Opinion: The single biggest issue facing the bike industry | Bicycle Retailer

A blog by Jay Townley
As we finish the first quarter of 2014 the U.S. bicycle business is preparing for its April gathering of industry leaders at the Bicycle Leadership Conference and the IBD Summit. We have noticed that the U.S. bicycle business continues to separate the meetings of the specialty bicycle retail, or bike shop channel of trade, suppliers from the retailers, and the separate agendas for these two important annual gatherings still do not mention or pay attention to the most important single issue facing the U.S. bicycle business today!
The following chart is a graphic presentation of the 18-year history of U.S. bicycle riding participation from 1995 through 2012. The data is from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA). The overall trend is a slow decline, from a peak of 56 million in 1995 to flat overall bicycle riding participation at 39 million for the last three years. 2013 bicycle riding participation will be available in early April, but we don't anticipate any significant change from the history you see here.
From the low of 35.6 million in 2006 there has been a steady increase to 39.8 million in 2010, the year after the Great Recession. However, the stabilization of U.S. bicycle riding participation in 2010 through 2012 is not enough to change the trend line shown in the chart.
This is, in our opinion, the most important single issue facing the U.S. bicycle business. What needs to be done to reverse this trend line?
Put another way, what needs to be done to actually grow bicycle riding participation in the U.S. in the years ahead? There have been various answers put forth over the last decade, but obviously none of them have been sufficient to grow bicycle riding, or the U.S. bicycle market.