Thursday, March 29, 2007

A call to advocacy

If you haven't watched it yet, here's Trek president, John Burk, giving a presentation calling for advocacy in the bike industry. It's the best 23 minutes you'll spend today.



That's the most inspiring thing I've seen in a long time and I feel it's the beginning of something grand.

It's hard to tell if my perspective is just skewed due to the fact that I watch the bike industry so much anyway, but it seems like we are on a verge of a renaissance here in the US. The overall "green" feeling growing across the country. Higher gas prices forcing people to look towards other means of transportation. And now, one of the biggest movers in the industry calling for an move towards bicycle advocacy.

For me, the part in the video that stood out the most is when John Burke confessed to not being interested in advocacy ten years ago and consistently turned away people asking for help. That kind of honesty is refreshing.

From there, the points about growing the number of people on bikes just a few percentage points will make the industry boom struck me as something I never had considered... but should have!

So here's my questions... What can I do? And what can you do?

We can give money to advocacy groups... but what else?

How do we start getting involved in my community? Where do we start? Should we be burning up the phones calling our local politicians? Or is there something else?

I'd love to start compiling a list of resources for people that want to get involved in their community to get more people on bikes. If you have some information, links, tips, ideas, etc etc. Leave them in the comments to get us going.

Posted by Tim Grahl at 5:19 AM

3 Comments

  1. Blogger Carlton posted at 7:09 AM  
    Thanks, Tim.

    As I sat there videoing John's talk I knew it would have a big impact on YouTube. It was a really eye-opening presentation. The stats about amount of cash given over to marketing, R&D and advocacy were breathtaking.

    I've had emails from lots of UK industry bigwigs telling me the talk had shifted their perceptions of what can be done and what needs to be done. So, way to go, John Burke!

    I now wish I'd shipped a proper video camera to Taiwan. More info on John's talk here http://quickrelease.tv/?p=31
  2. Blogger jill hamilton posted at 11:09 PM  
    After attending the Bike Summit with Tim, I have to admit that I too have been hit with the advocacy bug.

    Just one of many things I took away from the Summit is that bicycle advocacy isn't just an option, it's a need. It's a need for many reasons, and many of these needs are highly interrelated.

    For one, the health of our industry depends on it. The only way our industry is going to grow is by attracting new participants. And in order to get more participants, we need to be marketing outside our current customer base.

    The health of our environment depends on finding alternative means of transportation. Let's face it folks...oil isn't going to be around forever. The topic of sustainable energy and environmentalism is swelling rapidly.

    The health of our society depends on it. Kids don't ride bikes like they used to, nor do they get enough exercise. As a result, childhood obesity and diabetes is at an all-time high. Adults aren't immune to these statistics..America's waistline is getting better and needs to get more exercise.

    Important ground is being laid by some of the tireless advocates we met at the Bike Summit, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Proper infrastructure is key. Albeit, this is a big hurdle, but not impossible like cities such as Louisville KY and Portland OR have proven.

    How can you help? Advocacy is as simple or as complex as you'd like to make it. it can take on the simple form of saying a few encouraging words to the family out on Wal-Mart bikes you see out on the trail or taking the time to help a newbie change a flat tire beside the road. Encouraging your family, friends, and neighbors to ride bikes for health, recreation, and transportation is a form of advocacy. It can also be taken much further by becoming involved with local, state, and national bicycle coalitions to become familiar with the issues that impact cyclists.

    Like my good friend and head Kool-Aid guy Tim "Masiguy" Jackson has said, "Lots of little things add up to big things"...this certainly applies in the case of advocacy. Don't ever think your actions alone are insignificant. Every little bit helps in some shape or form.
  3. Anonymous Wiley Davis posted at 5:22 PM  
    Thanks for posting this video. We're in the process of starting up a new magazine that covers (and promotes) the use of bicycles as transportation and John Burk's talk just fires us up even more to document the growing bikes-as-transportation phenomenon we've been seeing. Good to see some major industry recognition of this.

    I've posted to my blog a copy of this video, as well as a link to your blog. Thanks again.

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