Thursday, April 24, 2008

It takes more than good ideas to build stuff

In my various bike-related groups and local activities I sometimes run into the "idea guys."

"Idea guys" are always guys. They are the ones that tell me "what Spokane needs" when it comes to bike stuff: races, bike lanes, no bike lanes, bike swaps, velodrome, bike education for drivers, bike education for cyclists, etc etc.

There's nothing wrong with ideas, but what makes an "idea guy" different than a person just making a wish, is that the "idea guy" is typically indignant and angry and sort of expecting me, or some organization I'm involved with to take this idea and run with it. The "idea guy" has done his part by simply supplying his brilliant idea... which usually ends with an overly-simplistic plan to fund the idea: "and just sell t-shirts to cover the cost..." or something similar.

I always make a point of responding with a specific action the "idea guy" can do: "Bike races are a great idea, did you know there is an effort at the moment to build a bike event in the fall? All the same issues that will need to be worked out for a bike race (closing streets, contacting/working with vendors and sponsors, etc) are happening now with this event: by helping with this event, you'll get great experience and contacts for giving races a shot... Every one wins!"

That pretty much sticks a fork in most idea guys.

The fact is, all great bike ideas take time and money.

On the time side: my personal opinion, is that bike-related volunteer time is pretty extended at the moment. Maybe I just feel that way because I'm involved in a few different bike events and it's always a challenge to find volunteers.

On the money side: things are getting a bit tight. The corporate sponsors that are typically the targets for money are tightening their belts a bit for whatever downturn/recession/whatever-you-want-to-call-it that is coming down the road at us.

If we want bike stuff, especially bike events, we must build it and pay for it.

If you've got time, the best place you can help in the next month is probably with Bike to Work.

If you've got money, the best place you can help is to throw into SpokeFest. If we can pull off year one of SpokeFest, we can do a better second year... then it builds from there. Bloomsday had 1300 runners the first year.

Click the SpokeFest Logo above to go to their site. Become a founder for $25. If that's not easy money to spend, SpokeFest will also need a army of volunteers to make it go too. Reliable volunteers are worth their weight in cash.


Anonymous said...

Your absolutely right any one can have an idea, taking action is the hard part, but if we dont start we cant finish!!!

Anonymous said...

Spokefest looks really cool John. And definitely a good way to spend the last day of my 34th year.

I rode the Centennial Trail half of the route once last year and really enjoyed it. I didn't realize what a nice loop it makes if you continue across the 7 mile bridge though so I doubled back once I got there.

Speaking of volunteering for bike things, I need to start start coming to the p2p garage nights again (hopefully next week). What are you guys working on now that you cleared out all those bikes last weekend?

EvilElf said...

Right on! Another thing that I've found is that if you have some projects going, you are the guy the idea guys want to talk to! Argghhhh!!!

Todd Dunfield said...

Ahhhh, the "idea guy" strikes again! I know what you're talking about!

Hank Greer said...

John is one of those people you can tell, "Well said and well done."

Michael said...

I'm in for $25 on Spokefest and I'm just a frequent visitor to Spokane.