From Quick Release TV...
But not everybody agrees that funding advocacy is a panacea.
Jay Townley told a room full of Britain’s best bike shops that the UK closely mirrored the bike business in the US. This wasn’t a good thing as he revealed that the US bicycle business has not kept pace with the growth of the US economy over the last eight years.
The total US bicycle market in retail dollars has stalled out at $6bn and has been essentially flat for the last three years. 2008 will see a continuation of this flat market trend:
...He complained that the US bike industry doesn’t pull together very well. It might not be able to afford a ‘Got milk‘-style* promotional campaign but it doesn’t even try. Instead, millions of dollars is put into pro bike teams, a marketing expense that influences enthusiasts, said Townley, but not a mainstream audience, which is where market growth will have to come from.
He said too much money is being funnelled into advocacy. He said fifteen years of funding advocacy programmes had resulted in no market growth. He would like to see money channelled into an awareness campaign instead, to influence new people to come into cycling. Obesity is at epidemic proportions but there’s no bike business campaign to explain the benefits of cycling to a mainstream audience.
Here's someone inside the industry saying that our present advocacy efforts are ineffective at getting more people onto their bicycles. This is the same 'heresy' that resulted in my banishment from the Thunderhead Alliance listserve. The vast bulk of so-called advocacy spending goes toward paint-and-pave schemes, bike parking facilities, and other concrete projects. Very little of it supports bicycling education. Townley isn't recommending an end to our present efforts. He's saying we need to establish new priorities and reach out to those potential cyclists behind the wheels of their cars.
Like I said at the start, it's an interesting idea. I'll have to think on it awhile.
Labels: bicycling advocacy