MONTEREY, CA (BRAIN)—Trek’s John Burke and Specialized’s Mike Sinyard shared the podium at the Bicycle Leadership Conference yesterday morning and rallied the industry behind them to raise a whopping $573,000 for the IMBA Public Lands Initiative.
Specialized and Trek, along with Bikes Belong, pledged financial support to kick-start the new national campaign to increase mountain bike access. Their pledge of $100,000 each over two years got IMBA halfway to its immediate goal to raise $600,000—the cost of the two-year campaign.
“I gotta tell you, it’s not good for mountain biking right now—we’re seeing some really damaging trends for cycling,” said Jenn Dice, government affairs director for IMBA. Dice cited the volatile situation in Montana, where 150 miles of trail were closed last week and closure of another 380 miles of single track is proposed for July.
While mountain bikers face serious access threats across the country, IMBA has seen recent successes in diverse locations—including Virginia, Oregon and Colorado—where mountain bikers have supported measures that allow for bike access while also safeguarding public lands. Dice said we have an opportunity in the next two years to influence access decisions and reverse this negative course.
Trek president John Burke called the situation urgent, adding that professional advocates like Dice need the industry’s financial support to get the job done. He challenged the industry to step up.
“Our company believes in IMBA and already contributes $10 for each mountain bike we sell to help put new trails on the ground. Based on recent trail losses, Trek decided to give even more to help with public land protection and access issues. We need the rest of the bike industry to step up to make sure we are doing everything possible to insure success,” Burke said.
Dozens of bike companies signed on with additional support. SRAM CEO Stan Day stepped up with a matching $100,000 pledge, spurring other company leaders in the room to give generously, donating amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
Burke said companies can see a direct sales correlation from investment in advocacy. “People are seeing a bump in business right now. One of the reasons is we have more places to ride,” Burke said on a panel later that day on Federal Funding for Bicycling. He added that additional places to ride didn’t happen by accident. “We’ve been pounding on doors for 15 years,” he said.
Although we’re making progress, Burke said there’s still room to increase trips by bike. Currently only 1 percent of trips in the U.S. are by bike.
“If we can move the meter from 1 percent to 5 percent, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out we can increase sales 5x,” said Burke. “But you’ve gotta show up. Every company needs to look at what it’s doing to make America bicycle friendly.”