LAB Reform

Coalition to Reform LAB
Return Control to Members
and Restore Traditional Cycling Values

Why LAB Reform?

Since 1880, the League of American Bicyclists defended the rights and interests of lawful, competent cyclists.  Until the mid-90's, LAB offered many useful member services, usually through low-cost programs run by volunteers.  During the last few years, as a faction seized control of the Board, LAB abandoned its role of protecting members' interests and it dropped most of the services to become just another Washington lobbying and fundraising group.  There have also been some highly inappropriate actions taken by some of the directors.  Details -- History of LAB

LAB Reform Goals:

  1. Regain control of the League for members by restoring their right to elect ALL directors
  2. Restore access to the ballot and Bylaws via the petition and referendum
  3. Remove the veil of secrecy over the actions of the board and staff
  4. Allow members a reasonable process to remove unethical directors
  5. Promote the best and safest practices of cycling
  6. Protect the rights of cyclists
  7. Revive member services

Please see the LAB Reform Vision



Some Progress -- But Much More Needed

We have some progress to report in our quest to reform the League.  At the March 2006 board meeting, the "Statement of Purpose" in the Bylaws that had been reduced to a meaningless platitude in 2003 was restored to nearly its former meaning.  However, the other Sneak Bylaws changes have not been rescinded.

In the 2005 and 2006 elections, all candidates who asked to be on the ballot were accepted (as far as we know).  In addition, the elections seem to have been fair.  However, this policy could be overturned at any time by the board.  We need protections written into the Bylaws to make them permanent and we need to prohibit the board from undoing the protections.

In the 2006 meeting, the treasurer reported that the League's financial situation looks much better than its precarious condition of last year.  The atmosphere in the meeting room was much more friendly to visiting members than in recent years.  Bill Hoffman's notes from the meeting are available here.  Due to a snowstorm, we did not have a representative at the Mar. 2007 meeting and we have no information about what goes on in tele-conferences.

The board has finally embraced cyclists' rights as an issue for the League.  Unfortunately, the uncritical endorsement of separate bike lanes and bicycle sidepaths in the League's Bicycle Friendly Communitiwes Program undermines the goal of Cyclists' Rights.

The board pledged to support the effort to reform bicycle traffic laws. You can see a presentation Fred Oswald showed to the board that was well-received.

LAB Reform heartily commends LAB for its role in the creation and submission of an amicus brief in the Kentucky Court of Appeals.  This is exactly the type of work LAB should be doing in support of cyclists’ rights and they got it mostly right.  The new Share the Road campaign is also promising.


Serious Issues Remain About the Governance of the League

When outside interests seized control of the League a few years ago, the League largely abandoned its duty to protect our interests, thereby alienating its most dedicated members.  League membership declined about 14 percent between 1996 and 2002, a period when certain board members claimed their leadership "... nearly doubled the League's membership".  We suffered a further decline of ten percent in 2004-2005.  With the decline in membership came budget deficits.

A large part of the "membership problem" is the fact that fewer than 10 percent of cycling club members belong to the League.  These are the people who should form the membership core.  We believe these club members would be the most loyal members of the League if the League would be loyal to them.

Below are some of the "highlights" of the LAB leadership crisis that led to the formation of LAB Reform.  These events point out the need to change the leadership of LAB in order to end this crisis and prevent it occurring again.  For details on many of these events, see A Brief History of LAB by Bill Hoffman.

1997 - Board moved headquarters from Baltimore to Washington
1998 - Bylaws changed to allow appointing 4 of 12 directors
1999 - Mike Greehan and Martha Roskowski appointed (not elected) to Board
2001 - Beginning of Education Program crisis
2002 - Which Way LAB distributed at Rally
2003 - The LAB Election Scandal
2003 - Addition of a fifth appointed director
2003 - Sneak LAB Bylaws Changes
2003 - LAB operating deficit $47,000, membership down 14% in 6 years
2004 - "Truce" between Board and LAB Reform
2004 - LAB operating deficit $264,197, membership down another 10%
2005 - Greehan becomes LAB president
2005 - Greehan threatens legal action against LAB Reform to stifle dissent.
2007 - Mike Greehan and Martha Roskowski finally term limited off board.

There are also serious problems with League advocacy that is often harmful to members and that fails to promote the best and safest cycling practices.  The Bicycle Friendly Communities Program is especially troubling.

We have interesting articles by John Forester and John Schubert.  Forester lays out Policies for Restoration of the League of American Bicyclists.  Schubert issues a challenge to the "good" members of the board to reform the League.  Will they finally begin to listen and admit some serious mistakes?


LAB Recently had Deep Financial Troubles

After a $47,000 operating deficit in 2003, the League generated even more red ink in 2004 -- $264,197.  Instead of significantly cutting expenses, the board desperately searched for outside donations to close another deficit in 2005.  Outside funding did "keep the wolf at bay."  In addition, several key (and presumably highly paid) staffers left in 2005.  Some of them have not been replaced.

When donations do materialize they often have strings attached -- strings that clash with the League's traditional mission and that are detrimental to the interests of League members.

League membership declined about ten percent in 2004 and 2005.

Charity Navigator, rates the League only ONE STAR (poor) for its organizational and financial efficiency.  Part of the financial problem has been caused by simple carelessness.  Among several examples of extravagance, the League rents an office suite in Washington, D. C., one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country.  We also pay our executive director a very generous salary.  In 2003, the salary was $115,500 in addition to a generous bonus.  In the most recent report, the executive director compensation was $112,577.

We need your help to keep the reform process moving

We frequently update the LAB Reform web site with new information and new articles to keep our supporters informed.  These will also include links for informative articles about cycling -- things that should be in the LAB magazine.  We often make small (or not-so-small) updates to various pages, sometimes without changing the main page, thus some material may be newer than the date at bottom of this page.  If you provide your email address we can send an occasional message to tell you when significant new information is posted or when news breaks.

We should send out more eMail than we do, but we are volunteers with many other responsibilities and we never want to bother people unless we have something really important to say.  You are invited to add yourself to our eMail membership (you can easily quit at any time) without worrying about receiving junk from us.  Below is the entire history of our previous mailings to our list.  You can see how seldom we send mail.

9/28/03, 10/05/03, 9/16/04, 2/20/04, 9/29/05, 12/17/05, 6/22/06

Please send the following information by email to fredoswald_AT_yahoo_DOT_com.
Name, address, phone, email, your local cycling club(s),
Your level of interest, any special skills or other info., etc.

Keep current on LAB Reform by visiting www.labreform.org.

You do not become a "dissident" just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career.  You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them.  It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society.
-- Vaclav Havel, former dissident, now President of the Czech Republic


Please join us and help restore the BikeLeague to members.

Webmasters:  Please link to LAB Reform.

© Copyright 2004-2007 LAB Reform.  Material may be copied with attribution.
Some material was reproduced either under fair use guidelines or with permission of the original author.
For comments, questions, contact fredoswald_AT_yahoo_DOT_com.
Revised 9/ 1/07