1000 Limes

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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. ; ) “

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16 Comments

  1. becx August 23, 2007 at 4:59 pm -  Reply

    Thanks for the great story–even though I was part of it, it was nice to read about it.

  2. Fritz August 24, 2007 at 12:59 pm -  Reply

    Is that really a photo of 1000 Limes??

  3. James August 24, 2007 at 1:11 pm -  Reply

    A few of the ones at the ends of the lines are taken, but yes, this is a shot of the 1000 Limes from Trek World. I have another shot that shows the bikes undisturbed, but I liked this pic better.

  4. Mitch August 24, 2007 at 6:35 pm -  Reply

    I was riding west on a bike path in Madison last Saturday night when I encountered hundreds of people headed in the other direction, riding Limes with identical white LED headlights and wearing identical blue helmets. They took over the entire path for several blocks, but they were kind enough to give me space, even though I was riding a (gasp) Raleigh.

    I’ve been wondering how their evening at the park turned out. It was already raining when I met them, and the rain got heavier shortly afterwards; my clothes were wringing wet when I got home, and I didn’t have as far to go as they do.

    The riders seemed in good spirits when I saw them, and I hope the whole evening turned out well, despite the weather.

  5. Sprocketboy August 24, 2007 at 7:33 pm -  Reply

    It’s interesting that Trek’s impressive effort took place the same week that the Secretary of Transportation referred to bike paths as a waste of money. Maybe Trek needs to spend some of that $600,000 on Capitol Hill educating people.

  6. Anonymous August 25, 2007 at 4:09 pm -  Reply

    Maybe Trek needs to spend some of that $600,000 on Capitol Hill educating people.

    They’re doing better than that. Instead of taking funds out of the $600,000 donation, they’re leaving it intact and paying a new advocacy director a salary to go out and kick some Capitol Hill ass. :)

  7. Marc W August 25, 2007 at 9:53 pm -  Reply

    I just thought I’d mention that Trek is also one of the sponsors of World Bicycle Relief. It’s not bicycle advocacy as I typically think about it, but it is another example of them furthering the cause of transportational cycling.

  8. Lets all drive Yukons August 26, 2007 at 3:48 pm -  Reply

    Trek will continue to have Giant build 99% of their McBikes in Asia and just label them Trek and paint them all blue/gray/black though, right? Amazing that in 1997 you could buy a $200 trek made in America, I remember cause I spent 500 on a Trek 6000. Then I started seeing made in Taiwan on higher and higher priced models. Yeah, yeah I know American cannot compete. More like will not cause building bikes in Wisconsin isn’t sexy to some VP that wants to go to Asia and needs bigger bonuses for recommending more gray bikes, so long Wisconsin workers. It’s funny they care so much yet Trek’s method of globalization has not only produced boring McBikes for them but every company that imitates their method of outsourcing. At least when Schwinn had someone else build their bikes they still looked like a Schwinn (pre mid 80s) and not a McBike.

    The masses will not ride a bike in 2017 unless the world looks like madmax on the fuel side. Most people either live in or want to live in the largest eyesore of a Mcmansion they can find and then get a larger one for no reason but to be a tool. My idiot friend is a great example. He bought a 3700sq ft. house. The place is huge and he doesn’t even have kids living there. Said it’ll be a great day when he can afford 7000sq ft. WTH?

    Even in China the number of people riding bikes is going down with their own government encourage CARS and asking people to park the bike.

  9. Arleigh August 26, 2007 at 9:35 pm -  Reply

    greenville? we should meet up sometime

  10. James August 27, 2007 at 7:27 am -  Reply

    lets all drive Yukons- huh? Fine, you don’t like over consumption, but how does that really relate to this. Should Trek just do give up on advocacy because you don’t like the bikes they make? Also, where did you get your info about Trek’s manufacturing. You probably should recheck your source.

    Hey Arleigh, are you planning to be in Greenville for the US Pro races this weekend. Send me an email if so.

  11. Anonymous August 28, 2007 at 2:06 pm -  Reply

    let’s all drive yukons -
    dude, you totally missed the point. maybe you shouldn’t take your issues with your friend out on Trek. at least they’re trying. you’re just whining. nice work, trek. very cool idea.

  12. Olivier Blanchard August 29, 2007 at 11:36 pm -  Reply

    15% of my car rides involve (in the following order):

    Turning on the ignition.
    Turning the AC to MAX.
    Turning on my brights.
    Turning up the radio.
    Putting the car in reverse.
    Going backwards about 12 feet.
    Rolling my (electric) window down.
    Reaching out.
    Opening my mailbox.
    Grabbing my mail.
    Shutting the mailbox.
    Waiving at my neighbors.
    Rolling my window back up.
    Rolling forward back to where I started.
    Turning off the car.

    Okay…I just made that up.

