Big Bicycle is about to get a whole lot bigger. Big news for national bike advocacy efforts: The Alliance for Biking and Walking, Bikes Belong and the League of American Bicyclists have announced that they will combine forces to become one huge voice for cycling.
The Alliance for Biking & Walking, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists — the three largest national bicycling advocacy organizations — intend to merge into one group. According to an official statement, the goal of the unification is to, “speed progress in creating a bicycle‐friendly America” and to “combine the significant resources of the three groups into one effective, powerful organization with a clear, integrated structure and a single voice.”
The new, unified organization is yet to be named, but the group has chosen an acting board and CEO. Tim Blumenthal, head of the industry-backed Bikes Belong, will lead the new organization. The agreement was hammered by advocacy leaders (that included the BTA’s Rob Sadowsky) from around the country at a meeting in San Diego California last week.
At this point, the plan must still be ratified by the boards of the three organizations. That decision is set for September and if it all goes according to plan the new organization will launch in January 2013.
In Seattle, we have several ties to this merger. The Bicycle Alliance of Washington’s Barb Culp is Vice Chair of the Board at the Alliance for Biking & Walking. Lisa Quinn from Feet First is a board alternate.
Also, Cascade Bicycle Club is one of the largest bicycle advocacy groups in the country, and they are excited about what it could mean. From Cascade’s John Mauro:
Cascade Bicycle Club has talked with representatives from the organizations and believes that, if done right, this merger could be a tremendous opportunity to harness the strengths of each organization, unify the voice of bicycling and increase the power and effectiveness of the bicycle movement. We don’t have many details right now, but it’s clear that Bikes Belong, the League of American Bicyclists and the Alliance for Biking and Walking are all eager to involve their local and state partners as they move forward in their work to create a more bike-friendly nation.
Obviously, it’s unclear what the effects of this unified group will be (will it include walking?). However, it is exciting that bicycle industry-backed Bikes Belong is going to team up with the advocacy-focused LAB and ABW. As urban bicycling explodes in all corners of the nation, the industry voice seems to be largely missing. Can you imagine if Ford and GM did not advocate (or conspire) for urban roads and highways one century ago? More safe bikeways means more people biking mean more bike sales.
Recreational biking can only grow so much. Cycling for transportation could grow almost without limits. It seems like a long-overdue partnership, and I am hopeful for the new mega-group.
What would you like to see from your dream national bicycle advocacy organization?