“What do bikes mean to you?” from the Alliance for Biking & Walking

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by Brighid O’Keane, interim executive director

Bikes bring people together. Riding a bicycle is an affordable, healthy, and fun way to engage with the people and places in your community. The Alliance for Biking & Walking is a coalition of more than 200 state and local bicycle and pedestrian advocacy organizations across North America. For each organization, each staff and board, each member and volunteer, there is a unique and personal reason why bicycles are important.

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And May is an exciting month when a spotlight is cast on the work we do in our communities all year long. For each new person who jumps on his or her bike, or feels a new sense of pride in riding, our movement is growing and connecting our transportation choice to our work, family, home, opportunities, and all the other things we care about.

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How are some advocates maximizing National Bike Month? How can you ensure your organization gets the most out of a month with so many opportunities to bolster the visibility of the important work you do in your community? Here are some tips from advocates in Long Beach, Seattle, and Washington DC:

  • Work with community partners – major employers, bike shops, local non-profits, or places of worship – to enhance the reach, impact, and success of your event or programming
  • Find new audiences and activate supporters with social media
  • Don’t start with the bike – think about the things that inspire people’s passions and connect bicycling to that activity in a fun and effective way
  • Be clear about what you can offer, whether it’s safety training, educational materials, or free schwag
  • Make participation easy
  • Make it about more than biking to work; encourage people to bike to all of their destinations

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For more ideas for maximizing Bike Month and keep the momentum going beyond May, read and listen to the Alliance’s recent webinar. You’ll learn more about the work of the Alliance for Biking & Walking as well as becoming involved with your local advocacy organization.

“What do bikes mean to you?” from Rails to Trails Conservancy

rails_to_trails-logo-headerBy Katie Harris, Communications Coordinator, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Imagine a country where you can safely get everywhere you need to go on bike or foot. The infrastructure suits your needs, your kids can ride along with you without concern, and a trip to the grocery store on two wheels is a no-brainer. It’s a nation of connected networks, with trail systems as the norm—not the exception.

At Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC), that’s the world we’re working toward, and, clearly, bikes are an integral element to that envisioned future. Let us show you how.

Bikes allow us to…

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail - Photo by Jim Brown

Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail – Photo by Jim Brown

Explore

With more than 22,000 miles of multi-use trails in the United States, there is a lot of exploring to be done! Bikes allow us to see new areas but also allow us to discover our own backyards from a different perspective. Traveling by bike, whether it’s a day trip on your favorite rail-trail or a multi-day excursion on a regional trail network, you can truly explore and experience a place…the sights, sounds, topography and climate.

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Grand Teton Multi-Use Pathway, WY – photo by Camrin Dengel

And while bikes are only one way to explore the trails that connect the country, we think they’re a pretty great way to do it!

Transform

Bicycling allows us to transform our lives by giving us the opportunity to prioritize health and family, all wrapped up into one activity! A bicycle is a simple, but transformative, machine. (Few would argue otherwise.)

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Photo by Jillian Imilkowski

As more active-transportation infrastructure projects—including connected, regional trail networks—are planned and constructed across the country, it’ becoming much easier for folks to integrate biking into their daily routines—transforming sedentary, “business-as-usual” habits into vibrant and active ways of life.

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Mon River Trail, WV, MCCVB- photo by Steve Shaluta

Connect

Not only do bikes allow us to explore and transform, they also connect us with where we need to go. RTC has helped build trail connections through rural areas that spool out over a hundred miles of open prairie, snake through mountain passes and cruise along river canyons. We’ve also helped facilitate connections within urban cores, across state lines and between towns and suburbs, linking communities along vibrant corridors in much the same way as the railroads did in their heyday. And we don’t intend to stop anytime soon!

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W&OD Trail, Virginia – photo by Milo-Bateman

To us, bikes are more than just tools or toys for recreation. They are active transportation’s secret weapon, a means by which to improve our health and well-being while broadening the mobility and access of every member of every community across the nation.

