Kimberly Kinchen, business network writer
Rep. Larsen and the staff of Gregg’s Cycles in Lynnwood, WA. (Image: Marty Pluth)
Bikes make people smile—even members of Congress. One example is U.S. Representative Rick Larsen who visited Gregg’s Cycle in Lynnwood, WA in August of 2017. Gregg’s Cycles is one of the top bike retailers in the Seattle area, and their Lynwood store is part of the state’s Second Congressional District. “We spent some time talking about electric bikes because it’s a growing part of our business in the U.S.,” said General Manager Marty Pluth. “He got on one of the bikes…he was just going to go around the block and he actually went up the street and down the other street. I think his staff was a little concerned they weren’t going to make their next appointment on time because he was enjoying his bike ride so much. When he rode back in he had a huge smile on his face.”
The meeting was serious fun, one of almost 20 such meetings last August and September between bike businesses and federal legislators or their staff, organized as part of PeopleForBikes’ 2017 Summer Congressional Campaign. “These meetings are critical to help move the bike industry’s federal policy priorities forward and highlight the importance of the bike industry to the U.S. economy,” said PeopleForBikes Vice President of Business Network Jenn Dice.
Gregg’s welcomed the face time with Congressman Larsen. “Anytime you have an opportunity to get some one-on-one time with a key policy maker, whether it is a congressman or senator or mayor or council person, it’s worthwhile,” Pluth said. “They are the ones that make decisions about access issues and infrastructure issues that are key to our business. We have to be involved and vocal in our needs—and not just as a business, but as a cycling community.”
Rep. Larsen test rides an e-bike at Gregg’s Cycles. (Image: Marty Pluth)
“We got on the conversation pretty quickly about how infrastructure has an impact on people’s ability to ride bikes,” Pluth said. “If there are ways to improve infrastructure within our community, we feel like it will increase access, which will help from a business standpoint.”
These meetings provide a forum for bike business leaders and lawmakers to discuss policy goals, and for elected leaders to tour bike businesses, talk with constituents, and become more familiar with the strength and reach of the bike industry. To make these meetings easy for everyone, PeopleForBikes handles the logistics of inviting and connecting lawmakers with bike businesses. PeopleForBikes also provides a customized briefing document that includes background on the visiting lawmaker and industry facts to ensure the business and staff are well-informed about the broader industry, funding sources, and any relevant legislation on the table.
Pluth says the meeting was more in-depth than he anticipated. “I’ve met congressmen, I’ve met presidential candidates at times, but never had as much one-on-one time as we did with Congressman Larsen. It was a great opportunity to voice our thoughts on cycling and the cycling industry.”
To include your bike business in the 2018 PeopleForBikes Congressional Campaign meetings, contact Lander Karath at [email protected].