— LAB Reform —
What the LAB Magazine Won’t Print [1]

The faction that controls LAB maintains tight control over what most members hear about their League.  They give glowing accounts of their “accomplishments” in the League web site, BikeLeague News and in the magazine.  Dissenting views are not welcome.  The LAB magazine is run much like Pravda, the newspaper of the old Soviet Union.

Demetri Kolokotronis posted the message below on the Topica LABMembers forum. (This forum is not controlled by the LAB faction.)   Bob Bayn posted a reply (at bottom).

The following was sent Aug 13, 2004 to Patrick J McCormick, Editor, for publication in League of American Bicyclists magazine.  Since, apparently, the administration does not want anything leading to discussion published, I am posting it here.

In “Complete the Streets, the next step in bicycle advocacy” in the Summer 2004 issue of the unnamed LAB magazine, Martha Roskowski is quoted as saying, “the old name, ‘routine transportation’ has been holding us back”.  Who is “us”?  Holding us “back” from what?

I read “Complete the Streets” as merely a self serving and deceiving call for more bike lanes.  Self-serving in that Martha Roskowski is promoting the thrust of her lobbying organization, America Bikes [2], an industry sponsored bicycle booster group; deceiving in that bike lanes are implied to increase bicyclist safety, when, in fact, they do not.

The article was written by Barbara McCann, a consultant for America Bikes.  Did she receive remuneration from America Bikes for publishing this public relations piece in LAB’s magazine?

The agenda of America Bikes calls for “A seamless network of on-street bicycling and walking facilities, trails and transit should connect homes, jobs, schools, shops, families and friends.”  In other words, a fantasy of interconnecting bike lanes everywhere, when bike lanes have been shown to not increase cyclist safety.  Fantasy in that it’ll never happen, even if wanted (bike lanes on my two block dead end road?).

Lest the negligibility of bike lanes’ contribution to safety be passed off as controversial, a photo in the article shows bike lanes in Madison, Wisconsin.  A definitive study in that city, tabulating accidents before and after establishment of the bike lanes, shows bike lanes did not reduce accidents, and in fact initially increased accidents.

While it is acknowledged that there is a small, vociferous group that wants bike lanes, this focus on “on-street bicycling…facilities” has not the consensus of membership of LAB.  I would say these facilities are not preferred, allowing for exceptions where they might be shown to be advantageous.

The League of American Bicyclists was first named the League of American Wheelmen because the initials were LAW, and the prime focus of the League was, and should continue to be, protection of bicyclists’ rights to the road.  In my state of New York bicyclists must use bike lanes where provided.  LAB should carefully scrutinize any proposed bike lanes before they support them.  As with the Madison, Wisconsin bike lanes touted by America Bikes, safety of bike lanes is more imagined than real.

Demetri Kolokotronis
Life Member

I am reminded of the complete lack of opposing viewpoints in the LAB magazine every time I look at the “members forum” in National Geographic Magazine (and others).  Most editors seem to have the fortitude to publish rather than suppress critical comments.  But I know from comments elsewhere that Demetri’s critical comments are not the first that have been rejected from the LAB magazine.  If Demetri pays his dues, it seems he should have the same rights as any other LAB members to have his views appear in the magazine.
Bob Bayn
Utah State Univ
http://cc.usu.edu/~bob/       o
I just can’t picture having     __^=*
fun by burning gasoline.       (O)””””o


[1] As of 2006, the magazine (now called American Bicyclist) has resumed printing letters to the editor.  We commend LAB for this return of member feedback.  Perhaps if Dimitri had sent his letter now, it may have appeared in print. [2] Since the letter above was written, Martha Roskowski has left America Bikes.

Please join us and help restore the League to members.

See www.labreform.org to join LAB Reform.
Last Revised 3/13/06