Guest Author - Sharry Miller
In 1880, a group of dedicated cyclists banded together and formed the first organized cycling group in America, the League of American Wheelmen. Bicyclists were then known as “wheelmen” and were challenged in the pursuit of pedaling happiness by rutted dirt and gravel roads, antagonistic horsemen, wagons and pedestrians. Bicycles were even banned in some towns as being dangerously fast and a hazard to other travelers! Within eight years there were over 100,000 League members across the country advocating for bicyclists’ rights, as well as for paved roads – even before automobiles were commonplace.
Over the next 100 years the League went through feasts and famines, and was even disbanded twice. Its last reincarnation occurred in 1965, and in 1994 it was renamed the League of American Bicyclists. The League now boasts over 300,000 affiliated cyclists, including 25,000 individual members and 700 affiliated organizations.
The League’s mission is “to promote bicycling for fun, fitness and transportation and work through advocacy and education for a bicycle-friendly America.” It fulfills this mission through a variety of education and advocacy programs, including the Safe Routes to School program, BikeEd program, the National Bike Summit every March, and the Share the Road campaign. It also assists many local clubs with their advocacy work and actively promotes local bike summits.
If you are interested in promoting safe cycling in your community, the League can help. It has a League Cycling Instructor program that certifies individuals to teach Smart Cycling classes to children and adults. Training is carried out through instructor seminars in various locations around the country.
The League also publishes a bi-monthly magazine, American Bicyclist . This full-color publication not only promotes the League’s activities and agendas, but includes stories to inform and inspire cyclists of all stripes. Published bi-monthly, a magazine subscription is a benefit included with all current memberships.
Another benefit of League membership, at the Silver Spoke level ($110 or more), is their nationwide emergency roadside assistance program for you and your bike. They have a relationship with the Better World Club that allows them the ability to take you and your bike to the nearest repair shop, or home, within 30 miles from pick up. There is a maximum of two service calls per covered member per year.
The League of American Bicyclists is a shining start in the galaxy of bicycle advocacy organization. Information on membership and programs is available on the League’s website, www.bikeleague.org. Consider joining and supporting their important work.