“What do bikes mean to you?” from IMBA

imba_logoby Michelle Barker, IMBA Upper Midwest Region Director

I’m lucky, as I have one of the best jobs in the world—a job that is focused on bikes. As the Upper Midwest Region Director for the International Mountain Bicycling Association, I interact daily with volunteers, land managers and the cycling industry through conversations about mountain biking, how to make it better and how to create more of it. I regularly travel across the Midwest and—along the way—experience great riding in our backyards, National Forest lands, state parks, county and city parks, and even inside old warehouses that have been transformed into all-weather bike parks.

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But mountain biking means so much more to me than just riding; it is a conduit for a variety of opportunities and itself represents opportunity.

In my line of work, bikes are an opportunity to engage with amazing volunteers who give generously of their time, energies and resources. Across the country, passionate volunteers set aside time on their weekends and take time off from their vocations to clear trail debris, meet with partner agencies and host exciting events—all because they desire to provide great mountain biking for themselves, their friends and their communities.

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I have witnessed how mountain biking can also be an opportunity for youth to experience outdoor recreation in their hometowns. I have two boys, ages 11 and 13, and they travel on many of my mountain bike trips to places like Copper Harbor, MI; Cuyuna, MN; and the Twin Cities. But they learned to ride and love riding on their local mountain bike trails, like so many other young people.

Mountain biking also opens the door to community activism and advocacy. My previous career was in education and, so often as a teacher, I heard complaints about apathetic youth. Through mountain biking, I have seen students attend public input meetings, write letters to elected officials, work on mapping projects and engage in conservation projects, all because they love to ride.

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Trails provide a unique opportunity to step off the metaphorical merry-go-round of a responsible adult life and just enjoy being outside on your bike. A quick lunchtime ride clears away the clutter in my brain and creates a happier, more productive me for afternoon work. Riding before work (or to work) puts me in a better place to tackle the day’s challenges and celebrate the day’s successes.

Riding singletrack is an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, and I absolutely love to mountain bike with my girlfriends! We all lead busy lives, so mountain biking is our opportunity to catch up, get outdoors, learn something new and sneak in some exercise. We come away tired, happy, re-energized and full of great, new stories.

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Mountain biking also creates special opportunities for travel. I have traveled with my family across much of the U.S. and even into Canada simply to ride bicycles in each other’s company. Along the way, we experienced excellent trails in each of our destinations and met like-minded people who remain lifelong friends.

Bikes—specifically mountain bikes—create opportunities to meet wonderful, passionate people, ride amazing trails across the country (and around the world), engage in local advocacy efforts, experience outdoor recreation, decompress and enjoy time with friends and family. Bikes are my passion, my avocation and—proudly—my vocation.

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“What do bikes mean to you?” from People for Bikes

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PeopleForBikes has more than a million individual supporters, which means that when you ask what bikes mean to us, you’re actually asking what they mean to each one of those people. With a million individuals you might get a million different answers, and we think that’s just fine. And just like there isn’t one kind of PeopleForBikes supporter, there isn’t one answer to what bikes mean to those who ride. Here are a few ways we could answer that question.

Bikes mean a sense of adventure, on roads or on mountain trails.

For lots of our supporters, biking is how they explore their world. Some of them might do it by riding 100 miles on nearby roads, while others prefer to pedal over rocks and roots on mountain biking trails. Some people travel the world, others find adventure right out their front door. To us, bikes mean discovery, no matter where and how you ride.

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Ride on Chicago – Photo by Jamie Kripke

Bikes mean bonding for friends and families who bike together.

PeopleForBikes sees bicycling as a perfect way to unite people. Parents and children, neighbors and teammates, to us bikes mean fun for everyone. Our goal is to make every bike ride better, so you can enjoy it whether you’re a beginning rider out for the first time or an experienced bicyclist who goes out every week rain or shine.

Bikes mean affordable and convenient transportation for commuters.

Whether you own your own bike, or you use a bike share, biking for transportation is a big part of what bikes mean to us. We support and fund ways to integrate bikes and cycling into the community, like bike lanes, because biking for transportation is what motivates many PeopleForBikes supporters to ride each day.

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Bikes mean victory for competitive bike riders.

