Our annual membership survey is an important tool in our efforts towards VMBA’s mission to ensure the sustainability of mountain biking in Vermont and use advocacy, education, and community-driven stewardship to promote exceptional riding experiences for all. It teaches us about our members, their riding behaviors and experiences, and where we can improve as an organization. We will use this information to guide us as we work towards achieving the goals in our new 5-year Strategic Plan.
First, thanks to the 773 members who responded to our survey. We sincerely appreciate the time and are grateful that over 8% of our 2022-23 member base participated. It is worth noting that we did not sample members randomly, and the sample is therefore biased toward those with the time and interest to participate.
In line with last year’s results, 73% of the sample identified as male, suggesting we must continue to welcome and elevate the profile of female and non-binary riders. We are excited to continue our relationship with Pride Rides as part of our Community Builder program, which aims to support local community organizations working towards growing our mountain bike community in ways other than building and maintaining trails. This is one step in creating welcoming spaces for historically underrepresented groups. Additionally, we were glad to see a higher percentage of young adults participate in the survey, a demographic area we still need to grow in our membership base.
Regarding geography, our sample – and the membership – remains skewed to the north center of the state, with Chittenden, Lamoille, and Washington counties representing a disproportionate share of members relative to their population. We look forward to supporting our newer and smaller Chapters in other parts of the state by helping them engage their communities and further develop their trail systems.
Travel, Time, and Importance
There is no shortage of stoke, with over two-thirds of respondents giving their 2022 season a 5-star rating and less than 1% giving a negative review. Most respondents kept it local, with 60% of our sample typically driving 25 miles or less to ride, underscoring Vermont’s tremendous value in providing “backyard” recreation opportunities. About half prioritized riding by riding at least twice a week through each season, with summer and fall the peak times to ride.
Chapters received a higher satisfaction rate than last year, with 90% of respondents approving their trail work. This is a testament to all the hard work they have put into maintaining and building new trails. Another improvement from last year is that those surveyed indicated we have ample options for both beginners and advanced riders. 80% agreed that there were sufficient beginner-friendly trails, with 90% agreeing that advanced riders could find sufficient riding challenges. Regarding what respondents want more of, the desire for intermediate and flow trails was rated very important. The demand for pure advanced trails also outweighed that for pure beginner ones. This highlights the need for a balanced mix of new trail projects that provide challenges for riders of all abilities.
Just over 75% of respondents felt they received enough information from the VMBA office, a measure that was closer to 60% for Primary Chapter communications. These numbers are slightly down from last season, which underscores a need for both office and Chapters to strengthen our efforts to reach Members. The newsletter remains the go-to VMBA news source, with nearly two-thirds choosing it as their primary way to receive information.
VMBA has integrated diversity, equity, and inclusion into our mission and embedded these principles into our operations. Over half of those surveyed believe DEI should be at or among our top priorities as a riding community, and only 7% felt it should not be a priority at all. These numbers are notably up from last season’s survey. Roughly half felt VMBA was either already appropriately engaged or could be doing more on DEI, though a similar proportion expressed no opinion on our current performance. With the help of the dedicated DEI Coordinator we brought online last season to help guide DEI initiatives; we hope to highlight how and why these efforts strengthen us as a community and organization.
Lastly, 75% of those surveyed used at least one Member Benefit this season. DH passes, and Bike Shop benefits continue to be the most popular benefits, with at least 50% of respondents using at least one. With the forthcoming launch of our new App, we aim to make it much easier to manage and redeem Member Benefits and hope to see these numbers grow even higher this season. Our goal is to improve the member experience, as well as better highlight all the business partners that support our organization.
If you’re interested in a visual summary of the findings, including much of the underlying data, please follow the link below. And thanks again to all those who chose to respond!