P.E.D.A.L.: RELOADED

Quo Vadimus?

A Review and an Updated Plan

by

PEDAL's Founder, Michael Kreek

Introduction:

PEDAL has been dormant this past year. It is now time to wake it from its slumbers and allow it to fulfill its promise. This document is an outline of how that might be done, It is divided into the following sections:

  1. Brief Review of PEDAL'S Past,
  2. Mission Reloaded,
  3. How That Mission Can be Implemented,
  4. Resources Needed for Mission Implementation,
  5. Next Steps,
  6. Conclusion.

(Another reason why PEDAL has been dormant this past summer is that PEDAL's cash reserves were with Cheshire 4-H Council despite our agreement to part ways and despite a series of letters requesting the cash reserves since November 2005. Recently I received an email from them informing me that a check had been issued and sent to me in July of 2006 but it never had been cashed. I informed them that the check had never been received by me and they said they would resend. They have done this.)

Brief Review of PEDAL's Past:

Here is a list of major and not-so-minor milestones in PEDAL's history till today.

  1. Articles about PEDAL, written by Nicole Viger, were published in the Keene Sentinel throughout the years of 2004-2006.
  2. The Community Youth Profile Grant (Cheshire County) for a Bicycle Safety Course was approved.
  3. PEDAL applied for a Monadnock Community Foundation grant, but was rejected.
  4. A Parent's Guide to Safer Bicycling was completed and published for use at Bicycle Safety clinics.
  5. PEDAL received eight letters of support from a wide variety of local organizations.
  6. BikesBelong (a grant-giving, nonprofit organization that promotes bicycle use) Grant was awarded to PEDAL and this allowed for the following accomplishments:
    1. A complete revision of PEDAL's website and the purchase of its own domain name.
    2. Design, development and programming of a database for PEDAL's unique set of information needs.
    3. A PEDAL Logo design contest was held and a winner chosen.
    4. A direct mail campaign was launched to invite local businesses to participate in PEDAL.
    5. 1500 8.5” X 11” posters were printed.
  7. PEDAL was selected by the Cheshire 4-H Council board to become a program of the Cheshire 4-H. (Due to time constraints on the part of Cheshire 4-H staff it was decided this association would end on December 31, 2005.)
  8. A High School student designed and served as the instructor for PEDAL's Fun Filled Adventures in Bicycle Safety. (This as the outcome of '2' above)

PEDAL: Mission Reloaded

The mission of PEDAL is to be “A bicycle-based program to help children stay healthy, to reduce air and water pollution and to increase local prosperity.” It addresses and links, through the bicycle, three important social problems.

  1. The health of children has been compromised by an environment that allows for, if not promotes, lack of exercise in the outdoors.
  2. Air and water pollution results from automobile traffic and manufacture; this pollution effects the health of children as well.
  3. The scourge of so-called “big box stores” has negative effects on local communities and the children that inhabit them.

These problems are well-documented, though they are not necessarily accepted by all Americans as serious.

PEDAL employs the bicycle to contribute to the solution to these problems.

  1. By getting children to bicycle more, more calories are burnt, immune systems are strengthened and well-being is improved.
  2. If children bicycle rather than being driven, there is less use of and need for the automobile.
  3. By focusing PEDAL's incentive system on locally owned businesses PEDAL promotes them.

The hub around which the PEDAL turns is the incentive system: for every mile a child bicycles, he or she receives scrip to be redeemed at those locally owned businesses and services that elect to participate in PEDAL. From this hub these spokes radiate:

  1. There are two types of "Miles" for which an accounting category is posted within the program i.e., each mile bicycled is accounted for in two ways:
    1. Community Miles: For every mile a child bicycles instead of taking the car, the child earns $0.55 scrip, which is redeemable at locally-owned participating businesses. This is the approximate cost to society of having a child be driven one mile instead of that child bicycling.
    2. Family Miles: For every mile a child bicycles instead of taking the car, the parent or guardian contributes $.45 cash. This is the approximate cost to a family of having a child be driven one mile instead of that child bicycling. Parents/Guardians keep track of miles bicycled and signs off on them. The money collected here goes to:
      1. Help pay for operational costs of the entire enterprise;
      2. Help pay for special projects and events to encourage bicycling by children
  2. There are three ways a locally-owned business may contribute to PEDAL: (For further details see PEDAL's website.)
    1. Write a check payable to PEDAL.
    2. Sign the Á La Carte agreement.
    3. Participate in the Computer Recycling for Child & Youth Bicycling program
  3. A locally-owned business may elect to either contribute to the Operations Fund, Events Fund or the Scrip Fund or all three: (For further details see PEDAL's website.)
    1. The Scrip Fund funds the PEDAL scrip program
    2. The Events Fund funds PEDAL's special events.
    3. The Operations Fund funds the daily operations of PEDAL

That was and is PEDAL in a nutshell.

