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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seems between the insurance issue, now the raised prices, chapters finding now with no insurance their funds are low, what is the bottom line?

Our group has not given up on IMBA yet, probably on account of still sorting out the mess with insurance.

I ask, based on part of our landowner agreement involves being a part of a larger organization.

If IMBA is no longer the "one", who is or should we just go it alone on a local level if possible?

PK
 

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Seems between the insurance issue, now the raised prices, chapters finding now with no insurance their funds are low, what is the bottom line?

Our group has not given up on IMBA yet, probably on account of still sorting out the mess with insurance.

I ask, based on part of our landowner agreement involves being a part of a larger organization.

If IMBA is no longer the "one", who is or should we just go it alone on a local level if possible?

PK
To answer the first question... no. No way. What other organization is going to speak for land access for MTB. Yes we could probably try locally but landmanagers where I live, mn, like to know we are biggest than just our club, Morc.

And correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Imba just start offering insurance a year or two ago? Or maybe that was just our club.... and you still had to pay it and split your dues... correct? I just attended our trail steward/dirt boss annual summit and they told us they had insurance. They said it only cost a little bit more and was double the coverage.... so I'm not sure
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
To answer the first question... no. No way. What other organization is going to speak for land access for MTB. Yes we could probably try locally but landmanagers where I live, mn, like to know we are biggest than just our club, Morc.

And correct me if I'm wrong, didn't Imba just start offering insurance a year or two ago? Or maybe that was just our club.... and you still had to pay it and split your dues... correct? I just attended our trail steward/dirt boss annual summit and they told us they had insurance. They said it only cost a little bit more and was double the coverage.... so I'm not sure
We have had IMBA affiliated insurance since 2006. Our group is a club, not a chapter. The money we take in is not distributed to IMBA other than club renewal.

Overall, IMBA directly has provided nothing, and we don't ask.

So in the interest of moving forward, without becoming a chapter, does anyone know options of other organizations or means to make it happen.

How is SORBA fairing with all this?

PK
 

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I believe sorba just hired a full time staffer with Imba, if that's the case can't see it as too negative. We did that this last year as well as two or three other clubs or chapters I guess...
I just remember our board saying it wasn't that big of a deal about the insurance for our club since we only had it a year or two and we went back to our old provider and got more insurance. I'm guessing it does negatively affect a lot of clubs from reading the last few threads on it. I wish them the best and hope it doesn't hurt them too bad. I think Imba will sort this out eventually.
I guess I just don't see another option for a national group to support MTB.
 

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IMBA will endure and still provide many of the things people value. In the short term, though, many will look a little closer at the deal.
 

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trail rat
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This remains to be see. I suspect upper level staff will change over this insurance um, "issue", starting at the top. What happens next with a new head of IMBA is unknown. IMBA has been really quiet for some time, except for the Twitter / Facebook fluff.
 

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Tre1nt
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IMBA's going to hang in there for a bit longer.

What with the chapter program continuing to expand; a very busy calendar of Trail Solutions projects; what looks to be the biggest and most fun world summit gathering yet on tap this summer; support from individuals, supporting organizations and companies at an all-time high; full-time professional advocates at work in nine regions across the U.S.; IMBA Europe gaining momentum quickly; a new book about bike parks on the way; an exciting mapping program; and hundreds of affiliated chapters, clubs and volunteers leading more than 700,000 hours of volunteer stewardship efforts last year, we have not yet thrown in the towel.

But you can continue to focus exclusively on the insurance issue if you like.
 

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Hey -- look! More good news.

https://www.imba.com/news/oc-parks

In California, Orange County Parks (OC Parks) has been selected to receive up to $10,000 in assistance through IMBA's Bike Park Initiative to develop new bike facilities at Ted Craig Regional Park, in Fullerton. The facility will also receive a further $10,000 through a matching grant from OC Parks. Along with OC Parks, key partners in this initiative includes local IMBA chapter SHARE-MTB and Jax Bicycle Center, a chain of eight bicycle retail outlets throughout southern California.

