As many of you know, bike advocacy is important to me and I mention it here from time to time. Last time I posted specifically about advocacy, I happened to mention Trek President John Burke’s speech at the National Bike Summit. In the comments section, a reader took issue with Mr. Burke’s speech, saying that Trek does not really seem to be doing enough to further the cause of transportational cycling. She also posed a question:
“It’s great that he’s at least *talking* about practical cycling. Is it more than lip service, though? *Is* Trek doing advocacy?”
By now, many of you have probably read the news about Trek’s latest advocacy program, One World, Two Wheels. I am personally very impressed with Trek’s hefty financial commitment to national advocacy efforts. I hope that other big players in the bike industry will step up and match the level of donations to which Trek has committed; it is not only good for the world, but it is good business for the bike industry as a whole. I also believe that Trek, and many other bike companies, are moving in the right design and marketing direction with transportation oriented products that will introduce new people to the joy of cycling. I have been a fan of the Lime since I first saw it, and I also think bikes like the Soho and Portland are nice products, each geared toward different types of users who might ride them to work or for errands. I expect to see more transportation-oriented bikes from Trek, and others, in the near future.
If any of you still believe that Trek is just a big corporation with some sinister ulterior motive as far as advocacy is concerned, I doubt that I will be able to change your mind. I do however want to pass along a firsthand account of Mr. Burke’s announcement of the initiative at the dealer meeting last week. I received the following message from a Trek employee and I think his pride in the company he works for is apparent in this message. I would also be willing to bet that he is not the only person at Trek who feels that way. I have no affiliation with Trek (besides owning a couple of their bikes), but after hearing about this latest advocacy initiative, I have to say that I am proud of them too.
Now on to the description of the announcement:
“It was amazing. John Burke got up in front of 1000 dealers, and described:
* The obesity crisis
* The pollution crisis
* The congestion crises
He went on to point out some interesting facts. 50% of all car trips are under 2 miles in length.
After London enacted a congestion tax, tons of people started riding bikes and London bike sales doubled.
All of the considerable results from Bicycle Friendly Communities were generated with only about $150,000 budgeted per year. We (Trek) are pledging $1 per Trek helmet sold over the next three years, which will amount to at least one million dollars to them. The Bicycle Friendly Communities director appeared to be wiping some tears from his eyes as John described the plan.
Trek is also donating $10 per full-suspension bike sold to IMBA, and expects to donate at least $600,000 to them over the next few years.
For the first time ever, Trek is employing a full-time, very experienced advocacy worker.
Trek is also going to be promoting the “One World, Two Wheels” program, marketing bicycle use in general…..and not plastering our name all over it. Tons of money will be spent on this…..pamphlets, website, billboards, apparel….and although we stand to benefit from increased bike sales, it’s clearly not a corporate message.
After all of this, John wrapped up by telling everyone that we’ll be heading down the street to have dinner at a sports field, followed by a kickball tournament. He directed everyone to the buses waiting outside. As everyone was standing up to head out, a prearranged shout was heard from the audience. “Why don’t we ride our bikes”, he shouted.
Everyone laughed, and some dealers jokingly shouted that we should “Let’s ride our bikes next year!” John then stunned everyone by showing a slide that pictured one thousand (1000) Limes parked outside. He said he agrees, and that if they wish, they can opt to ride a Lime to the evening event. Comments like “holy s*%t!” and “are they serious?” could be heard all around. On each Lime was a helmet and lights. Everyone ended up filing down to the Limes and riding to the evening event.
After the evening event, dealers donned their helmets, turned on their lights, and overtook downtown Madison on their Limes. On State Street, Limes were strewn about on the sidewalks and street, and even found their way into bars. Grown, middle-aged men rediscovered the joy of buzzing their buddy’s tire from behind and power-sliding their bikes with coaster brakes. Wheelies were ridden. Asses were slapped. Curbs were jumped.
The entire process was repeated a few nights later, for the second show.
Trek isn’t screwing around with this advocacy thing. We (the bicycle industry) increased government spending on bicycle advocacy from about 20 milllion/year to something like a billion or two dollars a year with incredibly little effort. With the effort Trek and our dealers are putting forth, the next ten years are going to be revolutionary. Mark my words, and call me out on this in 2017. I’ll be right. ; ) “