Events like this aren’t cheap; there are shirts to print, cops/emergency responders to hire, food, insurance, signs, etc. Your registration money isn’t being used to promote cycling, it’s being used to hold this event. It’s the event itself, with the thousands of people coming out for it, that promotes cycling in Pittsburgh.
In short, the registration fee goes to BP and goes to support the work that they do–everything from the fees to support and maintain this forum and the rest of the website, to producing the city cycling map, &c, &c.
Why do the ride instead of just giving the money directly to BP? Why ride MS150 instead of just giving the money directly to MS research? Why run Race for the Cure [or Charity Race of Your Choice] instead of giving the money to Komen [or Favoured Charitable Foundation]?
Bike-Pgh has a bit of traction now. They’ve been in the forefront of making two-wheeled stuff happen in this town for over a decade. They’ve had a long list of good ideas, and “Gee, if only we had X more resources, we could tackle Project Y,” and so on.
Taking on Pedal Pittsburgh itself was a big Project Y, since it wasn’t theirs to start with. Huge overhead, huge responsibility, but now with that momentum they’ve built up over the years, they have the structural wherewithal to make it happen. But it does take plain old money to really pull it off. See list above.
Where it only takes a couple hundred bucks to secure one permit for a simple street closure like a neighborhood fair, it takes thousands of dollars to underwrite the costs of all that police work for a city-wide event. Maybe tens of thousands.
If they do pocket a couple of bucks after it’s all over, then good. Other stuff they do: Pay for the costs of engineering studies to justify bike lanes, plus associated legal fees, and other services, which push the paper and urge the process along to make those physical things happening. That stuff doesn’t come for free.
I’m sure Scott or Erok can give you a more detailed explanation.
Because it’s fun.
Because the route has been marked for you and someone has flagged road hazards along it.
Because it’s supported with rest stops.
Because there will be others riding that same route who will stop if you have a mechanical or any other sort of problem.
Because just participating supports biking here.
Because you get an opportunity to meet other local riders – some of the folks here from the MB and some that have maybe never posted here.