The same routes that people take to work Monday through Friday often become part of a racecourse on the weekend. For those riders who get suited up in head-to-toe spandex and ride like the wind, bikes are more than just a tool for getting from point A to point B. PeopleForBikes is for these people too. From downhill mountain biking, to cyclocross, to road racing, bikes are a great way to get the competitive juices going.

What all these different people have in common is that they love biking because of the way it makes them feel. Commuters, recreational riders and racers alike can all agree that when you ride a bike, you feel better. Some call it meditation, others say it’s a form of therapy. We call it shedding the monster. The anger and frustration melts away and you turn from a growling beast into the best version of yourself. Our latest video, Shed the Monster, is our way of saying that when you ride a bike, good things happen. This is what bikes really mean to us, no matter how you ride.

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“What do bikes mean to you?”: Guest Post from the League of American Bicyclists

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The League of American Bicyclists is the oldest bicycle advocacy organization in the country. Founded in 1880, the League believes bikes bring people together.

When more people ride bikes, life is better for everyone; communities are safer, stronger and better connected; our nation is healthier, economically stronger, environmentally cleaner and more energy independent.

So, “what do bikes mean to you?” To us, bikes provide the path to that better life for everyone.

Our mission is to lead that movement to create a bicycle-friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change. Our vision is of a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.

The League has sponsored National Bike Month since 1956, and we look forward to celebrating bikes with local communities near and far every May. But National Bike Month is so much more than 31 days in May.  It’s a celebration of bikes; an impetus to get rolling again; a gateway to riding more often; a time to evangelize the beauty of bikes; and much, much more.

League of American Bicyclists Jim Oberstar Memorial Bike Ride

Jim Oberstar Memorial Ride at 2015 National Bike Summit – Photo by Brian Palmer – Courtesy of League of American Bicyclists

National Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day are often cited as the month’s flagship events, occurring the third week and third Friday of May, respectively. Indeed, bike commuting has grown by 62% from 2000 to 2014 — but Bike Month is about so much more than just getting to and from the office.

Everyone can take a leading role in organizing events for Bike Month, whether you’re part of a city government, advocacy group, local business, bike shop, school or any other group interested in making your community better.

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Thousands of organizations, many in the more than 325 League-designated Bicycle Friendly Communities, organize, plan and host events throughout the month of May, introducing bicycling to new riders, cultivating local bike culture and  helping build momentum among the already converted.

The momentum is building: With growing cultural awareness around health and wellness, sustainability and economic savings, bicycling is being seen by new and broader audiences as a simple solution to many complex problems, from reducing obesity rates to increasing mobility options.

And with the help of folks like you, we’ll be able to carry that momentum from Bike Month forward throughout the year. Learn more about all the things the League does throughout the year — from helping businesses, communities and universities become more bike-friendly to uniting the voices of bicyclists on Capitol Hill and amplifying the voices of women, people of color and youth in the bike movement – at bikeleague.org.

May is Bike Month at Performance Bicycle

May is National Bike Month and we’re marking the occasion by helping people across the country get out on their bikes and by making cycling more accessible through support of People for Bikes.

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From May 4-10, cyclists can bring their bikes, no matter where they were originally bought, into any of Performance Bicycle’s 100+ nationwide locations to receive a free safety inspection to get ready for national Bike to Work Week, May 11-15. A Performance Bicycle specialist or Spin Doctor mechanic will take about 5 minutes to inspect the main components of each bike to ensure the gears, brakes, tires and wheels are in working order.

“Each year, we look forward to National Bike Month and kicking it off with free safety inspections to help new and experienced cyclists get out and ride,” said Performance Bicycle CEO David Pruitt.

Performance Bicycle has partnered with PeopleForBikes, a charitable foundation with a goal of making every ride better by collaborating with riders, businesses, community leaders and elected officials to improve cycling infrastructure.  Cyclists can make an in-store or online donation of $2 to support PeopleForBikes’ mission of by creating more trails, bike parks and protected bike lanes. Performance will match up to $10,000 of all donations collected. “We are very excited to be partnering with PeopleForBikes.  Our combined advocacy efforts for improved cycling infrastructure across the country are essential in making cycling more accessible and enjoyable for everyone,” said Pruitt. “It’s really quite simple – cyclists need more and safer places to ride.”

