Why LAB Reform?Since 1880, the League of American Bicyclists defended the rights and interests of knowledgeable, skilled and law-abiding cyclists. Until the mid-90's, LAB offered many useful member services, usually through low-cost programs run by volunteers. During the last few 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
Why has the League abandoned our rights to the road?
In Ennis Texas (near Dallas) a cyclist named Reed "Chipseal" Bates has been 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? Wrong! The League refused to get involved. Andy Clarke claims 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 claims that the League offered to help. (Unfortunately, they did not bother to tell Reed or his lawyer about their offer.) Read Clarke's excuses here. Then read what really happened here, including seeing what that "perfectly rideable" shoulder looks like.
Ruthless recklessnessPolicies 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.
Chicago, which has many dangerous door zone bike lanes, has a BFC award despite falsifying the apparent sizes of cars & trucks depicted in scale drawings in its Bike Lane Design Guide, making them appear to be 20% smaller. See one of the drawings from the Design Guide with the vehicles re-scaled to the correct size.
Chicago gives this irresponsible advice about door zone bike lanes: "Keep track of traffic behind you so you'll know whether you have enough room if you must swerve suddenly out of the 'Door Zone'." What they should say is simply "Stay out of the door zone." If a bike lane is in the door zone, it is too dangerous to use.
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
LAB Reform Goals:
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 LAB 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.
Please see the LAB Reform Vision
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 troubling.
We have interesting articles by John Forester and John Schubert. Forester lays out Policies for Restoration of the League of American Bicyclists. Schubert issues a challenge to the "good" members of the board to reform the League. What does it take to get the board to finally begin to listen -- and admit serious mistakes?
We need your help to keep the reform process moving
We frequently update the LAB Reform web site with new information and new articles to keep our supporters informed. These will also include links for informative articles about cycling -- things that should be in the LAB magazine. We often make small (or not-so-small) updates to various pages, sometimes without changing the main page, thus some material may be newer than the date at bottom of this page. If you provide your email address we can send an occasional message to tell you when significant new information is posted or when news breaks.
We should send out more email than we do, but we are volunteers with many other responsibilities and we never want to bother people unless we have something really important to say. You are invited to add yourself to our email membership (you can easily quit at any time) without worrying about receiving junk from us. Below is the entire history of our previous mailings to our list. You can see how seldom we send mail.
9/28/03, 10/05/03, 2/20/04, 9/16/04, 9/29/05, 12/17/05, 6/22/06, 12/9/07, 9/29/10.
Please send the following information by email to
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