I am the Community Development Director for the City of Pittsburg, Kansas, which is on the Transamerica route. We would like to be more welcoming to cyclists as they come through town. Not being an adventure cyclist myself, I have no idea what ya'll need or want from the communities you're trekking through.
We currently have an RV park, with a covered shelter and restrooms, where cyclists are able to pitch tents (it's in a shady spot!) and stay overnight. What other things could we offer?
Thanks in advance for your input!
Thanks for asking. Actually, I hope that ALL Community Development Directors in the entire US would ask the same questions like you do :-). I had a look at the 2 links provided already and I would like to agree with all the points. However, many of the points is pure luxury :-). I have bicycled something like 20000 mi in the US and what I like the most is arriving in a town where
1. there is a free cyclist camping spot!!!
If I have a free cyclist camping spot then 90% of my requirements are fulfilled. Please remember that most cross country cyclists are very self sufficient and can provide for themselves - they carry tools, spare parts etc ... they just need a place to relax for the night.
But why is a camping spot so important? East of the Rockies, unless you find a free camping spot you typically have 2 options when using a tent:
1. State parks
2. Private campgrounds
State parks are approx. 15 USD pr night.
Private campgrounds can be up to 35 USD or even more. That is for 1 person, 1 bicycle, 1 tent arriving at 8 PM and leaving at 6 AM. The prices are so high because a vast majority of campgrounds (especially on the east coast) dont distinguish between a cyclist with a tent and a 30 foot RV with a 30 Amp hookup. It is very frustrating.
The best camping spot has a covered shelter and some benches. Maybe also some running water. Maybe rest rooms. But it is not critical because we can always find a service station with water and rest rooms. A very good spot would be on the premises of the local fire department, police station or the community park. However, I think, if the city becomes too big, you have waay to many youngsters hanging around til late in the evening.
If you look at a town like Pittsburg, I am very sure that most cyclists passing through are using the Adventure Cycling Maps and these maps already show all the services. So basically, in terms of camping spot, we just need to know where we can pitch the tent for free - we dont need big signs etc. So if the authorities like the Police know that we are biking cross country and staying in a park then that should be perfect.
Now, you might be asking why we want a covered shelter when we have tents? :-). Actually most cyclists try to set up their tent on the rock hard concrete floor of a covered shelter. That way we dont need the tent fly and can have a much more comfortable nights sleep without any annoying tent condensation problems in the morning.
And in terms of camping spots in community parks etc.: Very often the community parks have extremely bright lights that are switched on automatically during the entire night. The light is so powerful and goes directly into the tent and it is almost like daylight inside ... and thus difficult to sleep.
That is my personal view - hope that helps :-)