“OC Parks is very pleased to continue our collaboration with IMBA on planning and development of biking amenities in Orange County's regional parks with this design effort," said Stacy Blackwood, Director Orange County Parks. "Our community partners, including SHARE Mountain Bike Club, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Irvine Ranch Conservancy, and many others, are engaged with OC Parks in the creation of great biking experiences in our parks and wildlands, balanced with careful stewardship of those natural resources. We anticipate that projects like this will encourage riders of all ages to enjoy healthy activity outdoors and engender a lasting appreciation for the open spaces of Orange County. “

The Bike Park Initiative is an IMBA-led project designed to foster the development of world-class bike park facilities across the United States. Developed in partnership with the SRAM Cycling Fund and People for Bikes, the Bike Park Initiative identifies promising local government agencies and provides them with strategic and technical assistance to create outstanding bike parks, including progressive jump lines, skills areas and pumptracks.

The Bike Park Initiative will provide up to $10,000 in planning and design services, which will be matched by cash from OC Parks. The total of $20,000 will be used to create a detailed site plan and report for the proposed bike park at Ted Craig Regional Park. The funds will also be used to advise the applicant on the unique aspects of constructing and maintaining a bike park, including working with the local mountain bicycling community. The intent of this effort is to get high-quality projects initiated through professional design assistance so that the applicant, in conjunction with IMBA’s advocacy network, can quickly proceed through permitting and toward construction. Ted Craig Regional Park is one of four sites that were assessed by Trail Specialists from the IMBA Trail Solutions program in fall 2013, with OC Parks staff narrowing in on this location for a more detailed design.

“We have been working collaboratively on this project for over 18 months, including meetings with OC Parks staff, Dave Hanson from Jax Bicycle Center, and board members from SHARE-MTB," said Patrick Kell, IMBA Southwest Regional Director. "Dave at Jax Bicycle Center has been pivotal in this process and was the catalyst who initially pulled all of the stakeholders together. Also, OC Parks staff have been very receptive to this concept, and thoughtful in their management of public recreational land, and SHARE-MTB have set a great example of how volunteer mountain bike advocates should work cooperatively with land managers. This process exemplifies quality mountain bike advocacy in action. We are very excited to see this project move forward and see a lot of potential for this and other bike parks within easy reach of such huge populations.”
 

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Good question, insguy2 -- I haven't heard if that review is complete. I'll see what I can find out and share whatever I can.
 

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Even with the laundry list of IMBA activities, insurance may be the most important fundamental factor in the execution of a clubs advocacy mission. In many cases it stops them dead. And the short warning from IMBA...well enough of that. However, "But you can continue to focus exclusively on the insurance issue if you like" seems a like spin, or sarcasm as worst. It is, at least, dismissive of concerns and issues that are very real to a great many people.

It smacks of an desire to "move forward" and "get beyond this" which I have seen Presidents and Businesses try and do when they want to get out of the spot light. And it is usually done before the time is right. It challenges a spirit of support which may be the hardest hit that IMBA takes in this whole event. It is worse than a no-apology apology.

Mark, you should have stopped while you were ahead. This will pass when it passes.

The IMBA Insurance Collapse revealed many things. Firstly, it reveals what a value the insurance program feature was both as a financial bargain (which turned out to be unsustainable), and a convenience (which was never understood.) The financial value was expressed when clubs had to go out and price the coverage themselves. The convenience value was demonstrated by the thousands of hours different clubs went through to find, vet, and select other providers. There was a steep learning curve and bit of reinventing the wheel, in a lot of different situations, for many, many folks. Neither of these was appreciated until coverage disappeared.

Second, it revealed how IMBA manages failures (and this was a failure) in their system. I think it unrealistic to expect that such a group be prepared for such a contingency. Yet there are features which might want some attention. There are bad tastes in mouths, to be sure. That said, I am sure that IMBA will value this experience determine policies which reflect what they have learned about their organization and the values of their subsidiary groups when push comes to shove. That too could not be revealed until things failed.