The question then becomes does PEDAL's Mission need to be revised? What has changed since it was first conceived?

Unfortunately, from the perspective of our children's health, the problems it addressed have remained about the same. From the perspective of community economies, the importance of locally-owned businesses has received greater study and, this in turn, has helped some communities resist and overcome the national tide of big-box stores. From the perspective of parents/guardian's cost of living, gasoline prices have doubled since the founding of PEDAL.

Ultimately, PEDAL's mission remains intact and relevant (for better or for worse). The question than becomes: does its implementation require revision? This is in part what will be discussed in the next section.

How the Mission Can be Implemented

Many good ideas have been maimed or killed by bad execution. Conversely, many bad ideas have been kept alive by good execution. What is the case for PEDAL?

PEDAL has received good publicity over the three years it has been in existence. It has received the verbal and written support of many diverse organizations. It has applied for three grants and been approved for two. It has a well-received website and its operating infrastructure is well-defined and in place. And it established itself as a program of a major service and education organization (which, as mentioned earlier, is no longer the case).

Yet, it has not reached its stride despite all these positive developments. I thought with the awarding of the BikesBelong grant PEDAL would have been much farther along than it is. But as every comedian, entrepreneur and general knows, timing is everything. The BikesBelong grant enabled a well-designed publicity campaign, but due to many missteps in synchronizing the time-dependent phases of that campaign, the effectiveness of the campaign was greatly degraded.

PEDAL, of course, cannot operate without a critical mass of children and without a critical mass of locally owned businesses. My calculations show that PEDAL must secure a minimum of 15 children and 10 businesses to achieve that critical mass. PEDAL now has the systems and resources in place to support that number and more.

So, with the determination that the PEDAL mission does not need to be revised, how do we insure that it is implemented and realized in 2007? The main goals for 2007 should be to attain that critical mass of children and businesses. Given this, we are looking at a recruitment campaign. There are many ways to implement a recruitment campaign and in what follows I discuss some of them. (I discuss the campaigns for children and for business separately but, it is important to note that they must happen simultaneously as neither has greater weight in the realization of the PEDAL mission.)

Businesses

There are a number of ways to reach out to locally owned business: direct mail; newspaper, radio, web and TV Public Service Announcements; partnering with local chambers of commerce; door-to-door cold calling; hold a luncheon “Horse & Pony”; partnering with Business for Social Responsibility's local chapters. These can be done separately or in concert with one another.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is a numbers game. A good response rate is 1% of the mailing list. This would imply a list of 1000 businesses to recruit 10 businesses. The list itself would have to be targeted: locally owned businesses and organizations that would have products and services of interest to children or be broken up according to fund types (see above). It would require purchasing from the USPS a First Class Bulk Mail permit, printing the materials and stuffing envelopes.

Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements(PSA)

This would require finding a list of those media that offer PSA's, writing the PSA and sending it to each media outlet (that services the targeted demographic) either by fax, letter or email. The subject of the PSA could be the launch of the business recruitment campaign or a PEDAL Information Meeting for these same businesses.

Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce

PEDAL already is known to the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce and has received a letter of support from its President. With a small portion of the BikesBelong grant we were able to buy the Chamber's mailing list and send out a direct mail appeal to their members. The list was not a filtered list so many of the addresses were not relevant to PEDAL. This mailing netted $200 for PEDAL.

Whether we would purchase their mailing list again is an open question. What could be done is to see if a PEDAL Information Meeting (with refreshments and literature about PEDAL) could be held in collaboration with the Chamber.

Door-to-Door Cold Calling

It might be worthwhile to create promotional materials that adult PEDAL People could take with them when they visited a locally-owned business to discuss with them the PEDAL program. Because a business owner does not have much time to speak with anyone during the day, the materials created would be self-explanatory with contact information supplied. Young PEDAL People between the ages of 16 and 18 could also participate and in this way target businesses and organizations that supply products and services of direct interest to them. If need be, incentives could be designed to help spark their interest in this task.

Hold a Luncheon “Horse & Pony”

A series of Luncheons held in Walpole, Bellows Falls, Westmoreland, and Alstead to which locally owned businesses would be invited to hear about PEDAL. PEDAL coordinators would try to get free or inexpensive places to hold the luncheon and the luncheon served would be supplied by caterers or restaurants who want exposure for their culinary delights for free or at reduced rates or who see the value of PEDAL and, perhaps, would be willing to do so for free or at reduced rates.

