The Alliance, Bikes Belong and the League to Merge

Last week the Alliance for Biking & Walking, the League of American Bicyclists and Bike Belong jointly announced their collective intention to merge the three organizations into a single national organization. This is big, big news.

All three organizations have strong histories and distinct missions. The League of American Bicyclists (LAB) was formed in 1880 as the League of American Wheelman. The LAB is the granddaddy of all bicycle organizations and has worked effectively for over 130 years (amazing!) to join together our large, growing national bicycle community. The Alliance for Biking & Walking (the Alliance) began in 1997 as the Thunderhead Alliance as a resource to build capacity and competency in bicycle advocacy organizations across North America. Bikes Belong was formed in 1999 by bicycle retailers, manufacturers and suppliers to grow an ever stronger bicycle movement.

The Bike Fed has strong ties with all three organizations. Nearly our entire staff are certified as League Cycling Instructors (LCI) through the LAB and Bike Fed staff has attended every National Bike Summit since it began in 2000. The Bike Fed also enthusiastically promotes the LAB’s Bicycle Friendly American program which works to recognize and promote the creation of more bicycle-friendly communities, businesses and universities. Andy Clark, President of LAB, is a long-time partner of the Bike Fed, speaking at our Wisconsin Bike Summit and working with our staff to support our programs.

The Bike Fed was there at the beginning of the Alliance. Former Executive Director Jeannie Hoffman was among a handful of national leaders who gathered at the Thunderhead ranch to hatch the organization that eventually grew in to the Alliance. The Bike Fed has attended several Alliance leadership retreats and staff actively participates on the Alliances’ Mutual Aid Calls. The Alliance publishes the hugely important Benchmarking Report every other year which we not only continually refer to but also use as a model for the Wisconsin Benchmarking Report. Bike Fed programs have also benefited from the Alliances’ (in partnership with the LAB) Rapid Response Grant.

Bikes Belong has continually supported the work of the Bike Fed. Tim Blumenthal, President of Bikes Belong, has been a keynote speaker at two Wisconsin Bike Summits. Bikes Belong provided significant support of the European Study Trip which I attended, along with Madison-area business and political leaders, in 2010. This trip, sponsored by Saris Cycling Group, was a truly profound experience for me, dramatically changing my frame-of-reference to what is meant by world-class bicycling. Perhaps most significantly, the country’s strongest bicycle leaders (in my humble opinion): Chris Fortune, President of Madison-based Saris Cycling Group, John Burke, President of Waterloo-based Trek Bicycle Corporation and Chris Kegel, President of Milwaukee-based Wheel & Sprocket are all actively involved with Bikes Belong AND tremendous supporters of the Bike Fed’s work.

The LAB, the Alliance and Bike Belong individually do so much to advance bicycling. By tightly joining together these organizations I believe our national bicycle community will become significantly more organized and powerful. Congratulations to the leaders, staffs and boards of these organizations. You have taken a courageous and hugely significant pedal forward.

About Kevin Hardman, Former Executive Director

Kevin is the former Executive Director of the Wisconsin Bike Fed. He lives in Wauwatosa with his wife and three daughters. Kevin is happiest on a bike, any type of bike!

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