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Cascade Bicycle Club cancels nearly all major events for 2020, including STP

Photo looking over a large crowd of people on bikes in a parking lot.
STP 2014.

Cascade Bicycle Club has made the difficult but clearly correct decision to cancel its 2020 major events, including their iconic Seattle to Portland Classic. The decision sets up a massive test for the large bicycle events and advocacy organization, which funds most of its work through event sponsorships and registration fees.

Some events are still planned, though often in a different form than usual. Bike Everywhere Day, which was moved from May to June 19, is still on, though it will clearly look different than in years past when it had a focus on commuting to work. The Bike Everywhere Breakfast is also still on for June 3, though it is now online (so you have to cook your own breakfast). They are also still hoping to host the WA Bike, Walk, Roll  Summit September in Spokane, though details are very much subject to change.

As we reported a month ago, Cascade furloughed half its staff in anticipation of major cancellations. But they were still holding out hope that the situation would change by summer and they might be able to host at least some of their events. However, the interventions we would have needed for that to happen, like massive amounts of testing and contact tracing nationwide, have not come to fruition. As it comes time for signing contracts and placing deposits, tough decision time is here for nearly all our major summer events.

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We reported last week that the Fremont Solstice Parade (and its iconic painted bike ride) have been cancelled. Expect the wave of summer event cancellation notices to keep coming.

People who have already registered for Cascade events must request a refund by May 15. After that, your registration will be considered a donation, according to Cascade’s refund FAQ. UPDATE: Cascade is not offering full refunds to all rides. STP, RSVP and Flying Wheels registrants can only get 50% back. The organization says people agreed to this arrangement:

“Every person paying for registration agreed to both the waiver seen here (read item 11-Force Majeure) and our refund policy here.  While we are not obligated to return any of the funds received, we have done the best we can to pay the expenses incurred up to this point and return everything else to you.”

Cascade is a large organization with a lot of staff, a large office and a big budget, especially compared to other bike advocacy organizations. It’s likely difficult for them to hibernate to get through this. Meanwhile, they are working on how to reshape their advocacy for these times.

So many other businesses and organizations are in a similar or worse situation. How our city, county, state and nation act (or fail to act) to support orgs like Cascade will determine so much about what our post-outbreak reality looks like. Are we really going to let our cultural institutions collapse?

More details from Cascade:

The world continues to grapple with the fallout of the novel coronavirus. The economic impact of this disease is both personal and global. We always have our participants’ health and safety at the forefront of all our decisions. We hoped for more movement on testing and our ability to gather; however, we cannot put our volunteers, other communities, or our riders in danger. We have always based our decision on three things: public health recommendations, guidelines of individual municipalities, and our ability to safely support the event. While the stay at home order may or may not be lifted by the time of your event, cancellations of permitting and being able to safely support our community partners and volunteers in delivering these events are no longer clear. We had set decision dates as guidelines, but have been given enough information at this point to make this decision.

We are officially canceling most of our 2020 Cascade event riding season. We could not be more disappointed in this decision, but we know that it is the right one for our community, our partners, and our staff. The only events currently moving forward as planned are our June 19 Bike Everywhere Day, our annual Summit September 20-21, and our Chelan Tour Lite in October. Refund options and instructions on how to request refunds for your specific event are linked below. Because our events are all so different, there was not a one size fits all refund policy. Like most nonprofits and businesses at this time, we are working at a reduced staffing capacity here at Cascade Bicycle Club and so we ask that you be patient as we fulfill your request.

When you sign up to participate in a Cascade Bicycle Club event you are signing up for a fun challenge, joining a community of cyclists with a common goal, or participating for the pure joy of riding a bike. What you are also doing is supporting our non-event programs — 40 to 50 percent of your registration fee is direct funding in support of our Education, Advocacy, and Policy programs. Education work like providing pedestrian and bicycle education to 21,743 elementary school students through Let’s Go. Registration fees support our Major Taylor Project providing after school programming for middle school and high school students in under-resourced communities. It funds our advocacy work both regionally and statewide, including the many bike trails that are the direct result of Cascade’s efforts. It supports the coalition work that has led to a connected regional trail system in King, Snohomish, and Pierce Counties as well as our Free Group Rides. Now more than ever, we need a voice at the table as our local and state funding sources will be focused on recovery efforts. Cascade Bicycle Club and its sister organization, Washington Bikes, will continue to be the voice of people who bike, and we need your support to keep people who bike, walk, and roll safe.

