Mission and History
The League was founded as the League of American Wheelmen in 1880. Bicyclists, known then as “wheelmen,” were challenged by rutted roads of gravel and dirt and faced antagonism from horsemen, wagon drivers, and pedestrians.
In an effort to improve riding conditions so they might better enjoy their newly discovered sport, more than 100,000 cyclists from across the United States joined the League to advocate for paved roads. The success of the League in its first advocacy efforts ultimately led to our national highway system.
Read more about our detailed history below.
Our vision is a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.
is a nation where everyone recognizes and enjoys the many benefits and opportunities of bicycling.
is to lead the movement to create a Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. As leaders, our commitment is to listen and learn, define standards and share best practices to engage diverse communities and build a powerful, unified voice for change.
If you care about bicycling, become a League member today.
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Join us in making biking better across the country.
By Barbara Sturges, League Member
The League began as the League of American Wheelmen (LAW) in 1880 -- Newport, R.I. was the location of our founding meeting -- 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 and offers information 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 2010, the tenth annual National Bike Summit® will be held with more than 700 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.