Day 1: US National Bike Summit

Advocates gather in Washington, DC to lobby Congress

The 8th Annual National Bike Summit, organized by the League of American Bicyclists, convenes in Washington DC March 4 - 7, bringing together national, regional, state and local bicycle advocacy groups. Two major issues include a Congressional resolution on bicycling and a National Park Service centennial initiative.

"The Congressional resolution can increase visibility and support for campaigns within Congress and prepare lawmakers for pertinent bicycling issues in the 2009 transportation bill," said Drew Vankat, policy analyst for the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA). "This is an easy request and can pay dividends when Congress debates funding levels for programs like the Recreational Trail Program that directly benefit mountain biking."

The National Park Service is preparing for its 100th anniversary in 2016, and the President and Secretary of the Interior have proposed massive funding increases to restore parks and programs to their prior glory. Vankat said with 319 units across the country, chances are each Summit attendee has a Park Service site in their congressional district that might be eligible for new or improved trails open to bicycling.

Full-time bicycle advocates from Bikes Belong, IMBA, Thunderhead Alliance, and representatives from Shimano, Trek, Specialized, Giant, Fuji, Schwinn, Raleigh, GT and Mongoose will gather with bike shop owners and employees at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Center to discuss national topics that will impact cyclists in the US.

Summit attendees heard from keynote speaker David Jones, chairman of Humana Health in Louisville, Kentucky, on Tuesday evening during the opening dinner. Mary Bomar, Director of the National Park Service, was called away on last-minute business to the Grand Canyon. General sessions begin Wednesday, with breakout programming intended to educate and train everyone on the protocol of presenting important issues to members of Congress, which takes place Thursday.

According to Vankat, elected officials and their staff want to know why IMBA and other organizations are important constituencies. Wednesday's breakout sessions will prepare all Summit attendees to ask for their elected officials' help on two or three specific issues between federal, state and local recreation, resource and access issues.

Passing of such national issues has an impact on bicycling throughout the world, as much of what is achieved in the US is modeled for other countries to follow. And, with the largest bike companies based in the US, the health and profitability that follows increased bicycle use has a ripple affect as well.

Stayed tuned for more interviews and photos from Capitol Hill.

SRAM beefs up IMBA Trailbuilding Fund

SRAM president Stan Day has announced a new initiative directed toward IMBA's Trailbuilding Fund, contributing US $25,000 in 2008, beyond their annual dues, to support IMBA's advocacy and trailbuilding efforts.

According to IMBA, SRAM is a longtime Above and Beyond-level IMBA supporter.

"This outstanding level of commitment will allow IMBA to further leverage public and private funds for new trails," said Rich Cook, IMBA's development director. Trail Solutions, IMBA's professional trail design and trailbuilding arm, currently has 32 projects in 26 states planned for 2008. "The additional support will go a long way toward supporting Trail Solutions projects, and through them IMBA's affiliated clubs," Cook said.

Day's decision was inspired in part by Trek president John Burke's One World Two Wheels initiative to support IMBA, and by Burke's recent speech on bicycle advocacy at the Bicycle Leadership Conference. Burke received a 2008 Advocate of the Year award Tuesday evening during the Summit's keynote dinner, for his longtime commitment to advocacy, beginning in 1996 at Interbike.

"It's clear that the path to growing mountain biking is through advocacy, preservation and trailbuilding," Day said. "IMBA has been effective at preserving great trails and is continuing to build new trails to bring more riders to the sport. SRAM wants to support those efforts."

IMBA's Trailbuilding Fund is used to enable every aspect of a trail project, from initial scoping and design, to getting volunteer groups involved and actual construction and signage. The fund is driven by member donations, with gifts from corporate partners used to leverage partnerships with agencies such as the National Park Service, the Forest Service and local governments.

Additionally, SRAM's support will be used to further trail projects at five IMBA Ride Center locations. Ride Centers are model trail systems that form the apex of IMBA's strategy to bring new riders to the sport and showcase sustainable trail design and the overall mountain biking experience.

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