Cyclists' Union is a volunteer based organization which does not rely on funds and donors, but rather on the abilities and willingness of its members. The 2000 strong membership base was formed using inventive social media strategies and attractive public actions. This model could serve as a cheap and sustainable advocacy model for civil society organizations around the globe.
In order to build a cycling-friendly city you need a movement. In the social network era you can easily and cheaply gather people around the idea on the social networks, ask them to provide information on their abilities and willingness to contribute and actively involve them in the movement. In a short period of time you then have a vocal and vibrant community that can influence decision makers.
The Cyclists' Union took exactly that path consisting of four steps:
* Step 1: Use (social) media to spark interest in your organization
* Step 2: Gather information on skills, abilities and willingness of your followers
* Step 3: Ask people to help based on the information gathered
* Step 4: Repeat
In a few months we had created the biggest and the most influential cycling-advocacy organization in the South-Eastern Europe. It has now gathered more "likes" on Facebook than all the major political parties in Croatia combined; it has created a first ever bicycle festival in the region; it has organized numerous Critical Mass rides; it has submitted dozens of propositions to the local government - and all that relying solely on volunteering and on the skills and abilities of its members.
While organizing cyclists on a volunteer basis can be time-consuming, the benefits are numerous precisely because cyclists are prone to identify themselves more easily with the movement, thereby facilitating a more active involvement.
Traditional NGOs even nowadays can play important role in turning cities into cycle friendly. However relying on funds, donors and traditional methods can make these organizations too small, too slow and too dependent to be able to answer the challenges adequately. In order to change the old-fashioned opinions that bicycles are old-fashioned, a massive and vocal support for the cycling-friendly policies is needed. Hence the term "union" in the name of our organization - even if workers' unions are in decline, we believe that the ideas of solidarity and mass actions still matter in achieving a positive social change.
Category: Advocacy and Social Projects