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The History of the
League of American Bicyclists

By Barbara Sturges, League Member

The League began as the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) in 1880, and was responsible for defending the rights of cyclists from its start. The League of American Wheelmen is credited with getting paved roads in this country before the reign of the automobile.

By 1898, the League of American Wheelmen had more than 102,000 members including the Wright Brothers, Diamond Jim Brady, and John D Rockefeller! The League has had its ups and downs --- it actually ceased to exist on two occasions, but was resurrected each time. Since its most recent revival in 1965, the League (renamed the League of American Bicyclists in 1994) has focused its programs on education in addition to advocacy.

The League's Bicycle Friendly Community program recognizes communities nationwide that support the five E's of bicycling -- education, enforcement, engineering, evaluation and encouragement.

The League's BikeEd program offers the only nationwide instructor certification program. More than 200 new League Cycling Instructors (LCI) were certified in 2005. The League's BikeEd program teaches riders to feel comfortable riding on the road, in addition to bike fit and maintenance.

The League proclaims National Bike Month each May -- this is the 50th year -- and offers posters and "how to" kits on planning events for Bike to Work week and/or day.

The League's magazine, American Bicyclist, and website offer information on clubs, rides, classes, as well as fact sheets on topics like group riding, why to ride on the right, how drivers should share the road with bicycles, and many other timely subjects.

The League's 1997 move to Washington, D.C., facilitated working with the government. In 2006, the sixth annual Bike Summit will be held with more than 300 participants. Bicycle advocates, industry executives, and educators use the Summit as a chance to meet with elected officials about supporting legislation to help bicycling, and to network with each other. Attendees from Texas have convinced Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison to co-chair the new Senate Bike Caucus!

Other legislation on which the League has worked recently include a "Conserve by Bike" amendment to the energy bill and the Bike Commuter Act that would extend the transportation fringe benefit in the tax code to bicycle commuters.

The League has advised the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on rumble strip design and is working to reduce fees charged to bring bikes on domestic flights.

The League offers members a quarterly magazine and discounts on travel arrangements and at bike shops, and a subscription to Bicycling magazine! Member clubs receive promotion of their events and the opportunity for insurance coverage.

The League is working to make this country better for bicycling. Lance Armstrong has said, "I am proud to be a member of the League of American Bicyclists.... the more that people are biking, the more influence cyclists will have on improving conditions, and the more likely there will be other American Tour de France champions."

To join the League or for any questions, call 202-822-1333 or write bikeleague@bikeleague.org.


Share the Road
The League promotes cycling for fun, fitness and transportation.