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All Performance Bicycle stores will lead teams in the PeopleForBikes National Bike Challenge, a nationwide event running May through September that unites thousands bicyclists across the country.  All cyclists, no matter what level of experience, are invited to join their local store’s team where they can log their miles and find support and encouragement from other cyclists in their area.  Riders join their local store team by creating an account on the National Bike Challenge website and searching “Performance Bicycle (City Name).”

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All 100+ retail locations will be hosting free cycling clinics on Thursdays and Saturdays that will provide tips and tricks on maintenance and repair, getting back into cycling and riding with others. The full schedule is below:

  • May 2 – Getting Back On The Bike
  • May 7Basic Bike Maintenance And Commuting Tips
  • May 9 – Basic Bike Maintenance
  • May 16 – How To Ride With Other People
  • May 23 – Riding With Kids (a clinic for parents and children)
  • May 28 – Brake, Gear And Derailleur
  • May 30 – Trailside And Roadside Repair

We’ll also be sharing photos, tips of the day and more throughout the month of May on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. And we’re hosting a photo contest where cyclists are encouraged to use the hashtag #mybikemonth when posting their cycling photos for a chance to win 1 of 2 bikes!

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Women’s Pro Cycling: La Course by Le Tour de France

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La Course by Le Tour de France

The upcoming La Course by Le Tour de France race is going to shine a spotlight on women’s pro cycling, as top women’s teams will be competing on the same finishing circuit in Paris just hours before the final stage of the men’s Tour de France, including the famous finish on the Champs Elysees. While this 90km race is not the same as having a full 3 week Grand Tour, holding it on the same day and location as the final stage of the men’s race means that it will get coverage for an elite women’s race unlike anything that’s happened before. We are excited to watch a great race and see an emphasis on women’s pro cycling – especially the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team racing on their Diamondback bikes!

Equal pay for equal pain

A few weeks ago we got the opportunity to see some of these pro cyclists in action at the Philly Cycling Classic, one of the toughest one day races on the women’s cycling calendar. The slogan of the race was “equal pay for equal pain”, as the men’s and women’s races featured equal prize money. The race was a fantastic showcase for women’s cycling, with a closely fought competition only settled on the last climb of the Manayunk Wall, when Evelyn Stevens pulled out victory in a ferocious sprint.

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Q+A session with top female pros at the Philly Cycling Classic

Importance of sponsoring women’s pro cycling

One of the most interesting parts of the weekend was the chance to hear directly from the pros at a question and answer session before the race. Before the cyclists spoke, Karen Bliss, Vice President of Marketing for Fuji, talked about how important it was for Fuji to sponsor riders and teams – for product development, brand recognition, and authority in the cycling world. Fuji puts a special focus on supporting and developing women’s teams because they see the potential for growth – Karen is an accomplished former professional rider herself, a seven-time national champion on the road and track, and sits on the UCI women’s cycling commission. Also speaking was Lisa Nutter, the wife of the Mayor of Philadelphia – she is an avid cyclist and a huge advocate for cycling in Philadelphia. Mrs. Sutter got back into cycling in her 40s, and now seriously competes on the track and the road – she was a big influence on the “equal pay for equal pain” idea.

 Can we compete with the men? We’d like to find out!

As the pros got the chance to answer questions, it became clear that they are just as dedicated, motivated and competitive as the male pros, but their opportunities for exposure and financial success were not the same. Alison Powers, the current US national road, criterium and time trial champion, spoke about there needed to be a change of mindset for cycling fans, promoters, and her fellow female pros – they needed to create an expectation for better treatment and improved exposure. This would lead to better teams, races, and opportunities to grow the sport. Her fellow pros train as much as the men, 8-20 hours a week, but they don’t train for the same distance since the UCI limits their races to 140km. When asked if female pros could compete in a men’s race, Powers and other replied that if they did train for the same distance as the men, they could probably hang in the race – maybe not to the end, but they’d like the chance to find out!

So the biggest difference between the men and women pro riders was in the opportunities they had to succeed. When asked if they also worked full time in addition to their racing, almost every pro in attendance raised her hand to say that they had to work another job – this might be expected at a lower level men’s team, but these were some of the top women’s teams in the world. That’s why the opportunity to showcase their talent at a showcase as big as La Course by Le Tour de France is such a big deal. We hope that it opens some doors, and some eyes, for just how entertaining women’s pro cycling can be.

What do you think would improve the acceptance of women’s pro cycling?

A Cycling Tour of Philadelphia with Fuji Bikes

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Cycling on the Schuylkill River Trail in downtown Philly

A few weeks ago we got to visit Fuji Bikes in their hometown of Philadelphia, PA, and one of the most interesting parts of our trip, other than riding up the infamously challenging Manayunk Wall, was seeing what the City of Brotherly Love has done to welcome cyclists as a part of the city. We got to ride all over the city with our hosts from Fuji Bikes, and we were constantly impressed by how cycling was incorporated into the fabric of the neighborhoods – no doubt one of the main reasons that Philadelphia was recently ranked the 6th most bikeable city in the US.

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Cycling sharrows were prominent on city streets

In the downtown areas of the city, we hardly ever rode on streets that did not have bike lanes or prominent sharrows to indicate that cyclists had the right of way. And folks on bikes definitely took advantage of this infrastructure, with commuters, transportation riders, and recreational cyclists out in force on the city streets. The city government is a big supporter of bike riders, even closing down a stretch of Martin Luther King, Jr Drive to car traffic (along the Schuylkill River) on summer weekends so that cyclists have priority to ride and race.

And speaking of recreation, the bi-directional Schuylkill River Trail was packed with coexisting joggers, walkers and cyclists on most days – which is no wonder since it was such an idyllic spot and easily accessible from downtown. Running from the historic Center City, past the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home of the famous “Rocky Steps”), and historic Boathouse Row, and out along the Schuylkill River into the countryside past Valley Forge – the trail is a fantastic outlet for city riders who want to get away from busy city roads. One stop along the trail that shouldn’t be missed is the cycling-friendly Manayunk neighborhood, with its absurdly steep climbs and bicycle-friendly businesses – definitely stop for lunch at Winnie’s Le Bus Manayunk, where they will loan you a bike lock while you eat!

All in all we had a great time cycling around Philadelphia – it’s got more to offer than just the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall (although you should definitely check those out if you come to visit), with a vibrant cycling scene and easy access to scenic roads and trails from downtown. So next time that you visit the City of Brotherly Love, bring your bike and go for a ride!

Check out the gallery below for some views from our rides:

Team NetApp Endura Visits Fuji’s Home Office

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to visit the biggest one day bike race in the US, the Philly Cycling Classic, thanks to an invite from our friends at Fuji Bikes. We had a great time checking out the excitement of the race (especially the finish up the famed Manayunk Wall), but the highlight of the trip was a chance to visit the home office of Fuji Bikes (and their sister brands in the Advanced Sports International or ASI family: Kestrel, Breezer and SE Bikes) with the members of the NetApp team, after the race.

Members of Team NetApp posed for a photo with the Fuji Bikes team

Members of Team NetApp posed for a photo with the Fuji Bikes team, including CEO Pat Cunnane (on the right)

ASI moved to their current headquarters in northern Philadelphia, from New Jersey, in 2004 so that they could triple the size of their warehouse.We followed along as the members of Team NetApp got a chance to meet everyone at the ASI offices, especially the bike design team. We learned more about the product development process, from assessing the market and looking at past sales, to talking to customers, attending trade shows, talking to dealers – even reading every bicycle magazine and good old-fashioned research on the internet. It’s definitely an in-depth process! Just the design process for a new bike can take over a year, and it’s not uncommon for a bike to go from concept to delivery to market in 18 months to 2 years.

