Inviting Congress to Your Bike Month Event

By Brighid O'Keane on April 25, 2012

imageAs we head into National Bike Month, members of Congress head back to their home districts – a perfect time to invite them to your local Bike Month Event.  The House is out of session May 1-4 and May 20-29, and some Representatives may also be home for Bike to Work Day on Friday, May 18.

The basic concept of a ‘Show Congress’ event is to connect a member of Congress with bicycling by arranging their participation in a trail opening, ribbon-cutting ceremony, or community bike event in a way that is visual, public, and fun.

Your request should begin with a phone call to your Representative’s office to let them know that a formal invitation letter is on its way.  Send in a letter by fax or email using the resource below. Approximately a week after you have submitted your scheduling request, call the scheduler to follow-up on your request.

America Bikes has a great toolkit for your organization to use when inviting and hosting your Representative for your event:

  • Tips for a Successful “Show Congress” Event: The bottom line is that you want to make your Senator or Representative look good back in their home district or state with an event that is positive, photogenic, and connected with bicycling in some way.
  • Sample Letter to Congress: You can use this fill-in sample letter to create a meeting request or invitation for your Member of Congress.  It also includes sample script for following up with the scheduler. It may take a few calls to reach the scheduler, so be persistent.
  • Tips on Collecting Media Coverage: Careful planning to attract members of the press to your event can make a big difference in drawing attention to your efforts. There are several simple steps you can take to successfully document the day for yourself, too, even if there are no reporters present. After the event, tracking media coverage and reporting back about the event will help biking and walking advocacy on both a local and national level.
  • Effective Messaging For Your “Show Congress” Event: Effective messaging before, during, and after your “Show Congress” event can help you or your organization create a lasting and impactful relationship with your Senator or Representative and their staff. Use this guide to stay on-message with your Senator or Representative and their staff.
  • Event Logistics Checklist: This event checklist can help you quickly determine whether you have key tasks handled for your event. This is not meant to be a complete guide to planning an event, but rather a list of key logistics pertaining to hosting your Member of Congress and/or the media.
  • 2012 Congressional Calendar: Use this calendar to schedule meetings and events with your members of Congress in-district while they’re out of session.

Participating in an event like this also means you meet staffers, both DC‐based and those who work in a district office. These connections always prove to be beneficial.

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