Thursday, December 10, 2009

whose agenda?

the other day i posted something to jonathan maus' blog to the effect that bikes belong and the sram cycling fund are "focused on recreational cycling."

the context was that these two groups are funding something called cities for cycling, which is a project of the national association of city transportation officials, which in turn is a project of the rudin center for transportation policy and management at nyu. got all that?

jonathan called me out on the assertion, "focused on recreational cycling," saying that bikes belong is "the major supporter of the national safe routes to school effort." so i did a little research, admittedly after the fact.

and let me first say that i think safe routes to schools is at least potentially a good program. how to normalize transportational cycling twenty years out is to indoctrinate kids today. no disagreement there.


the national center for safe routes to school is a program of the federal highway administration. so presumably this in itself is not the effort bikes belong is funding.

something called the safe routes to school national partnership is a coalition of nonprofits, government agencies, etc. which is "hosted" by bikes belong. unclear how much money is involved, as the "partnership" does not file a separate form 990. individual contributions are to be made to the bikes belong foundation, which showed zero income on its short form 990 for 2006.

other funding sources for the "partnership" include the robert wood johnson foundation, the sram cycling fund, and kaiser permanente. apparently robert wood johnson gave about 1.5 mil. this year, and sram gave a couple hundred thousand. again, unclear what bikes belong's monetary contribution was, but let's imagine it was huge, albeit not transparent.

the bikes belong coalition is an organization of suppliers and retailers that makes grants primarily to offroad trail and other sidepath projects. they say so right in their grants brochure

their grant history for 2005 and 2006 is shown in the form 990 returns filed for those years

no mention of safe routes. some of these grants are for "advocacy," but this includes stuff like the chicago bike fed's sunday parkways.

far and away the largest amount, a couple hundred thousand, half of their total grant money, went to the league of american bicyclists, which in recent years has turned its back on vehicular cyclists. nearly fifteen pct. of lab's total budget, incidentally.

so, yeah, i will stand by the statement that bikes belong is focused on recreational cycling.

sram is just getting started, but they have given 200k to the safe routes partnership, another 200k to bikes belong (circular reasoning), and 400k to be somehow split between lab and the thunderhead alliance, or used by them in some joint effort. they say, to build local advocacy groups. thunderhead has a good history, but as i say, LAB seems to have fallen in with the facilities people.

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