One Street News

August-September 2015

Vol. 8, Issue 5

1. Bike Industry Stagnation
2. Paris to Go Car-Free on September 27
3. Resources – Flip: We Need Your Recommendations for Connecting Members
4. Hot Topics – Banning Cars to Clear the Sky

Bike Industry Stagnation

By: Sue Knaup, Executive Director

I recently wrote a post called Bike Industry Stagnation in our Defying Poverty with Bicycles blog about my frustration with the bike industry. It bubbled up because I was soon to travel to Las Vegas for the Interbike trade show, my 25th Interbike in 26 years. Please read the post and, if you share my frustration (or think I’m becoming too crotchety), please leave a comment. If you have ideas on how to shake our bike industry out of its trance, make sure to include them.

Upon arrive at the show, my dread was confirmed. The showroom floor was the same as it has been for a quarter of a century: full of bikes and accessories made to entice the same high-end customers.

But at the One Street booth, I enjoyed a pocket of relief as rare sorts gravitated our way. I could pick them out from the general crowd quite easily – they’d stop dead when they glimpse our books or banner or Bike Shift Levers, then approach slowly as if in disbelief. Our discussions were inspiring and refreshing as we quickly bridged the gap from shared frustration to particular solutions underway in their communities.

While I enjoyed many such discussions, here are a few that are likely to continue working with One Street to build on their successes and share their models with others around the world:

Inner City Cycling Connection – they are using their successful bike race in south-central Los Angeles to create a replicable model for inspiring inner city youth to take up bicycling and learn bicycle repair.

Project Bike Trip – founded to take care of two problems: 1) a lack of well-trained bicycle mechanics, 2) a lack of programs that inspire young people to learn about the world through bicycles. They’re even working on a school curriculum that teaches math and physics through bicycles.

Meeting and talking with all these visionaries salved my concern with our bike industry. Each of these leaders I spoke with happily operate outside of the bike industry, yet their work directly impacts bike sales because they are bringing new people to bicycling. Perhaps hoping our industry will change is a waste of time. Instead, the new growth of programs like these will continue to send up shoots that will eventually spread over the bike industry’s quagmire and render it obsolete. After all those great discussions at the show, I think that’s a distinct possibility.

Paris to Go Car-Free on September 27

You may have heard about car-free days in certain cities, perhaps even your own hometown. But the car-free plans in Paris go far beyond shutting down one street or small area away from downtown. Paris is shutting out cars from their entire city center plus a few more areas this coming Sunday!

Resources – Flip: We Need Your Recommendations for Connecting Members

Usually this section of our newsletter offers readers the latest resources for bicycle advocacy and organization development. But this time we have flipped it around – we’re asking all of you to offer your recommendations for two-way email list services. Such services allow members of an organization to send questions or ideas to the entire membership and receive responses that all the others also see. This allows discussion topics to involve many people and experiences.

The old “listserv” idea has faded as services have vanished or cracked down on spammers. Yahoo and Google Groups took up the slack, but even they have stopped allowing administrators to add emails. Since people rarely respond to invitations to join such lists, even if they asked to be added, these lists no longer function as ways to connect members.

Organizations we work with are struggling to find alternatives to Yahoo and Google Groups that include these basics:

• Two-way email discussion (not one-way newsletter services like MailChimp and Constant Contact),
• Easy email delivery and email response to entire group without having to login to a website,
• A daily digest option,
• Free or affordable,
• Easy to setup without major website programming,
• List administrator can add emails directly without first sending an invitation.

Do you know of such a service? If so, please email Sue Knaup at sue{at} with the details. Thank you!

If we come up with a good one, we’ll offer it in a future Resources section.

Hot Topics – Banning Cars to Clear the Sky

In this newsletter you already read about Paris banning cars for a day, but they’re doing so as part of their program to increase trips made by public and non-motorized transportation. In another city they banned cars for a very different reason. In late August, Beijing began banning cars in order to clear the sky over their city in time for clear photos to be taken during their WWII anniversary celebration.

It worked! Skies were blue over Beijing on September 3rd. But by the next day, air pollution was back to the city’s usual brown, unhealthy level.

We can hope residents and policy makers enjoyed and took note of their quiet streets and that many who dusted off their bicycles for the occasion have continued to ride. But clearing the sky for pretty pictures on one day is probably not the best reason for banning cars. If Beijing is any indication, such a goal is not likely to have any measurable or lasting benefits, at least until they next big anniversary.