Running Your Bicycle Club

AuthorCraig Forcese; Nicole LaViolette
Chapter 6
Running Your Bicycle Club
Cycling is not just a sport and a mode of transportation. It is also a social
activity, and nowhere is this truer than with the classic “club ride.” In many
parts of the country, cyclists assemble on weekend mornings from spring
to late fall to pedal the country’s back roads with other club members. We
have both enjoyed numerous cycling outings with our club, both weekly rides
and organized tours. It is a great way to stay f‌it, to hone group riding skills,
and to establish friendships with like-minded individuals. In fact, our local
club is the oldest in Canada and one of the largest in the country as well.
In addition to weekly rides, most clubs including ours offer different levels
of programming and activities, ranging from recreational to high perform-
ance cycling, and geared to novice and experienced riders. But an obvious
prerequisite to the club ride and all other club activities is the existence of
such sporting organizations.
In this chapter, we brief‌ly describe legal issues associated with the cre-
ation and operation of a bicycle club, including liability and how to mini-
mize it. We also look at sports coaching and the legal obligations associated
with it. We end with a basic primer on insurance law for bicycle clubs.
organizing your bicycle club
to incorporate or not, that is the question
There are “clubs” and then there are “Clubs Inc.” A club can be nothing
more than an informal association of like-minded individuals, coming
 » every cyclist’s guide to canadian law
this chapter’s takeaways
» If your riding activities are becoming organized, consider whether you
should form a club, and decide whether to incorporate. Incorporation re-
quires paperwork, which never really ends. On the other hand, a company
can own property, and shield its members from personal liability.
» If you decide to incorporate, expect a number of administrative steps to
complete the process, and be ready for the expectations that come with
corporate status. These vary from province to province — there are many
guides to which you can refer. But basically, you will be incorporating a
not-for-prof‌it corporation. In almost all instances, your club will not qual-
ify for charitable status, so don’t worry about that too much.
» Once you incorporate, you need to follow certain steps to comply with cor-
porate law. Again, follow the rules applicable to your jurisdiction.
» In running your affairs, be attentive to various areas of the law that apply
to your operations. This includes human rights laws and privacy law.
Non-prof‌it sporting clubs may be exempted from privacy laws, or they
may not be. Be attentive to your provincial rules.
» Once you start doing bike club things — like organizing rides and events
— you need to worry about people hurting themselves. Make sure you
understand your liability exposure. Once you have coaches training ath-
letes, make sure you and they understand everyone’s full range of legal
obligations. Above all, make sure you use proper liability waivers.
» Aff‌iliate with provincial cycling associations and take advantage of the in-
surance policies that come with membership.
together to enjoy a shared activity. We suspect that many Canadian bicycle
clubs are just loose associations of people with shared interests and a mail-
ing list, rather than formally structured organizations.
At some point, however, an association may reach a higher level of or-
ganization and even begin acquiring property, at which point the club may
wish to incorporate. Incorporation has obvious virtues: an incorporated
entity has “separate legal personality,” meaning that it is a person in law.
One corollary of this concept is that liability is generally limited to the cor-
poration itself, and does not extend to its members or, to a lesser degree, its
directors and off‌icers. This may become a very important consideration as
the club’s activities become more sophisticated, and its liability exposure
increases apace. We will have more to say about liability further below.

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