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Costumes not commutes, and other tips to cultivate the ‘all powerful bike lobby’

Posted by on March 3rd, 2014 at 1:58 pm

2014 National Bike Summit-11
“You don’t create more riders with
suits and ties and spandex,” reads a slide
from Lily Karabaic’s presentation.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

—BikePortland’s coverage from Washington D.C. is made possible by Planet Bike.

The National Women’s Cycling Forum is like a day-long master class in how to infect women and communities with the bicycling bug. For the hundreds of professional advocates and rising-star activists in attendance, there is a ton of great advice and inspiration being offered up. In one session this morning, Cultivating the All Powerful Bike Lobby, we were introduced to several women on the front lines of community-based bike advocacy.

The session was moderated by Leah Shahum, the 13 year veteran leader of the 12,000 member San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. She knows a lot about the bike lobby and the power that can come with putting it to use. Early in her career, Leah shared, she was “nervous” about the idea of power. It seemed like some sinister force and the idea of using it to her advantage was “difficult to grasp.” But years into her advocacy career, she’s figured it out. “I realized in the end that power is all about people… It’s about people’s stories and connecting people who make decisions with people in communities who have a different kind of power.”

But how can advocates for bicycling make that connection stronger?

2014 National Bike Summit-10
Nona Varnado, NYC fashion designer-turned bike activist now based in Los Angeles.

Nona Varnado faced that challenge head on when she launched a bike fashion line in 2008. “I realized the market didn’t exist yet,” she told the crowd, “so I had to develop the market myself.” So Varnado went to work. She started The Ladies Program, a series of events “for people who don’t identify as bicyclsits” during bike month in New York City. By creating alliances and focusing on collaboration — not competition — with other groups, Varnado found her niche. She has since move to Los Angeles where she opened a storefront that serves as a community meeting space, gallery, and product pop-up shop. Now Varnado leads a new non-profit dubbed The Bicycle Culture Institute (FB) and she works with L.A. Bike Trains.

Along the way, Varnado learned a lot and had several several tips to share. Here are a few I wrote down:

  • Even if three people show up to your event, photograph the hell about if it.
  • Adopt a philosophy of abundance — give your time and experience to others who are passionate about the same topics.
  • Reject the idea that there’s only enough money, jobs, audience to go around. (This is the biggest problem advocates have.) A rising tide and a unified community floats all boats and grows beyond any niche.
  • Importance of participation. Unless people show up it doesn’t count. And the best way to get folks to show up is to show up to other people’s events. Support efforts beyond your circle and contribute to them financially.

Varnado is right. Getting people to show up to events is the building block of a healthy bike culture. And the best way to get people out into the streets — so says Portlander Lilian Karabaic — is to “put the fun before the wonk.”

2014 National Bike Summit-12
Karabaic’s irreverent and punchy presentation was a huge hit.

Karabaic (who also happens to be the producer of the BikePortland Podcast) wasted no time in getting the crowd’s attention. “We’re doing things wrong,” she said at the outset of her presentation, “If we were doing things right we wouldn’t have a women’s bicycling forum, we would have a National Bike Summit with equal representation of women and men.” Karabaic earned a hearty applause for that line, and it was the first of many during her very well-received talk.

Advocates spend too much time talking about wonky topics like infrastructure details and they spend too much time “guilt-shaming” people by touting bicycling’s many (and quite mundane) benefits. And Karabaic’s pet peeve is how much of the advocacy discussion revolves around commute trips (trips to work). Instead, she urged, advocates should spend more time on “bike fun.” “We should be talking about costumes not concrete,” she said. (It’s worth mentioning that Karabaic’s past jobs include organizing the World Naked Bike Ride and leading the Bowie vs. Prince ride during Pedalpalooza).

“Kids ride because it’s fun. In my case I rode to hang out with the cool kids… But how do we keep them riding? We won’t keep them riding bike talking about concrete and curb-cuts,” Karabaic said, “What keeps them riding is fun.” All the talk from the “helmet mirrors and padded buts crowd,” about gear, helmets, lane positioning, tire width and hand signals, she added, is doing nothing to get more people on bikes.

And Karabaic raised an important point about the focus on commute trips. Not only is commuting to work inherently not a fun activity for most people, but, Karabaic said, “It’s based on a privileged perspective.” “It’s a luxury that you live close enough to bike to work.”

