PeopleForBikes hosts Women’s Executive Fly-in to Washington D.C.
Make every bike ride better, unite people to create a powerful, concerted voice for cycling, and promote the benefits of the bike: these are some of the main objectives of PeopleForBikes.
Launched in 1999 as Bikes Belong, PeopleForBikes is both an industry coalition of cycling suppliers and retailers, and a charitable foundation. It currently boasts more than 1.2 million individual supporters within the United States. Its President, Tim Blumenthal, is a longstanding member of the UCI Advocacy Commission.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, PeopleForBikes works on numerous projects in many different areas. The government relations team deals with federal cycling issues by increasing awareness of bike-friendly initiatives and lobbying to maximise bicycle funding. The team regularly organises Executive Fly-ins, bringing representatives from the world of cycling together on Capitol Hill to make the bike industry's voice heard on nationwide issues.
PeopleForBikes recently organised a Women’s Executive Fly-in, which was attended by 10 female leaders from the cycling industry. During three days in Washington D.C., the women had meetings with members of the U.S. Congress, learned the ins and outs of constructive political lobbying, and heard from prominent female congressional staff and lobbyists based in Washington.
UCI Campaigns Manager Isabella Burczak joined the Fly-in as part of the advocacy work carried out by the UCI and to support the valuable work undertaken by PeopleForBikes to continuously grow and promote the everyday use of bikes in the USA.
As all are passionate cyclists and/or bike advocates, rides and equipment were naturally on the week’s agenda: the group visited the Recreational Equipment, Inc (REI) flagship store in Northeast D.C. and enjoyed a guided tour of the city’s cycling infrastructure using Capital Bikeshare bikes.
Meetings on Capitol Hill
After two days of coaching and inspirational talks, as well as a meeting with the U.S. Department of Transportation, the group was split into three teams for meetings on Capitol Hill.
“At PeopleForBikes we work year-round to show elected officials the power of the bike industry,” said Jenn Dice, Vice President of the PeopleForBikes business network. “It is so much more powerful when we’re able to bring in the faces of the industry themselves, to tell their own stories.”
The meetings between the Fly-in teams and different members of Congress focused on two key issues: TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) and TAP (Transportation Alternatives Programme). Both are key drivers for building bicycle infrastructure, but at risk of funding cuts and amendments within the 2018 budget.
Fly-in participants shared tangible examples of projects supported by these two funding programmes and their knock-on benefits, including economic growth, public health improvements, safer infrastructure and alternative mobility choices.
“Federal investment in bike infrastructure helps our local governments build more places for bikes,” said Amelia Kegel, Marketing Manager for Wisconsin retailer Wheel & Sprocket and one of the Fly-in participants. “With more great and safe places to ride we can grow ridership and create more opportunities for our shops to expand and contribute to our local economy.”
“Felt has a proactive leadership agenda in Washington, D.C. and we are proud to be part of the bike industry’s work to move the needle for bikes,” said Megan Duehring, International Operations Coordinator at Felt Bicycles. “Meeting members of Congress and their staff face-to-face helps to build a relationship between our business and key policy makers. Through Fly-ins like this, PeopleForBikes is ensuring our voice is heard in Washington.”