Is It Time for Interbike to Dump Las Vegas?

We’re not the first to point out the irony of holding Interbike, the big national conference of cycling merchandizers, in Las Vegas, a city that appears on no one’s list of bike-friendly places. Especially as Interbike organizers pledge to invest more in bike advocacy, it seems incongruent to hold the conference in proximity to the inhospitable Vegas Strip.

This is the city where the bike industry holds its most important meeting. Photo: Norco.com

Darren Buck at Network blog Bike Pedantic points out that this year John Burke, head of Trek Bikes, challenged conference attendees to help raise the bicycle mode share to 5 percent by 2025. It’s a laudable goal, to be sure. But Buck asks why bike vendors would pick a setting that is so hostile to that sentiment:

Residents of Las Vegas (just the city, not the broader sprawling mass) use a bicycle as their primary means of commuting to/from work an estimated 0.3% (+/- .2%) of the time. And folks with an interest in advancing women cycling might be disappointed to note that women commute by bicycle an estimated 0.0% (+/- .2%) of the time.

Many within the bike industry have been grousing for years about the Vegas siting of Interbike. There are many practical and defensible reasons why it continues there (and will apparently continue through at least 2015). But for many bike shop owners and employees, Interbike is their only trip out of town for the year. If Mr. Burke and Bikes Belong want the industry (and the local bike shop part of that industry in particular) to take on a far more active advocacy role, they can start by urging Interbike to morph into an opportunity to give the people in the industry to [see] what cities must look like to get bike modeshare to 5% of all trips (Portland OR, Palo Alto CA, Vancouver BC, etc.), and stop shipping them out to talk about radical change in an environment that is emblematic of the exact opposite.

Maybe if Las Vegas’s lack of facilities for car-free mobility began to affect its core industry — tourism — the city would take a more proactive stance on bike-friendliness.

Elsewhere on the Network today: M-bike.org reports that the Michigan Department of Transportation — impressing us again — is adding a buffered bike lane on a highway. American Dirt looks at the conflicts that can result when two municipalities share control over a street that serves as their border. And Systemic Failure reports that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is, again, raising eyebrows with his transportation shenanigans, this time by fast-tracking repairs on a road that serves his personal business.