Why is all this important to the work of getting more women on bikes? Because women are more likely to be interested in social activities and they tend to take on more childcare responsibilities in the home. “If we focus on the journey to work we’ll never have an equal number of women riding bikes as men.”

The ideas shared by Karabaic, Varnado and all the other thought-provoking women here at the Forum have forced attendees to think. Similar to last year, the ideas and energy at this event have a newness and urgency that the more formal National Bike Summit seems to be lacking these days. To the League’s credit, the Women’s Forum is capturing a movement that is growing right before our eyes. And the women involved in it are giving other advocates a lot of ideas to steal and take back to their respective communities.

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Comments
  • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Hmmm: “It’s a luxury that you live close enough to bike to work.”

    Nope, it’s a matter of deliberate planning. Now, forking over (and over and over) for the family’s second motor vehicle? That would be a luxury.

    And “all the talk” about technique and equipment? Right, that won’t draw new riders and I submit that it’s not intended to. Rather, it’s to help keep existing riders well and whole.

    This is why, even since the early 90s as a bike-program student administrator at UC Davis, I have not been able to give my heart over to such activism: It seems less than moral to recruit eager new folks into situations that may well endanger them. If I recruit them, I care about them. And if I care about them, I want to equip them to be savvy and capable — like those of us, both boys *and* girls, who grew up riding and racing.

    The MPHs in charge of the old-days Davis program called that “mastery” and declared it out of scope. But I’m not sure the scope, both then and now, is without a certain element of virgin-into-the-volcano sacrifice; reference Kathryn Rickson, et al.

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    • Peter W March 3, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      > Hmmm: “It’s a luxury that you live close enough to bike to work.”

      > Nope, it’s a matter of deliberate planning.

      Have you seen the rents in San Francisco?

      Yes, too often people plan for a 20 minute (driving) commute, rather than a 20 minute biking commute. But there are places where living close to work is prohibitively expensive.

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      • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 3:02 pm

        With sufficient savvy and capability, the definition of “close” grows ever more elastic. I have more than one peer who mixes modes for the commute to SF from Oakland.

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        • 9watts March 3, 2014 at 3:58 pm

          I did. Tiny downtown Berkeley apartment + the Transbay bus which takes bikes.

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        • Carrie March 3, 2014 at 4:05 pm

          How may of those peers are women? How many of them do more (by necessity) than commute to-and-from work as part of their daily routine?

          I LOVE riding my bike. (I am amazed to be living in a place where I can ride my bike easily 90% of where I want to go). I don’t necessarily love bike commuting (though it is 5,000 times better than car commuting). But I also ride bikes with my son to school (sort of on my way to work) each morning and he has FUN. Jumps curbs, rides through leaves, and we talk. We also look and signal our turns and stop at stop signs and wear helmet. But those are secondary to the fun of getting to where we need to go on our bikes.

          Remember when you were 12 before you could drive but you wanted to get somewhere on your own, on your own schedule? Your bike let you do that. And, I think, that’s sort of what being on a bike can mean to a woman in some ways. So many of the hours of the day are not our own, or our own schedule. But somehow, going a little slower (or maybe a little faster) on a bike, even in the cold rain, lets us have fun and be a little bit in control of our immediate surroundings for a tiny while. So infrastructure IS important and safety IS important, but for one segment of the community it’s not what gets us out of our cars on a daily basis.

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          • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 4:32 pm

            When I was 12?! Why, I and many others never stopped jumping curbs, rolling staircases, looking for every dirt or gravel cut-through or abrupt drop or rise on our routes. But it’s through savvy and solid technique that I hope to survive traffic and keep the fun going all through my doddering middle age. (We may be saying much the same thing, in different ways.)

            But: If you’re getting around to all the places you need to be, are you not commuting (even if it’s fun)?

            Oh, and as to how many of those savvy Bay Area peers are women: half.

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          • El Biciclero March 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

            I remember when I was 12 and my parents wouldn’t have been subject to child neglect charges for letting me roam around on my bike–helmetless at that!

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      • Pete March 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm

        Have you seen the buses that truck young tech employees out of San Francisco down to Menlo Park, Mountain, View, and Cupertino for their well-paid jobs at Facebook, Google, and Apple?

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      • Chris I March 5, 2014 at 9:14 am

        It’s a luxury to live in a society with cheap fuel and subsidized infrastructure that enables people to live 20, 40, or 60+ miles from their jobs. 100 years ago everyone had to live near their place of work. There was no other option. Suburban living is just as much of a “luxury” as small apartment city living. It’s just a matter of personal priorities.

