It's Time for the Conference on Wheels in Minnesota
By Joshua Houdek, Conservation Program Manager for the North Star Chapter.
Every September we host the Annual Conference on Wheels, a fun, unique, and educational bicycle tour outing with expert speakers at rest stops discussing land use, transportation, and other local environmental issues. The Conference allows us to engage the community in a unique way by combining an outing with a workshop. It's about 20 miles long at a relaxed speed with many rest stops. We invite and engage community members and leaders, decision makers, ally organizations, and other stakeholder groups. We include at least one action component in the event that all participants can take.
This year's Conference will take place September 17. Join us!
There are several benefits to the annual event. Besides gaining media attention, we engage members and attract new ones; we highlight issues for community members and decision makers; we enhance our local Outings program; and we generate hundreds of individual actions on an issue.
Formerly called the "Tour de Sprawl," the Conference on Wheels is in its 16th year! It regularly draws between 150 to 250 people, depending on the weather and the event's location.
Every year we change the route, which presents to us some logistical challenges. We prepare by finding a safe loop ride that integrates the important issues that we can talk about during each stop. We prepare by planning the event early and engaging local bike shops, bicycling groups, local law enforcement (if necessary), and community members.
This year's Conference on Wheels' theme is the Tour de Minneapolis. We plan to explore the No. 1 Bicycling City in America (Minneapolis, according to Bicycling Magazine). Educational rest stops will feature guest speakers discussing "Complete Streets" -– roads designed to be safe and accessible for all users, regardless of age or ability, including people walking, bicycling, using transit, or driving.
Because we are the Sierra Club, we frame the highlights of the ride by matching them with the Sierra Club's traditional motto:
- Explore on-street bicycle facilities and bike/pedestrian trails
- Enjoy local food, music, and zero waste
- Protect our existing parks and learn more about how to promote "Complete Streets" in your community
If you'd like to join us, click here to register!