We are all in this together. And while we value all of our mountain bike friends, the folks who show up to do the real front-lines work deserve our best efforts. That goes for everyone.
 

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Mike, naming a thread "Is IMBA pretty much a dead horse at this point" invites a testy response.

Yes, there are lessons learned. But insurance never has been or will be the defining mission for IMBA.

When you write this:

"We are all in this together. And while we value all of our mountain bike friends, the folks who show up to do the real front-lines work deserve our best efforts. That goes for everyone."

... I think you know that the people who work at IMBA are also "on the front lines" and consider ourselves part of the "we are all in this together" collective. That's not the vibe that I got, however, from reading the thread's title and the post that went along with it. If my reply was a bit huffy, please pardon me.
 

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Mike, naming a thread "Is IMBA pretty much a dead horse at this point" invites a testy response.

Yes, there are lessons learned. But insurance never has been or will be the defining mission for IMBA.

When you write this:

"We are all in this together. And while we value all of our mountain bike friends, the folks who show up to do the real front-lines work deserve our best efforts. That goes for everyone."

... I think you know that the people who work at IMBA are also "on the front lines" and consider ourselves part of the "we are all in this together" collective. That's not the vibe that I got, however, from reading the thread's title and the post that went along with it. If my reply was a bit huffy, please pardon me.

I think that the IP's question is a good one; a question about context from someone who may not know a great deal about how things work. That's why you ask the question.

Mark; huffy is real. And so is the dynamic of the community and it needs to play out and be hammered out. It is only our respect for each other, whether we agree or not, that makes the result have real value. "We are all in this together" means just what is says.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wanted to step back in and clarify something. Prior to the current situation, I was in discussions with IMBA about the possibility of a very large trail solutions project with a respectable amount of good exposure and value.

Since the situation trickled with insurance, then blame by some onto landmanagers for dealing in what this forum deems as unrealistic agreements where the landmanagers are held harmless (but in 2006 it was take it or leave it).

So now as still an IMBA club, not chapter, which we declined many years ago as the value gained was a fraction of the value realized. We have heard the words about Chapter, Chapter, Chapter, during discussions about the new project.

Having been an early adopter of one of the more poorly worded contracts between the landmanager, we are now doing the homework to get this changed because the insurance debacle opened that door.

I presented the question in the OP to gather facts about what other groups are doing. We sit in waiting to see where the possible new agreement leads, whether it will require outside insurance or not, our quotes on insurance have been marginally ok, but restrictive. As for the project, if IMBA is squirming, myself and others would prefer to avoid partnering with them for several reasons. First, if IMBA calls it quits part way in, we are too small to complete the job alone. Second if IMBA fails, the monies raised may never be recouped, and we are not talking a small venture here.

We as a club, have cancelled all trail maintenance on account of insurance, but was legally obligated to stop since our contract mandated insurance.

Our contract also had an item stating we be a part of IMBA. We want to change this to something such as a large nationally recognized organization. Thus the reason I had asked about other options.

Overall, in the beginning, we had McKay insurance. They were, in our opinion good to us, and explained each and every question during the years we had them. We even bought additional coverage which may prove a good move.

The value we got from IMBA had several tiers, first was the tie to a national organization. Second was they did make the insurance part very difficut to not be a part of, though it did change as time passed, until the end. Third was the ability to present IMBA published data as a form of approved data when requests for trail changes were submitted.

I want to lean back towards the discussions we were in with IMBA prior to the insurance situation. They were proposing a very expensive informal estimate. We asked to proceed in what efforts would be required from us, IMBA and other groups (the big money) to blend this together and move forward. As of today, without us cutting off the deal, we have had no replys or responses from IMBA since several weeks prior to the insurance failure. Again, another reason to ask an outside source over calling IMBA to hear all is well. What is going on with other groups? Simple question to help us focus better.

Our group has worked closely to see each small crisis and make plans for a brighter and stronger future. We are just looking at option if IMBA should or should not be a part of our future. And if not, who do we partner with?

