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Old 12-27-05, 02:03 PM   #1
iamtim
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League of American Bicyclists - Fraud?

On October 20th I joined the League of American Bicyclists at the Advocate level. I pretty much joined to get the the cool water bottle that comes with Advocate level or higher membership.

Since then, I've sent at least two e-mails to bikeleague@bikeleague.org inquiring about the water bottle I have not yet received, and I've been completely ignored.

Has anyone else joined at that level? Has anyone else actually received the promised water bottle? Or is this all a sham to get people to join?
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Old 12-27-05, 02:22 PM   #2
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Hardly seems worth the bother as a scam. Water bottles are cheap at the wholesale end of things. It costs more to mail them than the bottle costs.
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Old 12-27-05, 02:47 PM   #3
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I'm new to the "cycling community" myself, and I was thinking of joining LAB -- but then I ran across these guys: http://www.labreform.org/

If they're right, LAB has money troubles and management issues. Could be your water bottle got lost in all the chaos that supposedly swirls around them these days.

I would really like to know more about LAB and the LAB/LAB Reform split controversy, if anyone has opinions -- or even better, factual information.
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Old 12-27-05, 02:59 PM   #4
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Interesting link to the LAB reform site, never looked at a criticism of the LAB....

I had dinner last night with a friend of mine who runs a youth group for the Salvation Army, and he compared the salaries of the UnitedWay chair (m/l $350,000 a year) and other 'charitable' CEO compensation to the Salvation Army's chief officer's compensation ($13,000 annually)

If their heart was in it, the LAB's CEO would be acting gratis or at a much lower salary until their deficit spending was corrected...

I don't have any specifics about the LAB, but it should be for the wheelmen first and the lobbying/executive compensation second.
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Old 12-27-05, 03:49 PM   #5
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Interesting link to the LAB reform site, never looked at a criticism of the LAB...
I agree. I wish I'd seen that site before I dropped my $50.
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Old 12-27-05, 04:47 PM   #6
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This thread saved me a few bucks.
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Old 12-27-05, 05:42 PM   #7
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I don't understand all the issues yet. I understand some people belong to both LAB and LAB/reform?
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Old 12-27-05, 06:03 PM   #8
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I don't understand all the issues yet. I understand some people belong to both LAB and LAB/reform?
You understand correctly. Lab-Reform consists for the most part of a couple of dozen (AFAIK) disgruntled LAB members, some of them life members, some of whom were formerly officials of the organization. One was the former president of the organization, John Forester. All are on the outs with the current organization. Some are ardent disciples of Forester brand advocacy such as Bruce Rosar. All seem intent in emphasizing the promotion of Vehicular Cycling™ training as the top priority for LAB. If you agree that the promotion of the interests of club cyclists, and selling Forester brand Vehicular Cycling™ educational programs are the chief priorities for a national cycling organization, Lab-Reform is for you.
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Old 12-27-05, 06:53 PM   #9
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So, ILTB -- are you pro-LAB? Are you a member?

I like the League's history, and I'm basically in favor of their stated core goals:
  • "Changing the look of America, town by town, city by city by encouraging communities to provide better facilities for cyclists and publicly rewarding them for doing so."

    This sounds pretty good, but how do you answer the criticism that they reward any facilities ("facilities" means bike lanes 95% of the time, doesn't it?), regardless of whether the facilities are well- or poorly-designed?

  • "Providing materials and training courses to help people feel more secure about getting on their bikes."

    The phrase "to help people feel more secure" is troubling. Shouldn't this be "to help people bicycle more safely"? You know, actually safe, instead of just seemingly? But maybe that's just semantics. The courses described on the Bike Ed Course Descriptions page look a lot like VC to me.

  • "Leadership at the national, state and local levels."

    This is what cycling needs, and the most attractive thing these guys bring to the table. Is their leadership effective?

  • "National sponsorship of Bike Month and Bike to Work Day."

    I'm in favor of anything to get more people cycling and aware of cycling, but to me every day is Bike to Work Day and there are 12 Bike Months each year!

I also notice that LAB is active in dealing with legal issues, which seems to me a top priority for cycling advocacy.

So at least in theory they're on the right track, but they also seem to have some issues. Not answering e-mails is a warning sign, as far as I'm concerned. LAB reform's concerns about financial management, Board/bylaw policies and so forth, also seem well-founded. I'd like to hear opinions (and dare I hope -- facts) from people who know what's going on.

I'm all in favor of reform from within -- that's what LAB Reform advocates -- but I'd like to know whether that's a necessary or realistic goal.

I'm not trying to talk anyone out of joining LAB; I just want more opinions -- and if possible, information -- before I join.

