How the Adventure Cycling Association Works

Mission of the Adventure Cycling Association

"I can tell you our mission in one sentence," says ACA media director Winona Bateman. "The Adventure Cycling Association inspires and empowers people to travel by bicycle"

[source: Bateman]. Basically, the ACA wants you to climb on your bike and ride, and the organization is busy making that ride more convenient, safer and more enjoyable. The ACA is active in several areas, each of which contributes to the mission.

Promoting bicycle tourism: Cars rule in the world. It just doesn't occur to most people to take a trip by bicycle. The Adventure Cycling Association is trying to change that thinking and to make life easier for those who choose to pedal for pleasure. The ACA hosts its own tours and encourages all types of bike tours.

The group also shows communities the economic benefits of welcoming bicyclists. A bicycle-friendly approach can mean more business for motels, bed-and-breakfast establishments and stores. The association points out how local businesses can supply the needs of touring bicyclists by providing access to bike tools, hot showers, bike racks outside stores and convenient food and water. Towns and villages on ACA routes can see a boost in business just by making these small, welcoming changes.

Advocating for bicycle-friendly laws and policies: Local, state and federal governmental agencies can play a big role in making life easier for bikers. Bike lanes, bike trails and designated highways for use by bikers all improve the options for the two-wheeled.

But budget cuts can reduce spending for bicycle facilities, and bikers need to keep the pressure on. The ACA collaborates with other organizations like America Bikes to lobby for pro-bicycling legislation and policies that help bikers. The ACA has worked closely with the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials to promote the U.S. Bicycle Route System, which officially designates roads across the country as bike routes. When completed, it will be the largest bicycle route system in the world [source: ACA]. In 2012, the association raised $50,000 through a social media blitz to finance the system [source: AASTO].

Providing a forum for the bicycle touring community: You're more likely to hop on your bike and ride if you know others are doing the same. The ACA, through its Web site and wide membership, has created a way for bikers to share information and make connections. The insights users share include the latest about great places to ride and about bottlenecks to avoid. Members discuss bike-friendly places to stay, sources of food and water, and bike repair shops along particular routes.

One feature of the community is the ability to connect with touring companions. The ACA website lets bicycle tourists search by region and by their touring plans to find a riding buddy [source: ACA Companions].

The ACA works to achieve its mission through ongoing programs. You'll read about these in the next section.