One Street News

November 2012

Vol. 5, Issue 9

  1. GIFT IDEA: Buy a Ugandan Woman a Bike!
  2. Resources –
  3. Hot Topics – A Time for Planning, a Time for Action

GIFT IDEA: Buy a Ugandan Woman a Bike!

By: Sue Knaup, Executive Director

My next trip to Uganda is now set for three weeks in January when I will work with the leaders of Ride 4 a Woman (R4W). They founded R4W to counter the Ugandan culture that discourages women from riding a bicycle or repairing anything. Even though most Ugandan women and many men disagree with this taboo, the result is that few women have even tried to ride a bicycle or use mechanics’ tools.

My last trip in January 2011 only scratched the surface of R4W’s needs as they struggle to keep up with the enthusiasm of thousands of women in their area eager to learn mechanic skills and how to ride a bike. For this next trip, I have been working with the R4W leaders to plan a comprehensive train-the-trainer course where eight chosen women along with R4W staff members will learn advanced bicycle repair techniques over seven intensive days. Toward the end of my trip, they will put the call out to all the R4W members to come and learn bicycle riding and repair from these newly trained mechanics. This time we will be ready to serve hundreds of women!

Unfortunately, we have not raised enough money to buy a new bicycle for each of the graduates of the mechanic’s course as we had planned. You can help make this happen!

GIFT IDEA: Buy a Ugandan woman a bike! A donation of $100 will cover the cost of one bicycle for a R4W mechanic trainee. For each $100 you contribute toward one of these bikes, you will receive a special gift card via email thanking you for your donation. Simply note with your donation that you want your donation to go toward a bike(s) for these women. If you would like this gift card to be addressed to someone else as your gift to them, make sure to include their name(s) with your donation. You can then either forward them the emailed card or print it out for wrapping.

Read more about the trip and how to donate on our One Street to Uganda web page.

This opportunity has a tight schedule, though. I will need to receive your donation through One Street by the end of December in order for us to use it to purchase one of these bicycles in Uganda. A bicycle will open new opportunities for these women who spend much of each day walking and carrying enormous loads. Thank you in advance for helping to make this happen!

Resources – has been one of our favorite video resources for years. Not only can you find the latest videos on urban cycling successes, you’ll also find their StreetsBlog as well as their Job Board. While it mostly covers U.S. issues, there are often great resources posted from other parts of the world.

Hot Topics – A Time for Planning, a Time for Action

One common stumbling block we encounter when working with leaders of bicycle organizations is the confusion between planning and action. The harm of this confusion starts at the very beginning of a new campaign or program. Some leaders rightfully want to provide ample opportunities for their members and partners to offer input for their programs, but lose sight of when to shift into action. Others have had bad experiences with open discussions and choose to avoid them entirely.

A proper balance can be difficult to find, especially for local organizations that can only thrive when many, many people feel personally involved in the success of the organization. Offering their input at the start of a bicycle campaign or the launch of a new program can be a lasting point of pride that fuels their enthusiasm for the organization. Not only is this impossible when leaders take all actions alone, such leaders miss out on creative new ideas they could never develop by themselves. On the other hand, only the leaders of an organization will know which actions are best for the long-term health of the organization and so must have the ability to narrow choices before taking action.

The pitfalls of too much planning are just as dangerous as taking action without the input of your members and supporters. Holding meeting after meeting with endless discussions about action, but never taking action is guaranteed to lead your supporters into frustration. Worse, they might leave your organization forever and never tell you why (likely for fear of causing yet another meeting to discuss it).

Finding a balance requires precise communications regarding the different, yet complimentary characteristics of planning versus action. Start your planning process with a clear announcement about how it will unfold. Invite all your members, supporters and partners to participate in a set number of meetings (two or three are plenty) and state exactly when the planning stage will end.

Open each meeting by showing attendees where your organization is in the campaign or program process, where their input will be included, how that particular meeting will contribute, and when and how the leaders will move forward with their ideas. Use a timeline that includes the planning stage followed by the action stage and stick to it. Once that final meeting wraps up and the action work is once again in the hands of the organization’s leaders, send out frequent updates to everyone who contributed.

By understanding the difference between the planning and action stages of your next campaign or new program you will avoid the common pitfalls of either never moving past the planning stage or avoiding it completely. Your members and supporters will appreciate your leadership skills and will proudly look forward to contributing to your organization’s next big effort for increasing bicycling in your community.