Booklet/How the Biketour is Organized
Cycling across different countries in a large group visiting projects on the way requires a lot of preparation. Most projects would be totally overwhelmed by a group of up to 50 cyclists arriving without announcement, and people who want to join or leave on the way need to make their travel arrangements in advance, so every single day of the tour is usually already planned several months before the tour starts. In addition, the communal equipment needs to be repaired, completed and transported to the starting point of the tour, papers need to be written printed that contain information that is important on the way, and promotion material like posters, flyers and the website need to be updated and distributed. In times when the Biketour was still cycling to the Ecotopia Gatherings and was thus supported by the big network of activists who were planning to attend it, the tour was sometimes prepared to such an extent that local people cycled each segment of the tour in advance, selecting the best roads and camping spots.
Coordinators vs. Open Group
In the past, the Biketour has often been prepared by one or two “coordinators”. They were keeping an overview over the preparation process and did most of the work. Sometimes there were additional structures like regional coordinators for different parts of the route. Often, we applied for funding to pay the coordinators to be able to work on the preparation full-time.
Usually, it was hard to find anyone who would be willing to take on the huge responsibility of becoming a coordinator. In 2013 though, when the tour was planned to start in Berlin, we received more than 10 applications and had to select two of them, as that was a limitation imposed by the funding that we had applied for. Because this created dynamics quite similar to the capitalist competitive labour market, and because the concept of having two coordinators anyways contradicts the way we usually do things on the Biketour (where we try to share all responsibilities among everyone), a proposal was brought up to get rid of the two funded coordinator positions and instead try to prepare the tour as an open group where many people take on little tasks decentrally and coordinate with each other online.
In 2015, this approach of an open preparation group was tried for the first time, and it turned out to work not so well (one person did most of the work alone). We could think of two reasons for this: Either only few people have the time to prepare the Biketour in their free-time, or the Biketour community is not yet used to the new approach and first needs to learn that it is necessary to contribute before joining the tour. During the tour in 2015, it was very clearly communicated that everyone’s initiative is needed to organize 2016, and now we are about 6 or 7 people working together. Whether we feel like the concept of an open group is working well and how the tour will be organized in the future is still up for discussion.