The Dane County Bicycle Association, which has been coasting along for nearly 40 years, quietly providing financial support to scores of area bicycling projects, will meet to disband Saturday.
The group hopes to keep its financial legacy — more than $200,000 — by leaving it to a bicycle-related group to administer, fulfilling a mission as a “perpetual” source for good deeds in bicycling.
“The board has struggled for a number of years to get enough volunteers,” said Bill Putnam, a board member for 20 years. “We have adjusted over time to shorter terms and we are to the point where we are just barely able to make a quorum.”
The group’s longtime treasurer recently stepped down, which accelerated the discussion, Putnam said.
“We’re investigating what other organization could continue our philanthropic mission,” he said, of a meeting scheduled for Saturday.
The association’s annual grants in the past few years have helped such diverse recipients as city projects, the Freewheel Community Workshop, the state Department of Transportation, and many smaller community programs.
They have paid for repair tools, bicycle repair instruction, path maintenance, bike lights and advertising posters, even an annual UW-Madison scholarship for a graduate student in the UW-Madison Nelson Institute Transportation Management and Policy Program.
One unique annual grant awarded up to $700 for a bicyclist’s multi-day dream tour.
The group was started via a unique financing agreement established when the Yellow Jersey Bicycle Co-op was sold, Putnam said.
“For a long time, the assets were increasing because a note was being paid off by the Yellow Jersey, but that payment was completed several years ago,” he said. “As a nonprofit, we have to disburse a minimum, and our investments have not been returning that amount so it has not been sustainable. Now is the time to transfer the assets to another group rather than see the amount dwindle slowly,” he said.
He said there are a number of groups being considered, but the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin might be best equipped as a steward.
Bill Hauda, a former member of the Dane County Bicycle Association board and a current member of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin board, said that might be for the best.
“Give me some time and I will come up with some suggestions,” Hauda said. “At least the money will stay with bicycling.”
Bike Federation officials were at a Washington, D.C., bicycle “summit” this week and unavailable for comment. A spokesman said it is not unusual for the federation to receive the financial remains of defunct bicycle clubs.
“We have done a lot of really nice things over the years,” Putnam said. “We are working internally to see what happens.”