PK
 

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IMBA may be asking the same questions about your Club. You want them to commit resources and staff time towards a big project, yet you are not interested in becoming a chapter. Those of us how have become Chapters are helping to fund the staff whose time you want to use. If IMBA has similar opportunities with its chapters and has limited resources to support every possible project, why would they support your project over that of a Chapter.

HMBA is a chapter. We just partnered with IMBA to hire a paid staff person that is split between HMBA and the IMBA region. This is already very helpful to our organization and important to ensure our long term sustainability.

I am in communication with our IMBA rep multiple times per week. If there is some thing we need from IMBA he or our executive director make it happen.

Keep in mind that the IMBA regional program and the Chapter 60/40 split came about because many clubs were asking for dedicated State/Regional Staff. Those staff cost money and the source of that budget is partly from the 60/40 split. We are perfectly fine with our 40% covering insurance, in return for a Regional Director and then infrastructure to hire a staff person (cost split between HMBA and IMBA).

Keep in mind that you get to keep 100% of donations. So put a little effort on getting your members to donate directly to your Chapter. Put on a couple fund raising events.

IMBA just like every local group, can't possible make everyone happy. Your club likely has local riders who are dissenters for your club. We just did a membership survey and had riders upset that we don't build enough expert trails, and others upset that we don't build more beginner trails. IMBA has to provide a model that will support the majority of local organizations. There will be some that for local/political/philosophical reasons don't work well with IMBA. There are organizations who have gone their own route and been successful.

Also like local clubs, IMBA isn't perfect. I doubt there are many Chapter leaders who are not a upset about how insurance played out, and I expect to that there will be a lot of discussion about Insurance at the IMBA Summit.

This doesn't mean that our chapter or other chapters don't see areas where IMBA can improve. We work with our Regional Directors and will be at the IMBA summit and work to drive the changes needed for IMBA to better serve our chapters.
 

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Options:

In the trail consulting/design/construction world there are 80+ member companies within the Professional Trail Builders Association. trailbuilders.org We work as advocates regularly to help get projects running and off the ground and have a number of people that specialize in the mountain bike trail market. In fact many of them have been used as IMBA subcontractors to create some of the largest and most noted trail systems in the country as well as operated outside the realm of IMBA entirely.

Park City, Utah is a great example of how a community can embrace mountain bikers and see benefits to everyone. My company, Alpine Trails, and the local non profits including Mountain Trails Foundation worked closely with Park City riders and community leaders to make this happen.

Funding/Large Scale Support: Utilizing local community foundations tends to work well as you have support from the "Community At-large". These organizations are typically made up of some of the most influential folks around. There are also great community health foundations that can quickly support healthy outdoor initiatives.

National Advocacy: There are other organizations out there quietly doing great work. Jenn Dice who helped create some of the large scale national relationships with folks in Washington is now working for Bikes Belong/People for Bikes and I'm sure would welcome any support to that organization to get more access to all types of riding. I have utilized some of their grant programs and other assets to create bike parks and skills areas around the country. There are also other national groups that support the activities we love like: League of American Bicyclists, Safe Routes to School, The Active Transportation Alliance.

There are also great State Organizations, which is the decision level for a lot of major land management agencies. Organizations like Trails Utah, the Texas Bicycle Coalition and Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Many of these organizations are multi tiered and do more than JUST mountain bike advocacy which can help leverage land managers as well because it shows a more diverse group interested in the project.

I hope these suggestions help you with your projects and club health. Also as someone who has used McKay for a number of Insurance needs I would recommend everyone give them a call for your insurance needs as well.

Ben
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Indytrekracer and redriderbb

Thanks for your input.

Inregards to how indytrekracer is involved so deep with IMBA and to be explained that IMBA may have no interest in this project may be correct, but is highly unlikely. This is not small dollar project, has ties to many other for profit organizaations, and has some basis as not your average here it is MTB trail. The place does have history within the mtb community. IMBA was not afraid to send a price for just a quote with many zeros at the end.

In regards to how many other trail groups are there, IMBA trail solutions got first shot based on many factors. Lowest price was not one. Also, IMBA does bring a name to the table, making some hoops possibly easier to jump through.