We at Cascade Bicycle Club are working with organizations at this time to gather the cycling community to volunteer and help in this time of extreme need where possible and safe, including a pilot program we are rolling out to do bike delivery from food banks to our neighbors. We will be posting those opportunities as they develop on our COVID-19 resource page. We are hosting virtual town halls and socials during the stay at home order that are open to all, please visit our COVID-19 resource page for more information.  Our next town hall is Thursday, April 30. If you would like to attend please RSVP here to receive log-in information prior to the meeting.

*You must choose your refund option by May 15 at 11:59 p.m.*

Please visit our Refund Policy Page for FAQs or click on the link to see specific options for your event below:

You are our community. We have appreciated your kind emails of support and are grateful for your patience as we navigate this global pandemic. We are confident Cascade Bicycle Club will come out of this stronger than ever with your support.

Stay safe, stay home, stay healthy,

Rebecca Sorensen
Events & Rides Community Director

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7 responses to “Cascade Bicycle Club cancels nearly all major events for 2020, including STP”

  1. Jim

    I signed up for a few rides in January and signed up for STP 2 weeks ago knowing it would be cancelled but I wanted to support Cascade. We need their advocacy more than ever since there will be a fight for funding for various transportation projects.

  2. David

    I understand times are tough for them. But times are tough for EVERYONE. Your article is slightly misleading. They are not offering full refunds, only 50% refunds if you request one within a short window of time. Yes, they are in a financial bind, but so is everyone else. Cancelling their ride yet keeping registrants’ money is tantamount to stealing. I have supported Cascade for years, but I won’t moving forward. Not impressed.

    1. Gregg

      Flying Wheels, STP, and RSVP are the ONLY rides that are being offered at a 50% refund–all others are eligible for full refinds. When you paid your registration you agreed to the terms and conditions that the ride is nonrefundable even if it doesn’t happen.

      Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

    2. Tom Fucoloro

      I updated the story, David. Thanks.

  3. Austin Watkins

    David, +1, I’m done with Cascade. They have turned a pandemic into a forced fundraiser. Their force majeuer clause does not excuse them of their duty to perform. Furthermore, Cascade has a duty to mitigate damages. Cascade has voluntarily cancelled the event, at their own discretion. I find it extremely hard to believe that a 50% refund reflects their duty to mitigate damages. It isn’t my job to pad their bottom line in the event of a force majeuer. This is a forced donation. I will never again be associated with anything Cascade. Shame on them.

    1. William

      The bottom line is that a significant portion of the bike ride fee goes into planning the events and this starts way in advance (basically as soon as one season is done, CBC have staff dedicated to planning the next who are now furloughed). At this point, this almost certainly is not 50% of cost of the ride, but since many riders like myself generally register later (for a higher fee), it is quite likely 50% of funds in hand from those already registered.

      It is unreasonable to expect a full refund especially since this risk is clearly outlined in the waiver that everyone has to acknowledge when registering. People expecting a full refund are basically asking the CBC to use donations from other sources to provide this. I hope that the CBC decides to offer a discount in future years to those who lost money this year, and I would be happy to pay higher ride fees to subsidize this. However, as a member of CBC, I would be furious if CBC started diverting donations and membership fees that support its important charitable activities, to fully compensate people who had the opportunity read the waiver and are either too self-entitled to acknowledge their resulting responsibility or very foolishness because they didn’t understand what they were signing up to.

      Austin is totally out of line describing this as a “forced donation”. Why does Austin think that early registrants get a discount if it is not a recognition of the increased risk of doing so?

  4. Don Brubeck

    For the loss of part of a fee for a discretionary recreational activity, you would shame and end support the only organization in Washington doing advocacy at State and local level for bike riders; bringing bikes and training teacheres in PE classes to thousands of elementary school students; bringing Major Taylor Clubs to high school students in disadvantaged areas; organizing and supporting free group rides every day of the year?

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