  13. chad lockart September 24, 2007 at 11:47 pm -  Reply

    “let’s all drive yukons”, I work at trek. First, I am totally at a loss for words for people who pick at trek over advocacy or mfging in Asia when Trek as long been involved in advocacy and we are one of maybe 3 major IBD brands that actually makes anything in the US. Second, I would be willing to bet my salary that Trek and Trek dealers employ more Americans than any other biycle manufacturer in the world. Between our US operations, warehouse, development, distribution, sales, dealers and mechanics the idea of putting people out of work for bonuses is ludacris and false. Not only that but I started at Trek more than 5 years ago and there are easily 4 times as many employees in Waterloo than when I started.

    Mcbike. Sure that was a problem for awhile. Wait and see the changes my friend. Our new line looks great. Internally we fight McBike syndrome. We are winning that fight. We think that even the most hardened skeptics will dig our new product even if they still think it is fashionable to dislike Trek.

    Next regarding lip service. The Burke family does more philanthropic work than anyone knows about. I would be willing to bet they do more charity, advocacy and volunteering than you have ever done. The reason no one knows is because they are quite humble people. They truly believe that when you give back you do it without flaunting. The idea that you think they are big bad brother pisses me off beyond words because it is wrong. Prior to the new advocacy campaign the Burkes have long been involved at a national level supporting with leadership and experience not just money. They worked with senators/gov to pass the recent transportation bill which put more $ than ever towards bicycle safe routes and paths instead of going straight to roads and highways. Sure Burke wears loffers and I wear Vans but it doesn’t mean I take pot-shots at him. Get your shit straight man!

    I doubt I will ever change your mind but hopefully the story can be set straight. Burke has done more for cyclists than most have ever done in a lifetime and this my friend can be proven.

    People that work at Trek love bikes. That is why they work there. It is unfortunate that somehow people don’t believe that. Actually it bums me out when people take uneducated pot shots at us.

    last but not least Giant makes bicycles for almost every major brand in the bicycle industry! Prior to being a brand they were a manufacturer and one of the best mfg’ers the bicycle industry has ever known. You go to their factories and you will see the who’s who of the bicycle industry.
    Outsourcing isn’t a product of greed at Trek it is a matter of competition. Everyone one of our competitors sources from Asia. It makes it hard for Trek, who makes product in the US, to compete at a price level with the likes of Specialized or Giant or Orbea or Cervelo or anyone else that is sourcing from Taiwan or China. If you don’t like Asia built products then don’t buy them. Remember that Trek is one of the last major players that makes anything in the US! We have held out longer than 95percent of our competition. The primary reason no one makes anything in the US anymore is because the majority of Americans are not willing to pay for US made products…everyone wants the lowest price product with the best value.

    blah blah blah this will probably get me in trouble at work but the crap people say about us is usually wrong and it bugs me. We are bike people too. No apologies for being successful on the business end. I am proud to work at Trek!

  14. SiouxGeonz February 21, 2008 at 6:13 pm -  Reply

    about lip service :)

    I’m flattered and impressed that my words were noticed. When I posted my question, it was a sincere question, because I read the stuff online and then spent some time perusing the Trek website.
    Since then I have learned from more perusals that, for starters, the Trek website is a weak link in their marketing loop (just for starters, they put Illinois in the “east” while promoting women’s stuff… and the inks to illinois stuff wasn’t in the section about the East… not that any of the events were close enough for me to ride to). Therefore, it’s probably not the best indicator of what’s currently happening with the company. (At that time, there was a plug to write an essay to be chosen as a “woman who rides,” due April 30, with the expectation of availability on… May 1 ?!? … the final selection being made many months later after several “false alarm” announcements.)
    At that time, I hadn’t heard the Limes over Madison story, either.
    Welp, since then, I’ve been pretty impressed. Oh, I’m not saying Trek is up there with the saints necessarily ;) … but I can see it in the bikes (which are getting to the “yes, I’d want to ride this to work” stage, though not at the “the bike for people who ride to work every day” stage… but then, again, I don’t ride th same bike to work every day ;)
    And “1 world 2 wheels” is great, especially since it isn’t all about Why to Buy A Trek… it’s about … 1 world 2 wheels.
    So… indeed, my question “is it just talk” has been answered. No, it isn’t.
    I ****still*** want reasonable (not wireless-$82) turn signals for my bike… that a mechanical/electrical moron can install. I think this is a great opportunity for a group to think beyond “what do cars do?” and create something to encourage riding to work… not just “on occasional nice days when the mood strikes,” but during htat chunk of the year when it gets dark, too. Hey, the Weather Channel and the NY Times have figured out that people ride all winter to get around… how about the cycling industry?
    But… that’s a peeve. I **am** impressed and have been spreading the love on my silly blog, too.

  15. SiouxGeonz March 5, 2008 at 3:05 pm -  Reply

    Hmmm …. here’s a thought.

    I know my fearless LBS had several “women’s nights” when Trek was promoting its WSD stuff.

    How about “practical cycling nights?”

  16. jameslee January 8, 2009 at 4:04 am -  Reply

    wow, sooooo many bikes, looks like a dragon

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