As for donations, advocacy and so forth. We do just fine as is.

At this point, becoming an IMBA chapter would be a hard sell after some of the recent stuff we are dealing with.

So again, is there another organization available?

PK
 

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The bike advocacy universe is a small one. Your options were spelled out to you. IMBA may have its limitations and imperfections, but it's the best we have when it comes to the work we do.

The help you receive (in any situation) often depends on the questions you ask, and the way you ask them. Building relationships with the people who are in a position to help directly, or advocate for you at a higher level does wonders, too. What kinds of relationships do you have with the IMBA staffers that might help (local/regional/national)? You say they haven't provided help, so you don't ask. How is anyone going to provide help if they don't know what you need in the first place? These questions really don't matter if you're a club/chapter.

It looks to me like the crappy contract you're in is an entirely different situation. When it comes down to it, though, in 2006, everybody took what they were offered or they got nothing. In 2014, things are different and now as a user group, we have more power to negotiate better deals, and many clubs are doing just that. If IMBA does nothing else for you except provide you with additional legitimacy/power through association, enabling you to negotiate a better deal with the land manager, is it not worth it? Yeah, that's a difficult benefit to quantify, but if it's what you need most....?
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks NateHawk, post as you see fit, but the fact is, this is not really about our agreement with the landmanager, nor is it about insurance. The bottom line here is, we have presented a project to IMBA that will generate a lot of money and good PR for IMBA. This was presented prior to the ending of the insurance. They were interested, but always slow to get back and even required many attempts at recontacting them to keep the ball rolling.

Now, they are past the insurance concern, yet we have no replies from IMBA again.

We have done the steps we needed up to this point. IMBA is not providing a good feeling to us that they are capable or up to the task.

So as I started this topic, are they a dead horse and who else might be a good working partner on this large project?

Club or Chapter should not even be a concern. We will survive the insurance and landmanager stuff on our own.

In simple terms, this seems to be a situation of letting your customer service experience guide where you spend your money. You would not buy dinner in an expensive restaurant that treats you with poor service and a bad attitude. Same for how we may chose our partners for this project.

If there is no other group besides IMBA, then we can do our best at the local level and hire a trail building company to accomplish the tasks. The worse that happens is we fail.

PK
 

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The Professional Trailbuilders Association (trailbuilders.org) is an international trade association of specialty trail contractors. Its 80+ members include dedicated specialty advocates, planners, designers, builders, maintainers, and project managers. Many are more experienced, higher quality, and lower cost alternatives to IMBA and its Trail Solutions for-profit/non-profit sub-company. Several PTBA member companies have built some -- or most -- of the projects IMBA takes credit for, and a few of those companies have provided training to Trail Solutions, as well as content to IMBA's books. If you like IMBA/TS for its experience and reputation, then consider spending less and getting more by hiring one of those who helped create TS. And if you've been less than satisfied with IMBA/TS, the PTBA is a great resource for better, more responsive trail professionals.

In sum, if individual PTBA members/companies can't help you, the organization itself likely can. You can post your project directly on their website (follow the links to "post your project here"), or contact their Executive Director (his contact info is on the site) for help with advocacy and planning efforts.

You DO have other options -- no need to settle for less.
 

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PMK, you wrote this:

"... we have presented a project to IMBA that will generate a lot of money and good PR for IMBA. This was presented prior to the ending of the insurance. They were interested, but always slow to get back and even required many attempts at recontacting them to keep the ball rolling. Now, they are past the insurance concern, yet we have no replies from IMBA again."

I can help check on the status of your request for assistance -- what is the name of the project? It sounds like Trail Solutions may have performed an assessment -- is that correct?

It also sounds like the ideal national advocacy group for you would require little commitment from your local group to the national body, financially or otherwise. The national body would represent your group on national and local advocacy projects. It would provide trail building support. It would provide benefits, including an effective insurance program, and would do so regardless of whether the local group wanted to enter the chapter program. It would provide friendly customer service and be responsive to your group's needs, but only if asked.

Does that sound right?
 
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