Partnering with Businesses for Social Responsibility's local chapters

It is clear that PEDAL as currently configured should be of interest to members of Businesses for Social Responsibility. Perhaps, Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility could be contacted to help spread the word among its members or, perhaps, PEDAL could purchase its mailing list and do the spreading itself or be a presenter at its annual meeting.

Children

There are a number of ways to reach out to children and their parents: Direct Mail; Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements; the Public Schools' newsletters, websites and announcement channels; PEDAL sponsored Bicycle Safety and Basic Bicycle Mechanics courses; partnering with children health organizations; partnering with local bicycle organizations and stores.

Direct Mail

This would utilize the USPS's service of dropping a PEDAL promotional card in every mailbox. Basically the card would offer a few explanatory hooks and then direct them to PEDAL's website.

Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements

This would require finding a list of those media that offer PSA's., writing the PSA and sending it to each media outlet that services the targeted demographic either by fax, letter or email. The subject of the PSA could be the launch of the children recruitment campaign or an PEDAL Information Meeting for parents and children.

The Public Schools' Newsletters, Websites and Announcement Channels

Schools in the past have been OK with this when PEDAL used this method to announce Bicycle Safety Courses as long as it says somewhere “This is not a school-sponsored event.” PEDAL has about 1,000 8.5” X 11” posters that could be used for this purpose. This could be passed out to the Public School children throughout the area. However, as anyone who has or had children in the Public School system, this is NOT the most reliable way to get information to Parents. But it is a relatively inexpensive way to do it.

The local public schools have various media to inform the Parents of their students about what is happening at their schools. PEDAL could contact the person who prepares for these announcements to include a brief description of PEDAL and then refer them to PEDAL's website. It also would not hurt to have a Bicycle Safety or Basic Bicycle Mechanics Course being offered at their school when this is done.

PEDAL sponsored Bicycle Safety and Basic Bicycle Mechanics Courses

It might be worthwhile to employ PEDAL-sponsored Bicycle Safety and Basic Bicycle Mechanics Courses throughout the targeted area to attract Parents and Children who might already be predisposed to listening about PEDAL. Thus a packet of materials about PEDAL, including the A Parent's Guide to Safer Bicycling booklet, would be available at these events. Of course, these courses would have to be tailored for a particular age group and there would be events, games, refreshments and awards that also would be tailored for each age group.

Partnering with Children's Health Organizations

PEDAL has not done enough to involve children's health organizations. For example, in conversations with me, Dr. Robert Cochran of the Hitchcock Clinic has strongly endorsed PEDAL, though he and I have not gone much farther than that. Working with such groups, PEDAL could participate in Children's Exercise Fairs put on by such organizations. These organizations might be interested in helping to bring about additional Bicycle Safety courses. At other PEDAL events, they may be willing to help distribute free or reduced-cost bicycle helmets. Finally, through their community outreach departments they could, financially and through in-kind support, contribute to PEDAL

Partnering with Local Bicycle Organizations and Stores

PEDAL has already established a relationship with Norm's Ski & Bike Shop in Keene, NH. There is no reason why PEDAL brochures could not be left at other area bicycle stores, if allowed to do so. PEDAL has already been in contact with some of the bicycle organizations throughout New England and their response to the PEDAL idea has been always enthusiastic. However, the clear synergies between PEDAL and these other organizations has never been tapped. Further, there are more organizations to be contacted. There is much prospecting to be done here that has not been done.

Though PEDAL is not about bicycling as a competitive sport (but as a tool for community betterment), there is no reason why it can not show up at such events to peddle PEDAL. Additionally, it can join or lead other organizations in developing bicycle events and fairs for our region and, thereby, increase PEDAL's profile in the area.

Resources Needed for Mission Implementation

As one can see, there is no shortage of methods by which PEDAL can increase its children and locally-owned business participants in 2007. The limiting reagent in this chemistry is, of course, resources. Each one of these methods require resources to a greater or lesser degree and to implement all of them would require resources greater than PEDAL currently has available. Therefore, I have created a summary table of resources needed for each one of the methods discussed above. It is important to note the following before reviewing the table:

  1. The calculations for the values found in the summary table are not included here, but in the spreadsheet that produced them. This spreadsheet is available upon request.
  2. The goal in calculating resources remains 15 children and 10 businesses.
  3. Though it would be only natural to expect that some mix of these methods, working in concert, would be more successful than each operating separately, for the purpose of the table the indicated resources needed are based on each method being undertaken separately. This allows us to see which ones offer the greater return on investment.
  4. In any prospectus, assumptions are made. The last column lists the major ones.
  5. VT&T's office space, office equipment and personnel are donated throughout.

