Coalition to Reform LAB
Return Control to Members
and Restore Traditional Cycling Values
Why LAB Reform?
From 1880 until the mid-90's, the League of American Bicyclists defended the rights and interests
of knowledgeable, skilled and law-abiding cyclists. LAB
offered many useful member services, usually through low-cost programs run by
volunteers. During the last several years, as directors with different
loyalties seized control of the Board, LAB abandoned its role of protecting
members' interests and it dropped most of the services to become just another
Washington lobbying and fundraising group. There have also been highly
inappropriate actions taken by some of the directors. Details -- History of LAB
The League Board has "fixed" elections
By means of
"sneaky" bylaws changes enacted in 2003 that require signatures of 5% of the
members (around 800-1000 signatures), it is no longer possible for petition
candidates to get on the LAB board ballot. Until 2003, it took 50
signatures to get on the ballot by petition. The old, more reasonable,
requirement provided a "safety valve" in case the Board failed to follow
members' wishes. The safety valve was welded shut by the bylaws
changes. In 2010 we sponsored three candidates who were rejected by the
current board for reasons never explained. Therefore, we
attempted to get them on the ballot by petition.
As we tried to follow the petition requirements, we found League management
to be extremely uncooperative. Management dragged its feet on requests for
more information about the process, interpreted requirements arbitrarily to our
disadvantage and when time was running short, refused to allow an email
announcement to members on the grounds that it was not an option explicitly
spelled out in policy despite the fact that it was known to be technically
feasible and despite the fact that the entire LAB election process is now done
online. This limited our appeal to cycling lists, clubs, instructors and
individual cyclists that we knew.
Some of the people we contacted told us that they could not sign the petition
because they had quit the League due to concerns about unethical management
practices. Others said they were about to quit.
Despite these limitations, we ended up with well over 400 signatures.
This is considerably more than the number of ballots cast in any recent
election. A large portion of the signatures were from League Cycling Instructors.
Many were from life members, former directors, and even former League presidents
and directors. These are (or were) among the League's most active and valuable
members. By signing the petition, they voiced their displeasure at the
management of the League.
Where do we go from here?
We have discussed tactics to follow up the petition. Several
suggested forming a new organization to take up the causes the League has
abandoned. The new organization is the
American Bicycling Education Association.
The new organization sponsors the CyclingSavvy
education program and promotes cyclists' advocacy rather than "bicycle
advocacy" through the website IAmTraffic.
Why has the League abandoned our rights to the road?
In Ennis Texas (near Dallas) a cyclist named Reed "Chipseal" Bates was
arrested for "riding a bicycle on the roadway", later changed to "reckless
operation" and jailed FOUR times. Note, it is prima facie LEGAL
under Texas law to ride on the roads he used.
So the League came rallying to his defense - right? Well, not exactly.
The League refused to get involved. League president Andy Clarke claimed
there was a "perfectly rideable" shoulder. League officials accuse Reed of
being an extremist for not using it. A "perfectly rideable shoulder" is
like a perfectly usable seat -- at the back of the bus.
Clarke claimed that the League offered to help. (Unfortunately, they did
not bother to tell Reed or his lawyer about their offer.)
Read what really happened here.
Policies of the League's Bicycle Friendly Communities
program are an attack on core principles of the League and on the rights and
welfare of cyclists. BFC has given its highest award to Portland, OR
despite (or perhaps because of) its reckless program installing bike lanes in
dangerous places. What makes it worse is that Oregon laws require cyclists
to use these hazardous facilities.
Many other award recipients also have hazardous segregated facilities.
Indeed, having segregated facilities seems to be a requirement for receiving an
award. Even restricting cyclists' right to the road is not a problem for
Bicycle Friendly Fiendish Communities: Why are they
leaving out cyclists?
The League is failing in its responsibility to look out for the interests
and well-being of its members (CYCLISTS) ... by failing to criticize bad laws
and dangerous facilities would be bad enough without giving rewards. The
League should be ACTIVELY out there putting a foot down on badly designed
facilities, negligent AASHTO guidance, discriminatory laws and enforcement.
Who's really Looking Out for YOU? It's LAB Reform. Please
support us by telling others about us. Link to this site in any web
pages you write. Mention us wherever appropriate in club newsletters and
in blogs and mail lists.
(No, we aren't asking for money. The League does more than enough of
LAB Reform Goals:
Regain members control of the League by restoring their right to elect ALL directors
Restore access to the ballot and Bylaws via the petition and referendum
Remove the veil of secrecy over the actions of the board and staff
Allow members a reasonable process to remove unethical directors
Promote the best and safest practices of cycling
Stop promoting unsafe facilities
Protect the rights of cyclists
Revive member services
Why So Much Negativism?
We are sometimes accused of "negativism", especially by those who hope this
claim will make you not pay attention to LAB governance problems.
If you haven't been following these governance problems, you may have the
impression that everything here has an unnecessarily negative or strident
tone. That's not our intention, but the LAB leadership's errors are so
serious that we could not find a way to "sugar-coat" them. Indeed, we
wouldn't bother with this effort if the problems weren't serious.
For every criticism we've made against LAB, we've offered a practical and
workable alternative. Indeed, LAB has already adopted a few (too few) of
our proposals (details elsewhere on this page and throughout this site).
But there is much more that needs to be fixed before LAB Reform can "go
away". Among the most shameful LAB programs is Bicycle
Friendly Communities, which has given awards to cities that build dangerous
facilities, ban cyclists from important roads or maliciously prosecute cyclists
for simply being on the road.
Serious Issues Remain About the Governance of the League
When outside interests seized control of the League a few years ago, the
League largely abandoned its duty to protect our interests, thereby alienating
its most dedicated members. League membership declined about 14 percent
between 1996 and 2002, a period when certain
board members claimed their leadership "... nearly doubled the League's
membership". We suffered a further decline of ten percent in
2004-2005. The membership decline continues. We often hear from
people who refuse to join the League, or have quit because of mis-management and
ethical issues. We even know a life member who is so disgusted with the
League that he quit.
A large part of the "membership problem" is the fact that fewer than 10
percent of cycling club members belong to the League. These are the people
who should form the membership core. We believe these club members would
be the most loyal members of the League if the League would be loyal to them.
There are serious problems with League advocacy that is often harmful to
members and that fails to promote the best and safest cycling practices.
The Bicycle Friendly Communities Program is especially
Until the mid-1990s, League directors were member elected, and their home
phone numbers were published in the League magazine. Then four board
positions were taken away from member election and moved to appointed
positions, in an attempt to form alliances.
When the bicycle industry lobby got some of its people on the LAB board
they insisted that board members' direct contact information be withheld from
the membership. This was never voted on; the administration simply did it.
The four appointed positions grew to five in 2003 and to seven in 2010.
Also in 2003, the board quietly changed the rules for members to get on the
ballot via petition. The result of appointed members and an unreasonable
petition requirement is that the board is answerable to the membership in
Today, concerned members can contact their board members only by letter or
e-mail. They won't necessarily be answered.
Please join us and help restore the BikeLeague to members.