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Nation’s largest bike advocacy orgs announce plans to unify

Posted by on February 22nd, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Safe Routes to School National Conference-19

Tim Blumenthal has
been named acting CEO.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Massive news in the national bike advocacy world…

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 out 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.

A transition team has already been assembled to work with the boards, staff, and members of each group.

In a statement, Hans van Naerssen, Chair of the League’s board and a member of the transition team said there’s a lot of work to do.

“We must determine how to combine the diverse strengths of a powerful alliance of state and local organizations, a storied national user group, and a vibrant industry association in a way that preserves their unique attributes and realizes the game-changing potential of a single entity.”

The changes will take place over time and all existing contractual arrangements and memberships will be honored.

This consolidation makes a ton of sense. The current attacks on bicycling from Capitol Hill have made it crystal clear that we need a stronger voice with more power and resources behind it. Despite a valiant effort by Bikes Belong, bicycling has failed to capture the imagination and respect of the broader public that’s necessary to break out of the car-centric status quo that continues to dominate discussions about transportation in America.

To get to the next level, we need the best and brightest (and deepest pockets) working together under one roof with one mission. With the coalition behind the Alliance, the wonky smarts and huge membership behind the League, and the polish and industry support of Bikes Belong, we’ve got all the pieces necessary to make it happen.

I commend everyone involved with this decision. We don’t often see large and successful organizations willing to sacrifice their individual fiefdoms and comforts in order to work together for a larger goal. I can’t wait to see how this evolves. Stay tuned!

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Howard Q. Bikeman
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Howard Q. Bikeman

Good for bikes, but I hope it will fare as well for pedestrian interests within the non-motorized discussion.

Kiel Johnson (Go By Bike)
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kiel johnson

does this mean that someday the CCC the BTA and bikeportland will join together?

are
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bikesbelong is an industry group with a recreational biking focus. i cannot think how this could possibly work to the advantage of the league or the alliance.

Ted Sweeney
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Ted Sweeney

Big, exciting news. I expect this will be a fight in the boards, so we’ll see where this plan ends up. I agree with you, Jonathan, that the vision is an essential one. I think all of these organizations have done an excellent job of turning the nation’s interest in recreational cycling into momentum towards urban, transportation cycling. I hope that is firmly continued in the mission of the new organization.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Hmmm, interesting, you gain strength with a larger organization, but you lose maneuverability, focusability, etc.

If they’re all more or less focused on bikes, then I suppose it will work out.

If they start to be less than 50% bikes, then it will be time to tweeze the League of American Bicyclists back out of the mix.

My $0.02,
Ted Buehler

robert
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robert

This is interesting because Rails to Trails seems to get more done in D.C. than any of those groups. What’s even more odd is that they hardly brag about it, their fundraising materials always promote rail trails. Yet, they are responsible for the Federal Non Motorized Transportation PIlot Project in which Minneapolis, Columbia, MO and two other commuities have each recieved about $28,000,000 in SAFETEA-LU.

Jonathan Gordon
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Jonathan Gordon

I believe the following statement in the article has a typo, which had me wondering if advocacy leaders were for or against this merger:

“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.”

From the context I gather you mean “hammered out” but without the “out” it reads as if advocacy leaders were against it.

Evan
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Evan

This is great news for all of us. I suspect that people who bike are more likely to walk, and vice-versa. If a unified group can work with legislators and other groups to reinforce the fact that these two modes are not alternative transportation but simply transportation (just like a car is one alternative), then perhaps we can all work together toward a future when people no longer think a car is the only (safe) way to get around. Walkers and cyclists of the world, unite!

Paul Brennan
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Paul Brennan

This is great, the bicycle lobby needs to model itself after the NRA – arguably the most efficient and effective people based lobby out there – they speak with one voice and make their message simple.
What will be the bicycle version of “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!”