METHOD

PEOPLE

TIME

MONEY

ASSUMPTIONS/COMMENTS

Businesses:


Direct Mail

1

±25 hrs

$520.00

  1. Purchase of bulk mail permit and of targeted mailing list.
  2. Cost of bulk mailing of 1,000 pieces & printing of 1,000 pieces
  3. 1% response rate.

Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements(PSA)

1

±30 hrs

$50.00

  1. To achieve above goals, assume 10 such releases over a one year period
  2. There may be some cost due to lack of email addresses or fax #.

Partnering with local Chambers of Commerce

1

±20 hrs

$50.00

  1. Development and maintenance of these relationships.
  2. Includes mileage for travel.

Door-to-Door Cold Calling

5 – 10

±3 hrs

$75.00

  1. This includes the printing of the business brochure for this purpose.
  2. It does not include costs for distribution as this is done under routine visits to businesses.

Hold a Luncheon “Horse & Pony”

3

±40 hrs

$525.00

  1. Promotional materials of same.
  2. Refreshments and rental of space at reduced rates.
  3. Organizing and presentation materials.

Partnering with Businesses for Social Responsibility's local chapters

1

±2 hrs

$50.00

  1. Development and maintenance's of these relationships.
  2. Includes mileage for travel.

Children:


Direct Mail

1

±30 hrs

$650.00

  1. Purchase of carrier-enhanced bulk mail permit .
  2. Cost of printing and bulk-mailing 10,000 pieces.
  3. 0.1% response rate. (Smaller response rate due to bulk mail method)

Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements

1

±30 hrs

$50.00

  1. To achieve the above goals, assume 10 such releases over a one year. period
  2. There may be some cost due to lack of email addresses or fax #.

The Public Schools' Newsletters, Websites and Announcement Channels

1

±15 hrs

$60.00

  1. Printing of an additional 1,000 more flyers.
  2. Includes mileage for travel.

PEDAL Sponsored Bicycle Safety and Basic Bicycle Mechanics Courses

4

±70 hrs

$1500.00

  1. The costs and time are based on the Budget for the Community Youth Grant that PEDAL earlier had received.
  2. The basic bicycle mechanics course is held in conjunction with the bicycle safety course.

Partnering with Children's Health Organizations

1

±2 hrs

$55.00

  1. Initiation, development and maintenance's of these relationships.
  2. Includes mileage for travel.

Partnering with Local Bicycle Organizations and Stores

1

±12 hrs

$95.00

  1. Printing of PEDAL brochure for mailing.
  2. First class postage for 50 addresses.
  3. Includes mileage for travel.

Next Steps

It is clear from this table that for an organization such as PEDAL the best bang for the buck is any of the above methods except for Direct Mail (for both class of participants); and, in the case of “Children,” the PEDAL Sponsored Bicycle Safety and Basic Bicycle Mechanics Courses and in the case of “Businesses,” the Hold a Luncheon “Horse & Pony.” These exceptions, of course, could be done at a later time.

What has not been discussed thus far is applying for further grants. As grants usually require a long lead time, it is unlikely that it would be worth the effort to apply with the idea that funds would be forthcoming for 2007. This does not mean that PEDAL could not be researching and applying for grants during this period, however.

We are then left with the next steps for PEDAL in 2007. Here they are.

