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Becoming Better Allies

Becoming Better Allies

IMBA’s commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion

By: Eleanor Blick
Posted: July 20, 2020
Photo courtesy of: David Robles

On June 1st, IMBA spoke out in support of Black Lives Matter. As we made that statement, we also made an internal pledge toward more meaningful change. To be alive in this moment means having the responsibility to work toward unity and true equity.

Over the last month, we have come together as an organization and board of directors with a renewed resolve to understand how IMBA can advance and champion racial equity. We started by listening, by recognizing our biases, and by beginning to educate ourselves. While our journey will be long and perhaps winding, we want to share our roadmap. It’s important to be held accountable for this work. We want to be clear that IMBA was not just taking a stand while hashtags were trending; we are committing to allyship and authentic change going forward.

At IMBA, we know we need to do more. We know the time is now. We need diversity within IMBA. We need to promote and grow diversity within the cycling community. We must address systemic racial inequities until we reach true equality. This commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion must touch every aspect of IMBA: from our advocacy work to our trail design, from our programs to our seminars, from grant funding to storytelling. We must make sure more trails close to home means more trails close to every home.

Equitable Trail Access

In 2018, IMBA cultivated a new brand book and refined mission statement. During this time, we realized the disparities in equitable trail access. IMBA saw the need to seek partnerships, projects and new programs that would allow communities to realize opportunities for more equitable access—for more trails close to home. Our Trail Accelerator Grants, Trail Labs and Dig In programs have all been developed to prioritize close-to-home trails.

And now in 2020, the pandemic has further highlighted the reality that everyone does not have equal access to outdoor recreation. Many communities are not able to step outside and find a trail. Suddenly we’ve realized trails are not a value-add; trails are critical community infrastructure. IMBA will continue to take these lessons, listen, and build upon our project portfolio to accurately reflect these challenges and our commitment to equitable trail access.

IMBA Values & Voices

Over the next six months, we have a work plan in place to refine our core values so we are on record with our commitment to racial equity. We are seeking diversity and equity partnerships at the national and local level to build a more inclusive community for mountain biking. We will deliberately, authentically use our platform to amplify voices from communities of color so more riders can be seen, heard and welcomed on the trails. We will keep listening and learning to become true allies.


IMBA remains dedicated to advocating for equity in the outdoor community, and intends to grow into leading by example. We are working closely with NICA to better address equitable trail access for all young riders. We will continue to seek and strengthen partnerships that advance allyship and racial equity on the trails, both nationally and locally through supporting IMBA Local Partners committed to allyship in their communities. We look forward to learning and collaborating with organizations who are already leaders and experienced with this equity work.

Bias Task Force & Recruiting

IMBA has had an internal bias task force in place since early 2019. During the past year, we have combed through our policies and organizational systems to mitigate for bias. For instance: our recruiting policy now requires all applicants be asked the same questions, we do not ask for salary history, and we have become a remote organization to attract limitless talent. While these changes and other internal policy changes were positive, they were internal and have not addressed systemic issues. The IMBA board of directors made a commitment to diversify four years ago, and the progress and perspectives are invaluable. We are deeply committed to diversifying our staff, and are continually refreshing our recruiting tools, strategies and partnerships to attract and retain the diversity we need to become a stronger organization.

Team Training

Internally, IMBA is committed to more bias, equity and allyship training for our staff and board. Our goal for this upcoming quarter is to provide a second phase of bias training. Following that, we plan to outsource training to deepen our understanding of allyship and anti-racism. IMBA employees have always been passionate about our mission and have long embraced making trails more equitable and accessible, but we know we have a responsibility to better listen to and align with the neighbors this work can serve.

About the author

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8 years 1 month

Eleanor was born a two-wheeled volunteer and cycling advocate. From racing to riding to work and every trail in between, she always put bikes first and gives back to the sport. She loves chunky trails and technical climbs with views that make it worth the work.

Eleanor was born a two-wheeled volunteer and cycling advocate. From racing to riding to work and every trail in between, she always put bikes first and gives back to the sport. She loves chunky trails and technical climbs with views that make it worth the work.

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