John Burke, CEO of Trek in the US, has urged industry leaders to do more for cycle advocacy. He was speaking at the Velo-city cycle advocacy conference in Taipei, Taiwan. Burke has been pushing this message since 2007 when he gave a famous talk at the Taipei International Cycle Show.
Working from a slide with a four-point list Burke asked how many of his fellow industry leaders were "actively involved in creating a more bicycle friendly world."
To this many would say they are producing the consumer goods to answer this question. However, Burke wants the industry to become more actively involved than merely manufacturing bicycles.
"Would local and national advocacy groups say that your company supports their efforts?" challenged Burke.
And are individual companies "actively educating government organisations on the benefits of cycling?"
Burke said that cycle companies also ought to ask themselves whether they are doing enough to make their cities, regions and countries more bicycle friendly.
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Trek ticks all four boxes said Burke, but most American bike companies average just 1.32 ticks.
"There are very few bicycle companies that really support the bicycle movement," he said.
If the USA reached Dutch levels of bicycle use the bike industry would be five times its size, claimed Burke.
Burke’s 2007 speech at the Taipei trade show called for bike companies to spend more on cycling advocacy.
He said bike companies would sell more of them if there were more places for folks to ride them.
"The number one way to grow the business – and to have an impact on society, health, environment and congestion – is to create a bicycle-friendly world," said Burke at the time.
He revealed that for every $100 of sales, bike companies typically spend $3.90 on marketing, $1.60 on R&D but just 10 cents on advocacy.
"That doesn’t make sense. As an industry we need to look at how we spend money. Why do we spend the amount of money on marketing and product, and little on advocacy?"