Last edited by budster; 12-28-05 at 01:04 AM.
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Old 12-27-05, 06:56 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by webist
This thread saved me a few bucks.
I joined the League as a life memer, back in the early 80's. (yes, I am older than most members here. Soon, I can post in the 50+ area. )

My advice right now: Keep your money in your pocket. It's not the same League I joined years ago when it was truly a cyclist's advocacy group. The new president of the LAB is former Bicycling magazine publisher Mike Greehan. I don't know if this is good or not.

I've heard about the League's money problems, and internal schisms. I think it is even possible that the League could even go under. Have any of you heard that membership has been on the decline for the past five years?
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Old 12-27-05, 06:58 PM   #11
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You understand correctly. Lab-Reform consists for the most part of a couple of dozen (AFAIK) disgruntled LAB members, some of them life members, some of whom were formerly officials of the organization. One was the former president of the organization, John Forester. All are on the outs with the current organization. Some are ardent disciples of Forester brand advocacy such as Bruce Rosar. All seem intent in emphasizing the promotion of Vehicular Cycling™ training as the top priority for LAB. If you agree that the promotion of the interests of club cyclists, and selling Forester brand Vehicular Cycling™ educational programs are the chief priorities for a national cycling organization, Lab-Reform is for you.
I love the trademarking ILTB - you and I are seeing eye-to-eye way too much lately...we best pick a fight soon or people will talk!
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Old 12-27-05, 07:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by trackhub
I joined the League as a life memer, back in the early 80's. (yes, I am older than most members here. Soon, I can post in the 50+ area. )

My advice right now: Keep your money in your pocket. It's not the same League I joined years ago when it was truly a cyclist's advocacy group. The new president of the LAB is former Bicycling magazine publisher Mike Greehan. I don't know if this is good or not.

I've heard about the League's money problems, and internal schisms. I think it is even possible that the League could even go under. Have any of you heard that membership has been on the decline for the past five years?
Back when they were "Wheelmen" it was OK, now it is all about how to play the lobby game, while forgetting the individual cyclist.

Frankly I was shocked to see the change from Wheelmen to LAB... it started the whole road to political decline.
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Old 12-27-05, 07:10 PM   #13
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Back when they were "Wheelmen" it was OK, now it is all about how to play the lobby game, while forgetting the individual cyclist.

Frankly I was shocked to see the change from Wheelmen to LAB... it started the whole road to political decline.
Same thing happened to the NRA, which is why I am an ex-life member. OMG do I have to die to be an ex-life member? <looks over my shoulder nervously>
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Old 12-27-05, 07:15 PM   #14
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If any organization is in the red, and its executive director and board chooses salaries over financial stability, trouble is brewing on those balance books!


I think cyclists need a voice. Too bad the LAB is the best? choice.
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Old 12-27-05, 07:23 PM   #15
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If any organization is in the red, and its executive director and board chooses salaries over financial stability, trouble is brewing on those balance books!


I think cyclists need a voice. Too bad the LAB is the best? choice.

I tend to agree... what other organizations exist...

I was only familiar with Wheelmen. I understand that there is an American Bicycle something out there also...
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Old 12-27-05, 07:25 PM   #16
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If any organization is in the red, and its executive director and board chooses salaries over financial stability, trouble is brewing on those balance books!
I thought this was SOP for Fortune 500 companies!
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Old 12-27-05, 07:32 PM   #17
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Back when they were "Wheelmen" it was OK, now it is all about how to play the lobby game, while forgetting the individual cyclist.

Frankly I was shocked to see the change from Wheelmen to LAB... it started the whole road to political decline.
I think you are right. In his writings, Forester has called several ex-LAB executive directors "incompetent". Sadly, I think he may have been on to something.

I wonder what the League members of 1890's would think of the League today?
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Old 12-27-05, 07:44 PM   #18
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I am a member of The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I'd rather send my money to a local advocacy group where the benefits to ME and other SF cyclists are more immediate, and less of the money gets chewed up in beaurocracy and politics.
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Old 12-27-05, 08:05 PM   #19
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I am a member of The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. I'd rather send my money to a local advocacy group where the benefits to ME and other SF cyclists are more immediate, and less of the money gets chewed up in beaurocracy and politics.
I am of similar opinion, better to spend money locally. For Oregon cyclists, that would be the
Bicycle Transportation Alliance.
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Old 12-27-05, 08:53 PM   #20
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I am of similar opinion, better to spend money locally. For Oregon cyclists, that would be the
Bicycle Transportation Alliance.
I've got to chime in and agree here too. "Think globally, act locally" works as well for cycling as it does for other movements.