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    • GlowBoy March 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Living close enough to bike to work is a matter of deliberate planning? Sure … if you have the job security of a tenured university professor.

      What do you do when you change jobs? Move every time, uprooting the kids from their schools? What if you don’t have the privilege of a long-term, full-time job and you do temp work around the metro area? What if you have multiple jobs? What if you do have a stable job but it requires you to regularly visit diverse parts of the metro area?

      People who work part-time, multiple jobs or serially at different locations are a HUGE part of the workforce. Even in an unusually compact metro area like Portland’s, many people lack the luxury of narrowing their job search to a narrowly focused portion of the metro area within a few miles of their home. Not to mention that many people lack the income to afford the close-in homes that offer easy bike access to more employers: inner Portland home prices are rising much faster than those in the metro area (or people’s incomes) as a whole, as more people prioritize bikeability. A good thing, but we can’t all do it.

      Bike and mass transit infrastructure need to be made accessible to the entire metro area. Yes you need to start in the areas with more density of bike-trip demand (as we did first with bike lanes, then bike boulevards, and soon bike sharing) so you get the low-hanging fruit first. But you need to not stop there, and that’s probably why Portland’s mode share has stagnated.

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  • Amysue March 3, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Focusing on what the person on the bike is wearing detracts attention from the necessity of changing the infrastructure to make riding a bike safe for all, not to mention that it shifts the blame and responsibility to the person on the bike for not being seen etc. Let me say it again:

    Thank you for riding your bike, no matter what you’re wearing.

    And let’s remember that moving is in and if itself an expensive and stressful thing, and that moving to be able to bike commute is a luxury. It’s also a luxury of imagination, to be able to envision oneself replacing a soul sucking drive with a comfortable and fun bike ride. And often times two working adults share a house hold and must choose a place to live that is acceptable for both, commute-wise.

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    • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Agreed, apparel matters little. What I have more in mind is, for instance, the ability to ride a straight line while looking over (or under) one’s shoulder. Not for deciding who to blame after a collision, but for minimizing the chance of collision and thus keeping the rider well and whole.

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  • Gravalox March 3, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    for some reason I find their thoughts puzzling… I may need it explained to me like i’m 5… having somebody talk about bike commuting via LA Bike Trains and then having the next speaker crap all over bike commuting?

    I’m all for bunny ears… but where around town can you just ride your bike around during the day with your feet kicked out yelling, ‘Wheee!”… don’t we need better infrastructure to facilitate this?

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  • spare_wheel March 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    IMO, equating bikes with entertainment (or sport) reinforces car-centric attitudes that bikes are toys. I find the increasing tendency of some “bike (culture) advocates” to criticize and mock commuters to be short-sighted and divisive. I guess I should not be surprised, however. Criticism of bike commuters is a natural extension of the earlier tendency to mock or demean those who wear sporty clothing or ride a sporty bike.

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    • 9watts March 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I’m (I think) with Lilian. Why focus so much attention on commuters? Some of us don’t commute, but by virtue of eschewing a car we bike everywhere, every day – and have a ton of fun doing it – until some rich woman almost clips you on Foster because she was texting!

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      • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

        See, this part I don’t get. If you are getting around to where you need to be, are you not commuting?

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        • 9watts March 3, 2014 at 5:20 pm

          You tell me. My understanding is that commuting is no more and no less than *getting to and from your job.*

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        • Joseph E March 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

          “Commuting is regular travel between one’s place of residence and place of work or full-time study”

          It also usually implies traveling by vehicle (Bike/bus/train/car); most people who walk to work don’t see themselves as “commuters.” The original commuters were people who rode trains from the suburbs:

          “The word commuter derives from early days of rail travel in US cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago, where, in the 1840s, the railways engendered suburbs from which travellers paying a reduced or ‘commuted’ fare into the city. Later, the back formations “commute” and “commuter” were coined”

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commuting

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          • Bill Walters March 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm

            Fair enough, though Merriam-Webster sets a lower minimum: “to travel regularly to and from a place.”

