Park volunteers from the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historic Park perform scheduled visitor service patrols on bikes.
The Bike Patrol provides: information, education, first aid and emergency medical services.
Geographic area covered: 184 miles of Park towpath along the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
List of partners and relationships: 230 active Bike Patrol members - with approximately 10 support
agencies i.e. state and local police, state and county parks and forests and local governments.
Accomplishments to date: Over 2,000 hours volunteered annually. The Bike Patrol provides a much
needed presence for the visitor on the C & O Canal.
Key success factors:
- The Park Service personnel coordinating the program take a personal interest and remain actively involved,
which keeps the Bike Patrol volunteers motivated.
- Continuous training, support and recognition allow for fulfillment of the Bike Patrol members.
Most important lessons learned to date: It is important to understand that people volunteer for a variety of reason. One of the most important is that they feel that their time is valued and that they are making a difference. This can be done by recognizing their accomplishments through awards ceremonies, references in press releases and by building a sense of group identity through training, specialized equipment or a standardized bike patrol "uniform." Another important lesson to be learned is that this type of program does not run itself. It takes care and feeding by park staff to provide the training, equipment and direction. Don't underestimate both the amount of time and a modest amount of fiscal resources to assure success.
What would you do differently next time: In an ideal world we would have more of everything: money, staff and volunteers. Seriously, the only thing we would give more thought to was how to balance a limited staff's time spent on volunteer endeavors (like Bike Patrol) vs. other interpretive and law enforcement activities. A well run and enthusiastic group of volunteers will always perform better if they are given sufficient direction from staff.
Suggested resource materials:
C&O Canal Bike Patrol website.
For more information:
Name: David Tune
Affiliation: Volunteer Coordinator, C&O Canal National Historical Park
Partnership category(ies) (check all that apply)
Fundraising __; Capital Improvements __; Facility Management __; Trails __; Design __; Program Delivery __;
Visitor Services _X_; Tenant Organizations __; Concessioners __; Natural Resources Management/Restoration __;
Cultural Resources __; Education/Interpretation _X_; Arts __; Information Services _X_; Transportation __;
Mutual Aid __; Fire Management __; Planning __; Tourism __; Community Relations __;
Prepared by: Martin Gallery Date posted: 8/4/03