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BPSA, PeopleForBikes to examine ties as issues grow more complex

Published April 19, 2018

MONTEREY, Calif. (BRAIN) — It's a tentative move couched in words like "cautious," "respectful," "tentative," and "complex." But the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association and PeopleForBikes have agreed to examine whether the BPSA should move to combine forces with the industry's leading advocacy association.

"We are starting an examination of our relationship," said Adam Micklin, the BPSA's president, in an interview Wednesday at the Bicycle Leadership Conference.

BPSA and PeopleForBikes have been working closely together for the past four years under a formal memorandum of understanding (MOU), said Micklin, who's also Felt's vice president of sales. The BPSA pays PFB for services primarily related to a variety of trade and tariff issues.

BPSA's budget last year was approximately $750,000. BPSA supplier members with a focus on e-bikes also raised an additional $200,000 that helps fund PFB's work in managing and implementing e-bike legislation throughout the 50 states.

The associations will start to investigate the issues involved in defining a new relationship and will produce a report for its mid-June board meeting, Micklin said. Any decision that would lead to a combined organization would require approval by both boards of directors.

Micklin broached the topic during the BPSA annual membership meeting, and several members voiced support for the move. One said such a move could lead to an organization similar to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). "There's way too many tents (in the bicycle industry). Let's get everyone together and save some money. I know how powerful the OIA has been for the outdoor industry," the member said.

Another pointed out how little money the industry in general spends. The BPSA budget is 1/17th of one percent and PFB's is 1/10th of one percent of cycling sales. It's appalling," he said.

In discussing the decision to examine their relationship, Micklin pointed out that the BPSA board is primarily a group of volunteers focused on three core issues — legal and legislative issues, statistics and bicycle safety.

"We all have jobs and the issues we are dealing with today are getting so much more complex," he said.

"The complexity of legal and legislative issues has really expanded for all businesses, not just the bicycle industry. New regulations have made it more costly for business, even though some of the regulations have been good for consumers," Micklin said.

Before the BPSA set up an MOU with PFB, it reacted to unexpected legislation like California's controversial Prop. 65. With PFB's help, the organization has been more "pro rather than reactive," Micklin said,

Where the BPSA relies mostly on volunteers, PFB is well staffed and has offices in Washington D.C. The Boulder-based advocacy group also tracks thousands of state and federal bills that could impact the industry.

PFB has also taken the lead on e-bike legislation, a category that's increasingly important for suppliers and retailers.

Micklin, however, is wary of using a word like "merger" citing attempts by the League of American Bicyclists and PFB to merge several years ago. The move was unsuccessful.

"We don't know all the details," Micklin said. "We really have to survey our members. It's a complex issue," he added.


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