Bike Manufacturer says “Spend More on Bicycle Advocacy”

Posted by chdot on March 28, 2007

trek graph.jpg
“Bicycle advocacy” is American for cycle campaigning. John Burke, President of Trek USA, has created a PowerPoint presentation about why bike companies should increase their financial support of bicycle advocates and political lobbying groups.

The presentation is a conscious echo of the surprise ‘hit’ about Climate Change by Al Gore – An Inconvenient Truth. Burke is unlikely to find the time to do such an extensive tour as Gore did – after all he IS a President!

However the talk has so far been given twice, first at the National Bike Summit in Washington DC two weeks ago (available as audio plus the PowerPoint slides as PP and PDF at and again on Sunday to Taiwan’s bike industry leaders at the Taipei trade show.

The venues are significant, the first is the Capital of the gas guzzling world, the second is Capital of a major bike manufacturing country. Actually production of bicycles is increasing being done in ‘low wage’ countries, but Taiwan is still a key player which emerged as a world leader with the development of TIG welding for frames.

BikeBiz editor Carlton Reid has more on his site and has also posted a video of the talk and the actual PowerPoint slides on the web.

In Edinburgh Spokes has been (most effectively) campaigning for THIRTY years, with hardly a penny from anyone. Bike shops support Spokes by buying adverts in its publications and some money has come from Government sources for specific projects. Most Spokes income is from members and the sale of Spokes Maps.

The maps are direct spin off from campaigning. A new Edinburgh map is due in June and Spokes is working with Go Bike! (the Strathclyde Cycle Campaign) on a new map for Glasgow. In recent years other important bicycle promotional activities have been encouraged (and sometimes financially kick-started) by Spokes.

In 2002 Castlecliff Bicycle Workshop was created to recycle bikes, offer them to people without bikes, (initially by working with organisations dealing with homeless people), and selling surplus bikes to the general public. It was also a place where people could fix their own bikes and improve their skills.

This project developed into the Bike Station – initially at Waverley (Station) and now Causewayside. The Bike Station has added Cycle Training as a practical promotional ‘tool’.

The other significant spin-off is TryCycling in Edinburgh which has monthly rides for the “nervous and novice” which are giving people the confidence to cycle to work. It is also promoting cycling generally with stalls at various festivals and many mentions in the press. It is also responsible for some of the activities under the Craigmillar Cycles umbrella.

image from John Burke presentation
In the UK a levy on new bikes is paid by most manufacturers and importers to the Bike Hub this funds useful things including the bikeforall web site. Initially Scotland was ‘forgotten’ about and all the money was spent south of the border!

Trek’s John Burke says that for every $100 of sales, bike companies typically spend $3.90 on marketing, $1.60 on R&D but just 10 cents on advocacy. Equivalent figures for the UK have probably not been calculated but there can be no doubt that (for instance) spending by Transport for London to promote cycling (along with the Congestion Charge) has boosted cycling significantly (“In 2006/7, Transport for London invested £24.1m in cycling. This will rise to £36.1m in 2007/8. That increase now means London spends more on cycling than the whole of the rest of England put together”. BikeBiz story). The Council in Edinburgh has scored badly on ‘promotion’ in the past, but there have been some improvements recently.

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