Most ECG fans are probably unaware of the efforts that we have been making to strengthen our ties to the bicycle industry. We see improved relationships as benefiting both sides – ECGA can give the industry a way to reach out to consumers, while the industry can give the ECGA the support we need to continue our work. Our work, of course, leads to greater opportunities for cycling along the east coast, thereby expanding the market for the bike industry.
The biggest bicycle industry trade show in North America is called Interbike. Held annually in Las Vegas, hundreds of manufacturers set up booths in a convention center, and thousands of people (principally retailers, but also journalists, promoters, and nonprofit representatives) from around the country descend on the show for 3 days to schmooze and learn about next year’s offerings. Interbike also organizes an Outdoor Demo in Boulder City, NV in the days before the event, so that the retailers can actually ride the bikes. And in 2008, for the first time, Interbike put on Outdoor Demo East, in Providence RI, a great event for east coast retailers, many of which cannot afford to send staff to Las Vegas for several days.
In a nice step forward, the East Coast Greenway Alliance has forged a relationship with Interbike. We helped facilitate and promote the Providence event, which is a way to get our name out as well as to make nice with the industry. As a thank you, Interbike comped an ECGA representative for a trip to Las Vegas, giving us an opportunity to get our name in front of key marketing personnel of potential corporate partners.
We have just begun to follow up on those initial contacts, so it is too early to tell what the payoff will be. At this point, however, one thing is for sure. Today many more people in the bicycle industry know what the East Coast Greenway is than did a few months ago. And that can only help.
– Eric Weis