PeopleForBikes: “When people ride bikes, great things happen”
The name says it all. PeopleForBikes is dedicated to putting more people on bikes, getting them to ride more often and making cycling safer and better for everyone.
Launched in 1999 as Bikes Belong, PeopleForBikes is a charitable foundation and an industry coalition of US bicycle suppliers and retailers. Based in Boulder, USA, it also has more than 830,000 individual supporters.
Imagine a place where one bike lane leads to the next. Where trails, bridges, and underpasses lead safely to exactly where you want to go. PeopleForBikes believes it is possible and has already achieved a great deal. Over the years, it has spent more than $30 million to improve conditions for cycling. $2.1 million have gone into community cycling projects, and the organisation has leveraged more than $654 million in federal, state, and private funding.
PFB works hand in hand with national groups and programmes such as the Safe Routes to School National Partnership, the League of American Bicyclists, and the International Mountain Bicycling Association. Together they try to ensure safer places to ride for both children and adults.
In a nutshell, PeopleForBikes provides a united front that advocates cycling on a national level, encourages collaboration between all members of the cycling movement, and supports local efforts and initiatives to make cycling safer.
Joining forces with pro riders
In 2014, PeopleForBikes partnered with the UCI WorldTour team Trek Factory Racing for the Tour de France and the rest of the season. The PeopleForBikes logo is shown prominently on the sides of the team jerseys, and in their promotional video the riders prove that language is no barrier when it comes to making riding a better experience.
But let’s face it. Professionals ride in an environment which is very different from that of bike commuters and children who ride to school. How can they contribute to better conditions for everybody who cycles?
Tim Blumenthal, President of PeopleForBikes since 2005, explains: “Racers are role models. But they are also real people with children, parents, families and neighbours. When bike riding gets safer and easier in communities around the globe, their relatives and friends benefit just as the rest of us do. Pro racers - like Jens Voigt of Trek Factory Racing who has six children - understand this and don’t hesitate to speak up in support of our mission.
“Racers can help cycling grow worldwide -and that growth will enhance the reputation and future of bike racing. Nearly all bike riders—even top pros--want the same thing: rides that are safe, appealing and convenient. PeopleForBikes works every day to provide and improve these experiences.”
Such is their motivation that members of the Trek Factory Racing team have been tweeting and speaking to the media about PFB’s work and why all bike riders should join today.
Interview with PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal
Before becoming President of PeopleForBikes, Tim Blumenthal served 11 years as the first Executive Director of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. He has also been a top editor of Bicycling Magazine and VeloNews, and between 1984 and 2008 he was a writer and advisor for NBC's cycling coverage of seven Summer Olympic Games. He was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2002.
We ask him three questions.
What are the key challenges when promoting the everyday use of bikes in the US?
The biggest challenge to the everyday use of bikes in the U.S. is lack of infrastructure. Most Americans won't bike where the only separation between motorized traffic and bikes is a white stripe painted on pavement. They simply don't feel safe--particularly where cars and trucks are moving fast. That's why we focus on building protected bike lanes in the busiest sections of cities and complete bike networks that are both easy to follow and appealing to riders of all ages and abilities.
PeopleForBikes was present at the Tour de France with the Trek Factory Racing team. What does this partnership with a UCI WorldTour team bring to your organisation and to advocacy in general?
WorldTour teams have aligned with charities such as the World Wildlife Fund, but this is an unusual (and promising) partnership between pro racing and PeopleForBikes to make bike riding safer and easier for everyone. Racers are influencers: when they speak, millions of people listen. When pro racers talk about the importance of better bike riding conditions in cities and towns, and for children, families and older people, they plant a seed in the minds of people all around the globe. This helps us (and advocacy groups around the world) to develop new awareness and new support.
You are a member of the UCI Advocacy Commission. How do you think the UCI can contribute to encourage more people to cycle worldwide?
When people ride bikes, great things happen. The benefits go far beyond fitness and fame, and the outcomes even benefit people who don't bike (less crowded roads, better air quality, higher quality of life in the places where people bike a lot instead of drive). The UCI can take full advantage of its high-profile public platforms - major races and major teams - to tell the positive stories of bicycling and encourage people to start riding. Equally important, the UCI can work with pro races and teams to encourage them to think about every day cycling and work to leave a legacy from major events that makes the bike riding experience better for everyone. More than anything else, the UCI can promote the idea of unity among all bike riders--that working together to improve bike safety, access, and convenience will produce real results.