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/commute

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            • Lillian Karabaic March 4, 2014 at 12:02 pm

              Well, I’m talking about data in the bike advocacy community & encouragement programs. Many advocacy programs focus on bike commuting to work without talking about other trips (smarttrips in portland though does a great job of those other trips.) The data that bike advocates rely on is from the journey-to-work ACS census data – I’m saying we need to start doing a better job of collecting non-commuting journey data.

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      • spare_wheel March 3, 2014 at 7:07 pm

        “All the talk from the “helmet mirrors and padded buts crowd,” about gear, helmets, lane positioning, tire width and hand signals, she added, is doing nothing to get more people on bikes.”

        this kind of language stereotypes transportation cycling in fairly general way. i also question the implicit assumption that a “bunny on a bike ride” or “bowie vs prince ride” is a great way to increase cycling mode share.

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      • Miles Bader March 4, 2014 at 1:06 am

        I agree that the apparent obsession with commuting one so often sees in American bike-advocacy discussions seems a little funny… other sorts of trips are very important too. Bikes are most useful for shorter trips, especially at the slower speeds that are the norm among “non-enthusiasts”, and commutes often tend to be longer than other regular trips (to the store, etc).

        Because one’s commute is often considered “special” (many people commute by train, but drive everywhere else), it may be _non-commute_ trips that set the tone for how people think about transportation; if people get used to just hopping on their bike and going off to see a movie or go to the store, it might make them more likely to bike other places too.

        I think in the most bike-successful cultures, one sees bikes being widely used as “general” transportation.

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    • Jeff March 4, 2014 at 2:45 pm

      I totally agree …if you are commuting by bike every day chances are good that you pretty much bike full time …these are just the kind of riders we need to encourage people to become. I do think there is some validity to the argument that living close enough to commute by bike is a luxury in of itself but more everyday cyclists regardless of income level is the ideal as far as I’m concerned

      Fwiw I’m currently unemployed but I normally have the type of job where I’m being screamed at by customers my whole shift so I at least am a full time cyclist who lives close to the city and I dont have a cushy tech job or something like that

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  • Jame March 3, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    I won’t be biking to work anytime soon. I work too far, and there are no safe routes between the train and and my office. I don’t want to ride on the 40mph street. I see people biking near my office, and 50% are biking on the sidewalk. Unless I change jobs or move, it won’t happen anytime soon.

    But I can get to most of my errands and fun on my bike. USing the stat that most stuff we do is within 2-3 miles of home, how do you teach people to use a bike for that trip? Figure out how to bike to the grocery store, pharmacy or dry cleaner.

    I would like to see more messaging on how to do life by bike. Not just go to work, which can be wildly impractical or impossible for many reasons.

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  • Mossby Pomegranate March 3, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I think I see what Lilian is saying, but sorry costumes don’t get me out of bed at 5:15 in the morning to bike commute to Swan Island in the cold and dark. I *NEED* infrastructure. This stuff is serious to me. My bike is my transportation. Without it I’m stuck with public transit that just does not fit my needs.

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  • dwainedibbly March 3, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Commuting by bike is a lot more fun than commuting by car.

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  • Peter March 3, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    You don’t create more supporters of you cause by criticizing suits and ties and spandex.

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  • gutterbunny March 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I never have liked the focus on “commuters” for a number of reasons. But the main one is that some of us don’t have the option to commute by bike.

    There isn’t a bike around (even with e assist) that can haul all my gear for work -(400lb welding machine, 200 lb of welding leed, and of course all the other hand tools and gear that I need). I know not everyone doesn’t carry such a load, but being in construction your work is always changing, so even if you don’t have much gear, one job might be 10 minutes from your house the next 2 hours. And construction is a big industry that employees many people in every city.

    I also don’t like the focus on commuter cycling because it’s only (for many people) a two way trip. Often outside the 3-5 mile radius from peoples houses. More focus should be placed on lowering car dependence on the trips to school, library, grocery store, convenience store. These are the trips that are best suited for bikes, and should be the focus of any city bicycle development. The problem is that they don’t seem very sexy, and typically don’t make good photo ops or build resumes for the ambitious bureaucrats in charge of the projects.

    Developing a system to the “commuters” basically gives us paths which are much like the highway system. Long paths that aren’t really designed to get you anywhere but one area of town. In Portlands case it’s like Clinton, Lincoln, and Ankeny or any of the other east/west greenways/lanes. They are designed to go through a neighborhood- not to anywhere in the neighborhood. And there is a huge difference between these two mid sets.