We also got to learn more about the ASI/Fuji culture – needless to say they are really into bikes! There is a full Fuji demo fleet in their warehouse so that any employee can check out any type of bike for a month. Even though they are located in Philadelphia, they’re also building a full cyclocross course on the grounds near their warehouse, along with some mountain bike trails. And remember the Norcom Straight triathlon/time trial bike? Norcom Road is a favorite stretch of test road just a short ride from their offices. Fuji is also a huge presence in the local cycling community, with one of their main focuses being the Cadence Cycling Foundation – a group that engages youth through the sport of cycling to help them grow into healthy, responsible, and confident adults.

One of the highlights of the tour was the chance for everyone at ASI to have lunch and chat with the members of the NetApp team, all-rounder Blaz Jarc from Slovenia, classics rider Ralf Matzka from Germany, Jonathan McEvoy from the UK (11th place finisher in Philly),  all-rounder Erick Rowsell from the UK, mountain specialist Frantisek Padour from the Czech Republic (who finished 12th in Philly), and Director Sportif Christian Pomer from Austria (a former pro cyclist himself). Fuji associates got the chance to pepper the members of Team NetApp with questions.

They described their Altamira racing bikes as a good quality all-around bike – light, stiff, and with good handling. The hardest race they’d ever done? Without a doubt, Paris Roubaix – they made it to the end, but the Arenberg cobble section was just super hard, since you go straight into it at a really high speed. They also compared Philly Cycling Classic to Europe and said that it was a different style. At Philly the racing was a lot more aggressive, and they were always fighting for position as it never settled down. In Europe, the racing starts hard, but then a break goes, it settles down, and it only gets really hard again at the end. But they loved the atmosphere on the Manayunk Wall (where they may, or may not, have received beer handups at the end of the race).

The team even talked a bit about how they got started in bike racing – most started in their early teens riding for development programs. In England, their academy system finds kids in grade schools and progresses them through their national Olympic training program – they were full time riders from an early age, but not pro until a few years ago.  They also spoke about the stagiare program – wherein a professional team takes on ‘cycling interns’ starting in August. Young riders are released from their U23 team and get what amounts to a try out for a pro team, for free. It’s a big step up from the lower level, and the riders are under a huge amount of pressure to make a good impression in a few months. They even spoke about what they do in their off time – other than ride bikes, they just like to take a few weeks off the bike and not think about racing at all!

It was a great visit with the ASI/Fuji team, and with Team NetApp – we’re excited to cheer for the team as they compete in the Tour de France in July! To get a little sense of what pro racing is like from inside the peloton, check out this video we put together from the Manayunk Wall at the Philly Cycling Classic:

Rep. David Price Visits Performance

U.S. Representative David Price (NC) visited our offices a few weeks ago

U.S. Representative David Price (NC) visited our offices a few weeks ago

A few weeks ago U.S. Representative David Price (NC) was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to visit our offices in Chapel Hill and meet with some of our employees. After giving him a tour of our offices and telling him a bit about what we do, we had the opportunity to ask him some questions about the role of the bicycle in American transportation, what’s on the horizon with transportation legislation, and what’s up with those Tiger Grants?

U.S. Rep David Price and our CEO tour the Performance offices

U.S. Rep David Price and our CEO tour the Performance offices

Rep. Price touring our warehouse

Rep. Price touring our warehouse

He answered all of our staff’s questions, and shed a lot of light on what is happening in America right now with transportation policy.

Round table discussion with Rep. David Price

Round table discussion with Rep. David Price

The big things that he stressed were:

  1. Transportation policy will depend on people who care about transportation policy, individual health, wellbeing, the environment and livable spaces taking a more active role in government decision making, at the local, state and federal level
  2. Transportation policy isn’t just about paving more roads, it’s about “transportation enhancements” that include rail, transit alternatives, pedestrians and cyclists
  3. On a local level, the more specific we can be with infrastructure improvement plans the better our chances of getting the plans implemented.
Rep. Price also met with many of our warehouse staff

Rep. Price also met with many of our warehouse staff

In short, he highlighted the fact that we need to fight for better transportation alternatives, and for bikes to have a place, and encouraged us all– and you– to keep your representatives at the local, state and national level accountable when it comes to legislation that affects us as cyclists.

 

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