The Leslie Bohm Story
Leslie Bohm was a lot of things to a lot of people: an avid cyclist, a driven entrepreneur, and a devoted family man. On August 20, 2012, the bicycling world lost Leslie—a great friend and gifted advocate—to brain cancer. But his legacy continues to be felt every single day.
Leslie changed the way the bike industry saw bike advocacy. He challenged the industry to be more political, to be more data-driven and to use campaign strategies to create political influence. “We should be the NRA of cycling,” Leslie would say—and, no, he didn’t mean that spandex-clad cyclists should start packing heat. Instead, he understood effecting great change requires a large, passionate, and well-organized front that can be easily and effectively put into action when necessary.
Well, that time is now. In honor of Leslie, we have named our campaign team in Boulder the Leslie Bohm Strategy Center.
At 20 years old, most of us are still discovering who we are, but Leslie was busy starting his first company, Eclipse, making bicycle packs and motorcycle tank bags that would go on to earn him ten patents. While traveling around the country talking to bike retailers, he realized shop owners were excited about their products, but needed help marketing them.
This led to his next business venture, Catalyst Communication, which he started in 1986 to better connect shops and suppliers. Catalyst continues to be a successful business today and has since expanded from bicycling to include the outdoor, snow sports and running industries.
In 1999, Leslie, along with a handful of others, founded Bikes Belong, an organization that united the bike industry under a shared goal of putting more people on bikes more often. Charging business leaders to lead the campaign for cycling, Leslie shifted the onus of bike advocacy from individual bicyclists to industry leaders whom he called “the cavalry in this battle.”
Leslie’s story and inspiration is woven into every aspect of our work at PeopleForBikes. As PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal puts it, Leslie believed that bicycling can change the world—a belief he spread to nearly everyone who ever had the pleasure to know him.
“In the years since the founding of Bikes Belong, federal funding for bikes has gone from $200 million to more than $800 million,” John Burke, the president of Trek Bicycles, wrote. “The accomplishments of the movement are too many to list. The bicycle movement owes Leslie a big thank you.”
The Leslie Bohm Strategy Center has big shoes to fill to live up to Leslie’s legacy and inspiration. While we miss him dearly, we continue to hear his optimistic voice in the quiet hum of tires rolling over asphalt, in the laughter of families heading down bike paths, and in the work we do every day.
Thank you, Leslie.