    Of course PDOT is trying to change this (maybe) with hopes of direct access to the commercial tracks on 28th, And the future Foster road changes. But as it stands now, all the bike infrastructure is basically the Banfield for bikes.

    I don’t care about clothes, I don’t wear a helmet, or reflective gear, I do have lights for night riding. But that’s about it. My kit is what ever I happen to be wearing at the time I get on a bike, as it has most days since I started riding as a kid nearly 35 years ago.

    I do agree that advocates spend too much time on infrastructure, and considering the number one thing that makes the roads safer for cyclists is more cyclists. There should be more of a focus on increasing ridership regardless of the areas infrastructure. Engineers and designers are short sited and will always think that the problem is infrastructure (if you only have a hammer every problem is a nail), it’s what they know. But infrastructure doesn’t really increase bike share, Never has and never will. It’s always follows demand. And what advocates need to do is spend more time increasing demand.

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  • parker March 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I think it’s the magic – biking pulls you in; my doc agrees I’m addicted but says it’s OK. I feel at one with (and wave at) all the good safe bikers I see every day – some in team lycra, many in unglamorous but efficient outfits like my own, quite a few (bless ‘em) moms and dads with kids in the Burley or on the back of the long-tail, or in a child seat, and so on. My colleagues at work have learned not to bother offering me car rides, or to assume I’m suffering or “trying to save the planet”. A main reason I keep on my job at age 73 is so I can enjoy refreshing myself on my 15-mile-each-way commute; on holiday weekends I miss it. All ways are the Way…

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    • CaptainKarma March 5, 2014 at 1:43 pm

      You inspire me to start doing my 13 mile each way trip that I’m fence-sitting about.

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  • Zach March 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm

    Meh, I don’t want a “bike culture” — especially not one with more costumes. I just want bicycling to be a normal thing. A thing that can still inspire beauty, a thing that can be really fun (and yes, that you can dress up/be in costume for, too, if you’d like!), and a thing that people can connect with other people over — but, at the end of the day, just a normal thing that everyday people can do to get themselves from work and play and all the chores in between. Bunny ears doesn’t make it a normal thing. Good infrastructure makes it a normal thing.

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  • jd March 3, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    It’s awesome that the last speaker loves fun so much. But I care about bike commuting, and as a mom, I am less interested in costumes than affordable, safe safe safe bike trailers and the several-year gap when at least one kid is too little to go on a bike.

    I care about practical matters, and I don’t like that practicality has somehow been gendered as a male thing here. I do love fun, but I bike to work more than I bike (just) for fun.

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  • Dweendaddy March 4, 2014 at 6:55 am

    I’ll take (and talk) concrete over costumes any day. Sure, Portland has a higher share than any city in the US, with its naked bike ride and Bowie vs Prince ride, but when you look at places that have serious bike share, like cities in the Netherlands, they don’t have a cycle share built around silly themes.

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    • Lillian Karabaic March 4, 2014 at 9:43 am

      And they also don’t get riders engaged with riding by talking about concrete, either. Or gear. Or lane position. Riders in Copenhagen and Amsterdam ride because it is practical and easy. Riders in Copenhagen ride with their friends because it’s a way to have a conversation and have fun. Fun is still king, costumed or not. My argument is that you need to engage people with bikes doing the things they already enjoy doing – you aren’t going to get new riders by focusing on the dull benefits or the wonky aspects, you’re going to get people excited about using bikes to do fun things. Then the practicality comes later.

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      • spare_wheel March 5, 2014 at 11:41 am

        your comment reminds me of colville-andersen’s characterization of bikes as vacuum cleaners and the upset this utilitarian view of cycling evokes among USAnian advocates. moreover, when USAnian bike advocates visit copenhagen there is a natural tendency to snap a photo of the couple holding hands while cycling and not the mass of cyclists in a bike traffic jam.

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  • Jeremy Cohen March 4, 2014 at 8:55 am

    I am sensing that the majority of folks commenting here missed the point. Her talk is about INCREASING the number of people (specifically women) that use a bicycle at all. She is not saying infrastucture is not important, but talking *ONLY* about infrastucture will continue to disenfranchise the same people who are already disenfranchised. I appreciate her perspective that showing that biking is enjoyable is a great first step to getting more people out there.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be super surprised that comments on a bike-blog are focused on infrastructure and commuters. Nor am I surprised that so many people are so defensive about the role of privilege in the bike world. