An advocacy merger in the works…

Here’s an interesting bit of news to share on this beautiful, spring-like Monday:

Leaders of the Alliance for Biking & Walking, Bikes Belong, and the League of American Bicyclists Leaders met in San Diego, on February 13-14th and have issued a joint statement announcing they are to merge.

It was agreed that uniting the three organizations would dramatically improve their effectiveness in increasing bicycle use in the US.

Bike Biz via Cyclelicious.

Richard over at Cyclelicious brings up a variety of interesting points and things to consider with such a merger — concerns about the overall message of the new “super advocacy group” and how the various players might get along (or not). It’s worth a read, so swing on over to Cyclelicious to check it out for yourself.

Your thoughts on this merger? Drop ’em in the comments box below.


7 Comments

  1. BluesCat February 27, 2012 7:34 am 

    I’m going to reserve my FINAL judgement until I get a clearer picture about the nuts and bolts of the merger, the mission statement, and the mechanics of its operation.

    That being said, I think it is a known fact that Washington responds more readily to a single, large POWERFUL voice than it does to a lot of smaller voices.

  2. peter February 27, 2012 7:51 am 

    It really doesn’t matter what we think. LAB has quit being a member-driven organization. They have shut down all forums for discussion. For instance, in the LCI (League Cycling Instructors) listserver, we use to discuss proper directions for the organization. Now the moderator will only let through strict questions regarding details of the prescribed instruction.

    Currently, I know of no other venue to let members hash out pros/cons.

  3. Khal Spencer February 27, 2012 9:18 am 

    I can’t entirely blame LAB for being strict on its LCI list. The LCI list is supposed to be about teaching the LCI courses, not for having long-winded rants about bicycling policy. I do agree that LAB should start another list for general policy discussion among LAB members, who after all, write checks to the organization. Given what I have seen on such lists, it probably does need to be moderated, or at least have someone holding a sturdy club to fend off the ad hominem and bullying.

    Concur with BluesCat about deferring final judgement until the ink is dry on the nuts and bolts of the proposal. But this is a great opportunity to make the lobbying system at the Federal and local level work better than it does presently. I’m looking forward to seeing the actual proposal before I pop any corks or pitch any fits.

  4. Elizabeth February 27, 2012 1:10 pm 

    Just this morning I was thinking about how certain mergers within the bike community could be more effective for advocacy and outreach! And… look… wow. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  5. Ghost Rider February 27, 2012 1:36 pm 

    E, I have long been a champion for unification among the disparate bike advocacy groups, both on a local AND national level. With so many players, the message is diluted.

    The problem lies in getting everyone after the same goals. The reason there are so many advocacy players is that they all want slightly different things. A group “voice” with a firm set of goals everyone can agree on could do wonders (rather than the alternative of a dozen smaller groups clamoring for different things). Let’s keep our fingers crossed and see how this thing plays out.

  6. Rider February 28, 2012 8:56 am 

    I work in public affairs in a political environment, and I do bicycle advocacy, too, on the volunteer level.

    Having multiple voices is excellent — but only if all the voices say the same thing. And what’s the chance of that?

    It is common for advocacy groups to pull in different directions — sometimes in crazy, opposite directions. That, of course, paralyzes any political progress.

    Even if advocates have generally similar goals, their arguments are not exactly the same. Some points are always different.

    If you are on the receiving end of all this, the cacophony is confusing. What does the cycling community want? That’s the question I’ve heard many times from frustrated decision-makers.

    Policymakers — traffic planners, city council members, legislators and members of Congress — want one voice they can turn to for advice on what’s best for cyclists. So, in that sense, this merger would be a needed reform and could show concrete results.

    Cycling is getting hammered in state legislators and in Congress. A unified voice could get more attention and be more effective.

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