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!