Three National Bike Advocacy Groups Propose Merger

The leadership of three bicycle advocacy groups announced Wednesday that they're recommending a unification plan "to more effectively support and advance bicycling in the United States."

The three are the League of American Bicyclists, Alliance for Biking & Walking and Bikes Belong.

A final decision is expected by September. If the boards of directors of all three organizations ratify the plan, the new organization (no name has been proposed) would launch in 2013.

According to a joint statement:

"The goal is to speed progress in creating a bicycle‐friendly America, where bicycling is a viable transportation‐ and recreation choice for everyone and more people bike more often. This proposed unification would combine the significant resources of the three groups into one effective, powerful organization with a clear, integrated structure and a single voice."

Leaders of the three organizations came up with the merger plan at a meeting in San Diego on Feb. 13-14.


So far, those involved in creating the new mega-group will be headed by acting CEO Tim Blumenthal of Bikes Belong. The acting board of directors includes:

Noah Budnick, Transportation Alternatives, New York, NY
John Burke, Trek Bicycle Corporation, Waterloo, WI
Chris Fortune, Saris Cycling Group, Madison, WI
Leah Shahum, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, San Francisco, CA
Gail Spann, League of American Bicyclists, Dallas, TX
Hans Van Naerssen, League of American Bicyclists, Wayne, PA
The joint statement asserts that any and all changes will be implemented "carefully and respectfully over time."

The Safe Routes to School National Partnership, for instance, will continue to operate as it does now.

League of American Bicyclists

The granddaddy of the three is the League of American Bicyclists. The bike advocacy group with 25,000 members today was founded in 1880 as the League of American Wheelmen. Founded to fight for cyclists' rights, one of its first tasks was to support road paving. Now the group fights to get bicycle projects included in road construction legislation.

Bikes Belong

Bikes Belong, formed in 1999, is an industry group with about 400 members, comprising suppliers and retailers. They lobby Congress, issue community grants and run bicycle promotions.

Late last month, auto-maker Volkswagen penned a two-year deal with Bikes Belong, agreeing to donate vehicles and funding to 3 Bikes Belong advocacy initiatives:, Safe Routes to School national partnership and Bicycle Design Best Practices.

Alliance for Biking &  Walking

The Alliance for Biking & Walking was formed as the Thunderhead Alliance in the late 1990s comprising 12 state and local advocacy groups. Now, the coalition has grown to some 135 advocacy groups.

The "walking" aspect was added in 2004 as a quarter of its member groups support the cause of pedestrians. At its website, the Alliance explains that: "While the new organization will have a bicycling focus, the key programs of the Alliance will continue to be available to walking organizations. Furthermore, we will partner even more closely with America Walks.


Courtesy of Gene Bisbee -


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