The RRCA is working with the organization Charity Lobbying in the Public Interest (CLPI) to develop an advocacy tool-kit that local clubs can utilize to assist with the development of local advocacy campaigns, grassroots lobbying efforts, and direct lobbying efforts that are of significant importance to the running community. These efforts may include local safety campaigns, funding for multi-use trails, share lanes on roads, affordable access and permitting for events, and more.
Endorsement of candidates at the federal, state, or local levels by a 501(c)(3) is strictly prohibited and is cause for the nonprofit to lose its tax-exempt status. Running clubs and events should shy away from allowing candidates to give campaign speeches at races or meetings. Do not accept advertisements for political candidates on your club or event websites or newsletters. The IRS limits the funds a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization may spend directly influencing legislation. For more information on lobbying and nonprofits visit the Center for Lobbying in the Public Interest.
RRCA Tips on Empowering Runners
Ensuring runner safety is a community responsibility that the local running community should take a lead in working with local law enforcement agencies. The following outlines recommendations for working with your local law enforcement to promote and ensure pedestrian safety.
- Knowledge is power. Discuss incidents that are occurring in your community with local law enforcement: create a network of information sharing.
- Initiate dialogue and cooperation between the police and the local running community. Find a law enforcement person who is also a runner and who might therefore be more understanding.
- Arrange a meeting between police and your local running organization. Talk with police about the important of pedestrian safety as a community priority. Share the RRCA Safety tips with police to post on their local websites.
- Develop local safety campaigns. Work with your local law enforcement on pedestrian safety campaigns. This can include papering cars parked at the grocery store or at your events with pedestrian awareness fact sheets. Be sure to highlight the extreme dangers of texting while driving.
- Write a Safety Bulletin. Designate someone in your running club to write a regular Safety Bulletin and distribute it among runners and law enforcement. Distribute the Safety Bulletin among fitness clubs, running stores, neighborhood businesses, the media, local law enforcement officers, and political representatives. Network with all the local running clubs. Encourage them to call a central contact concerning safety problems in their areas.
- Create a network of women runners. Create a system whereby women can find other women to run or walk with. Organize an annual safety workshop with police participation.
- Monitor dangerous intersections. Have volunteers monitor dangerous intersections and provide written reports about pedestrian and motorist interactions to local law enforcement. Request action on the report. Work with local law enforcement to enforce local traffic laws designed to protect pedestrians.
- Always be of assistance. Never interfere with police procedures or investigations into runner related deaths, injuries, or attacks.
- Emphasize to the police that runners and walkers want to be informed of problems, and are more likely to report sightings and incidents of they have descriptions of known perpetrators.
- Initiate communication between the running community and the community at large. Encourage a coalition between your running club and the activities of local Neighborhood Watches.
- Practice self-help in your community. Have police work with your club to clear overgrown trails, improve lighting, and install telephones or call boxes in strategic locations. Offer to raise the money if necessary.
- Promote self-defense education. Contact your local YWCA or police officer for information on community classes and educational tapes on self-defense. Publicize classes and screenings of self-defense techniques in your community and in your club, through postings and newsletters.
- Be part of the solution. Call police immediately if something happens to you or someone else, or if you notice anyone out of the ordinary. Use your intuition to report things that don’t “seem right” to you. Indecent exposure incidents should be reported, though they seem benign: according to law enforcement, they aren’t. Write letters to your local paper about particularly dangerous intersections and give a call to action to the citizen drivers to be more mindful. Don’t engage poor driving behavior such as texting while driving that could endanger fellow runners.