The bike industry goes to Washington

May 18, 2017


PeopleForBikes staff and members of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association in Washington, D.C.

PeopleForBikes and representatives from the bike industry spent May 16-17 2017, in Washington, D.C. for two executive fly-ins and the first-ever PeopleForBikes Congressional Bike Fest.

“The fly-ins and our first-ever Bike Fest are part of PeopleForBikes’ ongoing effort to elevate the bike industry’s voice on Capitol Hill,” says Vice President of PeopleForBikes’ Business Network, Jenn Dice. “These events help educate policymakers on the economic importance of the bike industry and influence key decisions. Over-taxing our products or eliminating bike program funding hurts our industry, reduces transportation and recreation options and eliminates jobs.”

According to the most recent Outdoor Recreation Economy Report from the Outdoor Industry Association (released in April of this year), bicycling is an $88 billion a year industry that contributes $12 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes and supports 770,000 jobs.

For the third annual Bicycle Product Suppliers Association fly-in, representatives from the bike industry met with congressional staffers about the Border Adjustment Tax (BAT). Attendees included Larry Pizzi from Accell, Adam Micklin from Felt Racing, Andrew Kempe from Shimano, Randy Neufeld from SRAM, Bernie Doering from Stages Cycling and Fred Ferguson from Vista Outdoor. House Republicans have proposed the BAT as part of their broader tax reform package. Under this proposal, imported bicycles and bicycle parts could be subject to significant tariff increases, translating into a major price increase for consumers.

“The Border Adjustment Tax is an important and timely issue for the whole bike industry,” says Adam Micklin, Bicycle Product Suppliers Association president and Felt vice president of sales and marketing. “We are concerned about this proposal and paying close attention to anything that would increase the cost of bikes to our customers.”

A second group of industry representatives also held meetings on the Hill. Attendees included Eric Lynn from BlackRiver, Justin McCarthy from Cycling Sports Group, Michael Delano from Giant, Gary Mendenhall from J&B Importers, Gary Sjoquist from QBP, Brant Havro from Shimano, Stephen Keller from Shimano and Andrew Pizzano from Shinola. These meetings focused on the TIGER Grants program and protecting overall congressional bike infrastructure funding. Among the many high-profile bike-related projects that have benefited from TIGER funding are Atlanta’s Beltline Trail, the Razorback Greenway in Arkansas, the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Chicago’s bike-share system, and dedicated bike lanes in Boston, D.C. and elsewhere.

TIGER is administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation and it inspires communities to create multimodal solutions to transportation challenges. Millions of Americans use TIGER-funded facilities, between roads, transit, bus and bike. There is concern that President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposal could significantly impact funding for TIGER.

“Having more and better places to ride bikes is important to the industry and affects our bottom line,” says Gary Sjoquist, government affairs director at Quality Bicycle Products. “The people riding on bike lanes, in bike parks and on mountain bike trails are our current and future customers, so losing this funding source would hurt businesses and communities nationwide.”

The packed house at the first-ever Congressional Bike Fest (Image: Bruce Buckley)

In addition to these two executive fly-ins, PeopleForBikes hosted the first-ever Congressional Bike Fest in the Rayburn Building of the U.S. House of Representatives. Twenty-two brands showcased their latest products. Roughly 400 Capitol Hill staffers attended the event, which featured items from Accell, ASI, Bell, BlackRiver, Bosch, CamelBak, Capital Bikeshare, CSG, Huffy, Giant, Giro, J&B, Pure Cycle, QBP, REI, Saris, Shimano, Shinola, Specialized, SRAM, Trek and WTB.

“We are an industry of innovation, job creation and mobility,” says Rebecca Smith, general manager of REI Co-Op Washington, D.C. Flagship. “The Bike Fest was an opportunity to remind elected officials how innovative our industry is and how influential and important the $887 billion outdoor industry is to local economies. Our showcase brought out hill staffers and members of Congress who appreciate the power of bikes and understand their value to communities across the nation.”

PeopleForBikes will continue to monitor the BAT and President Trump’s budget cuts to bike projects and will aggressively work with allies on Capitol Hill on policies that are beneficial to bicycling and the bike industry.

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