  1. A meeting will be held in January 2007 to discuss this report and other matters as they arise. At this meeting, it is hoped that we will have in attendance some of the old guard as well as some new faces. The Door-to-Door Cold Calling business information package will be available to give to meeting participants for them to distribute to locally owned business they will visit. An agenda will be made available at the meeting.
  2. This meeting will be the first use of Newspaper, Radio, Web and TV Public Service Announcements(PSA) for both “Children” and “Businesses” in 2007. This PSA will be released two weeks before the meeting. (This promotion mode also will include Press Releases about PEDAL developments.)
  3. PEDAL's relationship with the Great Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce should be resuscitated. This action would be taken, not to buy their mailing list, but to maintain an active and good relationship with them.
  4. Dr. Robert Cochran and I will have a meeting before February 2007 and from it I expect a more robust Partnering with Children's Health Organizations to occur.
  5. We will need to begin to involve the Public Schools' Newsletters, Websites and Announcement Channels to get the word out about PEDAL to children and their parents. I expect this will begin to happen in March of 2007.
  6. The process of Partnering with Local Bicycle Organizations and Stores will begin as soon as a mailing list is compiled of these organizations. It also would involve the simple matter of leaving PEDAL brochures/flyers at bicycle stores' locations throughout the area. In this letter, a region-wide bicycle-centered Fair and Festival could be discussed. It also could be expanded to a larger theme of Alternative Transportation. (New Hampshire's Department of Transportation is working on a 10- to 20- year plan presently.)
  7. Partnering with Businesses for Social Responsibility's local chapters will begin in Vermont even though PEDAL is based in New Hampshire. Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility is very active and should be responsive to the PEDAL idea. Since PEDAL includes Bellow Falls, in its targeted area, there is a natural connection here.
  8. Obviously, if PEDAL is to apply for grants, it either must apply for 501(c)3 status or piggyback on an organization that already has it. The application for 501(c)3 status can be a relatively expensive and lengthy process and this argues for PEDAL to piggyback on another organization. On the other hand, PEDAL's experience with piggybacking has not been the best thus far. I await further wisdom about which way to go.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude this report with what I see as the key benefits of PEDAL and bicycling in general for children and their families when a child bicycles rather than being driven somewhere. This does not include the ecological economic benefits to families, communities and the planet. These, however, are discussed at PEDAL's website.

First, bicycling nurtures self-reliance and a sense of adventure. A child on a bicycle has only himself or herself to rely on to navigate through the forces of wind, friction and gravity in getting from one point to another. The child, too, is empowered by the bicycle to undertake self-discovery and self-direction in ways and with means not often encountered in contemporary society. The child is a driver of himself or herself as a bicyclist and must manage that task and the risk associated with it rather than having them managed for him or her. Independence and freedom are shown to be directly proportional to maturity and responsibility, respectively.

Second, bicycling burns off excess energy that might otherwise find less constructive outlets. In a time when technological culture conspires to thrust children into environments that limit physical activity, the bicycle offers an escape into physical adventure by which youthful energy may be channeled in beneficial ways and excess calories oxidized. Additionally, bicycling offers this opportunity in a way that can be incorporated into the child's daily life.

Third, unlike many sports for children, the bicycle adjusts to the child. Once a child learns to ride a bicycle that child will immediately become a bicyclist. And each new ride the child takes can become an event of accomplishment and celebration, as the child safely bicycles one foot more, one yard more, one mile more than he or she did before. Eventually, strength, skill and stamina increase to a level at which a union, a communion of mind, body and bicycle is achieved. The child experiences a feeling of rapture and release; there is no mountain he or she can not climb, no obstacle that can not be overcome.

Fourth, with a good course in bicycle safety, bicycling can make a child a better and more responsible future car driver. A bicyclist is obligated to follow the same rules of the road as a motorist. Thus a bicycle safety course will alert the bicyclist to many of the same road signs and situations the child will encounter in the future as a car driver. It is hoped, of course, that the child, when he becomes an adult, will eschew driving as much as possible, but when he or she does have to drive, he or she will do it more safely and more responsibly.

Fifth, bicycling —with a proper course in bicycle mechanics and repair— can encourage a healthy respect and care for things mechanical. Compared to a car, a road bicycle is relatively simple to maintain and repair. Caring for the bicycle can teach the virtues of planning, thoroughness, method, orderliness, patience and perseverance. It also can instill in a child a sense of what you get (sometime more, sometimes less) is proportional to what you give. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of well-tuned bicycle as it travels the road swiftly and noiselessly. Sweeter still is the feeling that that sweet sound is the result of one's own efforts. Additionally, for those so inclined, the bicycle can easily become a teachable moment, not only about many of the laws of physics and engineering that the bicycle demonstrates, but about the structure, function and maintenance of the human body.

Sixth, though I won't go so far as to claim that families that bicycle together stay together, I will point out that bicycling together as a family is one way among some others that the cohesion of families may be strengthened. For bicycling together, if it is perceived and experienced as a daily adventure, allows both parents and children to encounter and explore similar joyful and stressful experiences, share reactions to them and, from this, learn more about each other and about oneself.

Seventh, bicycling often places the child, as he or she journeys from point a to point b, in closer proximity to forces, feelings and fragrances the child would not encounter, if he or she was being driven in a car. The child experiences a greater portion of the natural order —his or her body's bequest and inheritance— and in this the child will experience a greater appreciation and understanding of it.