The LAB site always struck me as a bit pretentious anyway. Especially what they think passes for an example of their "History" or lack thereof. All it sez is "We built the national highway system".....for more "History" click here...lead to a charming letter with absolutely no meat on the bone whatsoever. Also an admission that they succeeded in having bicyclists needs considered seriously during the planning and implementation of the national highway system. A far cry from building it, I'd rather modest honesty from anyone claiming to represent me. Sensationalistic crap to get my $50.00 just doesn't fly, but they are in Washington
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Old 12-27-05, 09:08 PM   #21
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but they are in Washington
As if Washington has been a seat of wonderful decisions, of late...
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Old 12-27-05, 09:16 PM   #22
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Old 12-27-05, 09:42 PM   #23
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You understand correctly. Lab-Reform consists for the most part of a couple of dozen (AFAIK) disgruntled LAB members, some of them life members, some of whom were formerly officials of the organization. One was the former president of the organization, John Forester. All are on the outs with the current organization. Some are ardent disciples of Forester brand advocacy such as Bruce Rosar. All seem intent in emphasizing the promotion of Vehicular Cycling™ training as the top priority for LAB. If you agree that the promotion of the interests of club cyclists, and selling Forester brand Vehicular Cycling™ educational programs are the chief priorities for a national cycling organization, Lab-Reform is for you.
Oh, so this is where VC comes from. Scary.
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Old 12-28-05, 12:26 AM   #24
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You understand correctly. Lab-Reform consists for the most part of a couple of dozen (AFAIK) disgruntled LAB members, some of them life members, some of whom were formerly officials of the organization. One was the former president of the organization, John Forester. All are on the outs with the current organization. Some are ardent disciples of Forester brand advocacy such as Bruce Rosar. All seem intent in emphasizing the promotion of Vehicular Cycling™ training as the top priority for LAB. If you agree that the promotion of the interests of club cyclists, and selling Forester brand Vehicular Cycling™ educational programs are the chief priorities for a national cycling organization, Lab-Reform is for you.
You covered it pretty well, I have been around awhile myself and a longtime LAB member. Fred Oswald owns the reform LAB website. he ran for a LAB region 4 seat a few years ago, lost, claimed the board rigged the election and has been pitching a fit ever since. He is a Forrester diciple.
John Forrester and his supporters are very much anti-bike lane and anti-bikepath, they advocate that bicycles are traffic like automobiles and should be treated as such. Their idea is that if we allow the government to build seperate facilties that we will eventually be forced off the roads completely.I agree with their philosophy to an extent. But reality is a b!tch. IMO, that mantra worked ok back in the 70 and 80's but todays heavily traveled roads and poor surface conditions now make seperate facilities often a more practical and sometimes safer alternative in many urban areas


The current LAB board is more political and some come from political backgrounds. They take a broader approach of advocating not only for the right of access to public highways but also they are heavily involved in lobby for cycling's share of ISTEA ( intermodal surface transportation efficiency act)money What ISTEA does is require a portion of federal highway money be used for bicycle, pedestrian and public transit. For 2005 ISTEA authorized cycling and pedestrian related funding is about 3 billion (I am working from memory that figure may be off a few zeros) for cycling projects ISTEA usually covers 80% of the cost with state and local picking up 20%. Voters love railtrails and bike paths these days and politicians know that. That helps get LAB's foot in the door of these politicans and allows the LAB to push these guys on other cycling related issues.
As mentioned before the LAB is involved in this Kentucky tort case in which a cyclis was injured when he was forced off the road by a pickup pulling a trailer A jury ruled that the cylist should have gotten off the road and let the trailer pass. The case is on it's way to the Kentucky Supreme Court. if the cyclist ultimately loses if could have far reaching negative effects for cyclists right to be on public roads. LAB does pack a little weight.
Also previously mentioned: Forrester and his friends when they were running the LAB(or LAW then) they were focused on selling John's "Effective Cycling"™ it is now rebranded as Vehicular Cycling™. I took the effective cycling course 15 years ago and it is worthwhile especially to cyclists not experienced in dealing with traffic.
I can find a lot of fault with LAB. But until someone comes up with a more effective national representive I am going to continue to support them.

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Old 12-28-05, 07:13 AM   #25
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I think you are right. In his writings, Forester has called several ex-LAB executive directors "incompetent". Sadly, I think he may have been on to something.

I wonder what the League members of 1890's would think of the League today?
They might wish their similar backward thinking fossil Forester was back in charge.

Of course Forester called several ex-LAB executive directors "incompetent," he calls everybody who disagrees with him an "incompetent."

Does anyone, besides the members of LAB-Reform, believe the answer to improving LAB is to have individuals like John Forester, Bruce Rosar and similar single track Vehicular Cycling™ dogmatists present the case for cyclists and improved cycling conditions to decision makers in government? Is selling Vehicular Cycling™Educational Programs, and a policy consisting of hysterical ranting about bicycling facilities really the solution to improving the LAB organization, or the #1 priority for advocates of bicycling? IMO representation by such Vehicular Cycling™ crusaders is bicycling advocacy's and bicyclists' worse nightmare.
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