Shift Up Podcast: what role should the bike industry play in advocacy?

Dedicated to the topic of bicycle advocacy, the latest Shift Up Podcast explores the bicycle industry’s role in the bigger picture of growing ridership.

Hot on the heels of a series of CyclingIndustry.News’ discussions on growing ridership, this week’s guest is former executive director of the League of American Bicyclists and Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals Andy Clarke, now the Director of Strategy for Toole Design.

“Ridership is up, yet the bike industry is down,” says Greenwald, who proceeds to ask of Clarke his thoughts on the cycling trade’s role in driving participation.

Starting by referencing the birth of the connection between bike industry and advocacy, Clarke references a “famous breakfast at Interbike in the mid-90s, organised by Specialized.”

This breakfast, described by Clarke as a “pretty magical moment”, resulted in John Burke of Trek pledging $100,000 in matched funding to hit a $300,000 target set at the time. From that, Bikes Belong – initially an industry supported coalition of advocacy groups – was born.

When asked which direction the industry should pursue in terms of linking advocacy and business, Clarke says “There’s a huge need for support at state and local level which is where most decisions are made and where new funding emerges. It’s not just a federal strategy that we need to work on. The industry has been really good at supporting people who know how to do local advocacy.

“On the industry side I’m sure they’re bewildered at what’s being asked of them, it can be quite confusing. We can organise this differently. I’m not saying go back to how it was in 2010. I would love to see People For Bikes recreate its role as a conduit to support state and local and national advocacy, not try to do it all themselves. there’s some things People For Bikes is excellent at doing, there are some things it’s not so good at.”

Listen in full below, or on the CI.N homepage now. To join in the conversation we welcome comments below, or seek out the #betterbikeindustry hashtag on social media.

For further reading, we recommend checking in with Dr. Rachel Aldred’s recent piece asking whether the needs of less experienced and disabled cyclists have been given enough attention by city planners and bicycle brands.