationalHouseholdTravelSurvey2009,FHWAOfficeofPolicy.22008AmericanCommunitySurvey,USCensusBureau.3MidtownGreenwayCoalition,www.midtowngreenway.org.4PortlandBicycleCountReport2009,PortlandBureauofTransportation.5CoalitionfortheCapitalCrescentTrail,www.cctrail.org.6LCATSLongRangeMultiModalTransportationPlan,LickingCountyAreaTransportationStudy,2008.7OutdoorIndustryFoundation,TheActiveOutdoorRecreationEconomy,2006.8NationalBicycleDealersAssociation,2008;U.S.BureauofTransportationStatistics,May2008.9MaggieGrabow,etal.,ValuingBicyclingsEconomicandHealthImpactsinWisconsin,2010.10HeidiGarrettPeltier,PedestrianandBicycleInfrastructure:ANationalStudyofEmploymentImpacts,PoliticalEconomyResearchInstitute,June2011.11RailstoTrailsConservancy,FromTrailTownstoTrOD:TrailandEconomicDevelopment,August2007.12Lindseyetal.,PropertyValues,RecreationValues,andUrbanGreenways,JournalofParksandRecreationAdministration,V22(3)pp.6990.13EmilyDrennen,EconomicEffectsofTrafficCalmingonUrbanSmallBusinesses,DepartmentofPublicAdministration,SFStateUniversity,Dec2003.14Lawrie,etal.,PathwaystoProsperity:TheEconomicImpactofInvestinginBicyclingFacilities,N.C.DepartmentofTransportationDivisionofBicyc...