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Bike Portland: Largest national bike advocacy groups will merge

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.

From Bike Portland:

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.”

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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.

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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?

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4 responses to “Bike Portland: Largest national bike advocacy groups will merge”

  1. […] this article: Bike Portland: Largest national bike advocacy groups will merge … This entry was posted in Blog Search and tagged alliance, american, announced, bicyclists, big, […]

  2. Gary

    I’ve seen mergers before and the next thing announced is layoffs. First will be the walkers, too slow to change. Walking has been around since man dropped from trees. Those guys are nearly Neanderthals. Next bicyclists, yes, yes, it’s efficient, yes it’s inexpensive. But really bicycles were here before the Wright brothers learned to fly powered aircraft. Their time has come and gone.

    Next we will be forming our own PAC. So click

    With our new streamlined organization we will finally be able to take on Big Oil from the inside. Yes you read it here first, our next planned merger is with the Saudia Arabia of oil, Sheik of Aribi! More news later…

  3. Mark

    This is very, very concerning.

    Yes there is a possibility that this could create a more powerful, effective organization. But the opposite seems equally likely.

    I’m very worried about the fact that we will have FEWER voices, even if there is a possibility that the only remaining voice is a little bigger. I think it’s been great having Bikes Belong in the mix these last few years. Finally having an industry voice was very valuable and they worked well with the League. But to let them take over our 100 year old advocacy organization. This is a disaster. LAB was always the checks and balances on the industry. Now the industry is going to run LAB?

    Mixing the Alliance for Biking and Walking in with the big bike organizations is clearly a big set back for both pedestrian advocacy, which will be overwhelmed by the bikes, and cycling advocacy. Cycling two biggest voices, now only one voice, will have to make time and room for pedestrian issues. That could feel l ike (and could really be) an afterthought, and that would be a tragedy. Worse, we send the message to the opposition that we’re all the same, we’re just a bunch of anti-car people with no one clear message.

    Mergers never happen because everyone is strong, but because one or more players are weak. When there is no good purpose for this, why now? Are these organizations in trouble?

  4. merlin

    I prefer Tom’s (and John’s) optimism.

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