Sitting with my morning brew and watching as the rosy hues of dawn gave way to the golden rays of the sun, I began thinking about the state of our cycling nation. Like the current national political landscape, we should be concerned about the direction and focus of our collaborative efforts. Let me explain.
In my opinion, there are two major bicycle advocacy organizations in the US: The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) and People for Bikes (P4B). In the past, these two groups co-existed well (or seemed to) with each lending its voice to the efforts of the other to further the cause of bicycle riding in the US. In particular, P4B was a sponsor/supporter of the League’s annual National Bike Summit.
This year, according to reports coming from the bike summit, P4B is noticeable in their absence. With no presence in DC and no mention on the event website, it appears that a schism may have appeared in our wheeled community. Are we destined to the same fate currently being suffered by the Democrat Party? Is the advocacy family to be split between the “establishment” of the LAB and the upstart thinking of P4B?
Several years ago, LAB recognized that they had (have?) a diversity problem. To help resolve it, they hired Adonia Lugo as a diversity manager. However, according to Dr. Lugo, when she made suggestions they fell on deaf ears, and nothing of substance changed. (Please note that this is entirely from web/news reports; I was not there.) Dr. Lugo left her position at LAB after a short term; LAB’s loss in my opinion.
Other stats I hear coming from DC also concern me. It was reported in one blog that the chair has set a goal to reach 100,000 members within ten year; this from a current enrollment of 20,000. With the reported increase in cycling over the last decade, why is this current number so low? Furthermore, what was the peak membership? If it has dropped, does that explain the staff reductions in the office? (LAB, please work to keep Caron Whitaker; she’s a great voice for us in the Halls of Congress.)
And what of P4B? Is it coincidental that they’ve instituted a Bicycle Friendly Places program that does much the same thing as LAB’s Bicycle Friendly America? Are they hosting their first Bicycle Friendly Places Conference (their version of the Bike Summit) this year? Does the leadership of P4B feel that LAB is falling short of their mission? Like the progressives in the Democratic party, are they willing to risk fragmenting the base to further what they see as the proper course of action?
Hopefully, this is conjecture on my part and there is no rift in the cycling continuum. Perhaps it’s all in my own perception, and the two organizations can and will continue to work together. As I finish up this little post, a glance out the window tells me that gray clouds have gathered, pushing back the rays of the sun. I hope, sincerely hope, that this isn`t a portent of what’s coming to the world of cycling transportation.