The Portland-based biking advocacy group that is transitioning into a biking-walking-transit advocacy group plans to unveil its proposed new name on Wednesday, Aug. 10.
It’ll happen at the organization’s annual members meeting, which will be 5:30 to 7:30 at Velo Cult Bike Shop, 1969 NE 42nd Avenue.
Bicycle Transportation Alliance Executive Director Rob Sadowsky said Monday that the organization’s board and staff will then ask members present for an up-or-down vote on the name proposal.
Because the BTA is a member-led nonprofit under Oregon law and section 501(c)3 of the federal tax code, the vote will be binding. State law requires two-thirds of members present to vote “yes.”
Sadowsky said he’s pretty confident that the new name will be approved.
“Those that show up create a quorum,” Sadowsky said. “If we can’t get 2/3 of people there excited about it, then what are we doing?”
The up-or-down vote will be binding. Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice.”
Sadowsky said the organization’s leaders are currently down to a “No. 1 choice” and a “No. 2 choice,” both of which are available as corporate names in the state of Oregon. He said an intellectual property lawyer is currently working pro bono to make sure the names aren’t under trademark somewhere else.
Why not announce the name ahead of time, or conduct a mail-in vote? Sadowsky said it’s to make sure nobody squats on the relevant URLs and social media handles while the organization is waiting to see if members approve.
“The No. 1 name right now would cost us $2,000 to buy,” he said.
He also said the BTA “may have a new logo for the annual meeting, if it is done in time.” If not, he said, the new logo will be unveiled at the BTA’s Alice Awards fundraiser Sept. 24.
Also at the members’ meeting, the BTA will recognize people for its annual volunteer awards:
• Rookie Volunteer of the Year
• Under the Radar
• Advocacy Volunteer of the Year
• Scott Lieuallen Award
• Volunteer of the Year
The BTA has some recent experience with brand transitions. Since 2014, it’s been using the name “Healthy Streets” and the URL ourhealthystreets.org to refer to “multimodal work that engage[s] partners in deep collaboration,” as Sadowsky put it in a February email. For example, the BTA’s Vision Zero traffic safety advocacy, the Active Transportation Summit event and the For Every Kid Coalition that has pushed for regional Safe Routes to School funding were all done under that sub-brand.
Once the name is changed, the BTA will also be wrapping more direct political work into its mission by forming a 501(c)4 organization, which is allowed to spend more money on political lobbying, and maybe subsequently a political action committee that could directly endorse candidates and raise money for them.
The BTA also plans to reorganize into a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 arm focused on political advocacy.
Sadowsky said there’s a possibility of merging with another existing PAC, but that he couldn’t legally discuss details because he’s employed by a c(3). That’s a good example of why the BTA wants to create a c(4), he said.
Terry Dublinski-Milton, a volunteer for Portland’s existing Bike Walk Vote PAC, wrote in an email “there is an ongoing conversation” about merging with the new BTA.
“No decision has been made at this time,” Dublinski-Milton said.
There are various other complications to having both a 501(c)3 arm, focused on education and organizing, and a 501(c)4 focused on political advocacy. For example, the BTA will need to recruit a separate board for each with no more than three shared members.
For the BTA’s existing (c)3, it isn’t currently planning to change its member-led structure that requires members to vote on board members, name changes and so forth.
Tomorrow, he said, BTA staff are traveling to Seattle to meet with the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes, two organizations that merged in December. Today, Cascade Bicycle Club is the name of the group’s (c)3, with Washington Bikes as the name of the group’s (c)4.
Sadowsky added that they’ll also meet with Rob Johnson, the former executive director of the Seattle-based multimodal Transportation Choices Coalition 501(c)3 organization. Johnson was elected to city council last year.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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