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Comments on Bill Hoffman Resignation

Bill Hoffman received the following unsolicited comments on his resignation message.  Each person has given permission for using the comment.  There are also comments on The LAB Reform blog.

Comment from John Forester

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bill, you have stated what needed to be told, and have done it in a graceful manner.  As I see it, your resignation message is not so much for the LAB directors, for they will not bother themselves with contemplating the concepts contained, but is an encouragement for all those who have had doubts about LAB management.  After many years of working honestly and diligently with LAB in its various forms, you have stated the reasons why any cyclist who cares about safe and proper operation on the road, and the protection of his right to do so, can understand that LAB is not the organization for such persons.  And, therefore, why there is need for such an organization.

--
John Forester, MS, PE
Bicycle Transportation Engineer
www.johnforester.com


Comment from Anthony DeAngelo

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bill,

It was with great sadness and complete understanding that I read your resignation letter to the LAB board.  I'm not sure if you remember me, my name is Tony DeAngelo and I met you at an LCI certification seminar near Valley Forge a couple of years ago.

I've been fully involved in cycling since the early 70s.  I remember the heady days of the 70s bike boom, that sense of excitement that something big was happening, and for the better, and the freedom and empowerment that came with becoming a cyclist.

By the time I took my LCI certification course I'd already owned a bike shop for over 20 years.  I'd represented the USA in international cycling competition, coached bicycle racers and college students alike, and, I'm ashamed to admit, abandoned any sort of traditional life in order to pursue my love of cycling.

I'll be honest with you: my LAB experience, especially with our instructor Fred, was dismal.  Instead of a friendly welcome and any sort of feeling of enthusiasm I was greeted with mild contempt and hostility.  In fact, Fred essentially told me that I wasn't LAB material.  Prior to meeting you I was very seriously considering leaving after my first day.  Later, I learned that I was by no means the only one who felt this exact way.

What I'd like to consider is why the LAB membership has been so dismal and what might be done about it.  You outlined several accurate reasons for this in your resignation letter, but consider the following: membership in the USCF has actually increased from 53 thousand to 88 thousand from 1990 to present day.  And the USCF is a horrible organization.  The only thing they have going for them, in my opinion, is that one must join in order to be a bike racer.

Perhaps part of the reason for the low LAB membership is the inherent nature of cycling.  It is, after all, a sport that rewards loners.  Of course, there's more to it.  I can tell you that to a man, nearly all the cyclists I know (and I know A LOT) view the LAB as a small group of weirdos.  Weirdos who don't make friends easily, need to wash their clothes more frequently, and are lacking a sense of humor.  My experience with LAB members runs counter to this, but the image is a problem.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you stated that the LAB's current vision paints the cyclist as a victim, and that inherently rubs enthusiasts the wrong way.  They do not want to ride on bike paths, nor do they believe that they must join the LAB in order to preserve their cycling freedoms, as firearms owners believe vis-a-vis the NRA.

I understand that the USCF and the LAB are quite different organizations, but it seems that the LAB's fear of bike racers is hamstringing the organization.  It seems to me that everyone with a USCF license should also want to be a member of the LAB.  Clearly this isn't so.

In a sense, it seems that the current LAB mirrors government itself.  For years it has been expanding its own power and carrying out unpopular decisions.  Is it counting on developing an untapped segment of the population of is it simply trying to jump on board the government stimulus train?  I don't know.  I do know that, percentage-wise, the number of cycling enthusiasts in the U.S. is quite small (compared, for example, to the number of people who enjoy watching NFL football).  Still, it has increased a ton since cycling was the province of a fringe group of hippies in the early 70s, and the number of LAB members versus actual cycling enthusiasts is pathetic.

Finally, I'd like you to consider the randonneur movement.  In my opinion, this is the group of cyclists with whom people like you and I have the most kinship.  Every randonneour, every Potomac Pedaler, every person who ever signed up to ride a brevet, or Boston-Montreal-Boston, or Bicycle Across Missouri–heck, everyone who ever did one of these State rides–should be a LAB member.  But they're not.  Not by a long shot.

RUSA is a relatively new group.  I remember when they staged their coup, it couldn't have been much more than ten years ago.  They now have a respectable number of members, when you consider that all of them routinely ride double-centurys.  Maybe a third of the total LAB membership.  These are the people who most closely mirror our cycling ethos.  I wonder how many of them are LAB members.

Bill, I think a new organization is in order, and I think we ought to look to the randonneurs first.  If you have any thoughts I'd love to hear them.  I have a ton more thoughts, heck, I've spent decades thinking about this.  The LAB (I still cringe at the name change) shouldn't be about urban planning, fear mongering, and preaching.  It should be an organization that promotes and celebrates the real essence of cycling, which, I admit, is a sport that will never be for everyone.

Finally, thanks for all you've done for the League.  I don't know how you stuck with it as long as you did.

--
Anthony DeAngelo


Comment from Bruce Mackey

Monday, December 13, 2010

It was with a great deal of sadness but also with a degree of inevitability that I read your resignation.  Thank you for all you have done for the League and for cycling.  If you ever travel to California, I would very much like to meet and talk to you about the League and way to promote cycling.  Thank you again.

--
Bruce Mackey
savvycyclist_AT_yahoo_DOT_com.
LTC, USA (Ret.)
LCI #546, Coach
LAB Life Member (1979)

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Comment from Joyce Halstead

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bill, I met you at a long ago GEAR, and have always admired your work in cycling.  I rode to an LAB event several years ago with a friend who was familiar with the change in direction you refer to and was dismayed about it, same as you are.  One of our local ECIs chose not to renew his license due to the 'bike facilities' focus of the Bicycle Friendly Community program.

I'm sorry to see you resign as I admire what you have done, but on the other hand, I understand that banging your head against the wall gets tiresome after a while.  Good luck with LAB reform.

--
Tailwinds,
Joyce Halstead
Midland, MI


Comment from Christopher Marsh

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bill,

Sorry to see you have left the LAB board.  The League really needs people like yourself on the Board to remind them of what the membership really wants.  I know it has been real frustrating the past years watching the direction the League has taken.

You were the only one who would listen to me earlier this year when I saw that the National Rally was going to be a disaster.  It was being run for the most part by non-League individuals who were only interested in making money.  The chair of the Rally, who was the local head of the ADA, quit a week before the event.  As a result, there were only 53 registered riders for the rally and the event lost over $3000.  It wasn't as bad as the 1986 Kodak ride, but it sure stands out.  Is there even going to be a 2011 national rally?

I am working hard to make bicycling better here in New Mexico with the New Mexico Touring Society and the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico.  The Bicycle Coalition sent out a message to all its members urging them to sign the LAB Reform petition.  Despite LAB giving New Mexico a failing grade in education in their Bicycle Friendly States ranking, the Bicycle Coalition is doing more here for education than any place I've lived.  With a population of less than two million we have around 50 LCIs and just had our second state LCI conference.  The Bicycle Coalition even has a full time LCI coordinator for New Mexico.

I hope you will vote of Diane Albert, current President of the Bicycle Coalition of New Mexico in the upcoming LAB board election.  She has done a lot for us here.

Be sure to let me know what LAB Reform decides to do next.

--
Chris Marsh
LAW Life Member 755
LAW Board member 1985 - 1989


Comment from John Bare

Monday, December 13, 2010

Bill,

I have mixed feelings about your resignation from the board.  You were one of the few voices for the needs of “real cyclists”, but I fully comprehend your thoughtfully composed letter of resignation.  I respect your courage to be so forceful in voicing your concerns.  I thank you for your years of service.

--
John Bare


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Posted 12/16/10