Here’s a little article which appeared in the November 1, 2013 issue of the bicycle trade journal, Bicycle Industry and Retailer News.
Can you say “Astroturf”?
I wouldn’t claim to represent the interests of the bicycle industry — but PeopleforBikes, a bicycle industry lobby — claims to represent my interests and those of other individual citizens, er, “consumers”.
For a while last summer it wasn’t possible to go to major bicycle or parts manufacturers’ Web sites without having a PeopleforBikes sign-up-and support popup blot out the start screen. Or as the article puts it,
[s]tarting in 2010 as a Bikes Belong campaign to gain 1 million pledges in support of bicycling, PeopleforBikes will now be the brand that represents all cycling interests — those of the industry as well as consumers.
— not that interests are even the same across the industry. There’s another article in the same issue of Bicycle Industry and Retailer News describing retail bicycle shops’ long-drawn-out problems with one brake manufacturer’s products. I might have concerns too if I bought a bicycle with those brakes, and not to speak of the thrust and scope of industry lobbying which, as you might imagine, is targeted almost entirely at getting government to spend your and my tax dollars on infrastructure projects which PeopleforBikes has decided will get more people to buy bicycles and related products. This has a very decided slant toward separated paths and barrier-separated bikeways on streets, because that is what non-bicyclists and infrequent bicyclists — the great majority of the American population — think they need.
I spend much more than the average person does on bicycle stuff, but I hold to my own opinions about what I buy, and about how to improve bicycling, thank you very much. You may read my opinions on bicycling politics on this blog, and about reliability, safety and good purchasing choices on sheldonbrown.com.
This isn’t the first post on this blog about these issues. It’s just that the one-big-happy-family claim has become more blatant with the rebranding.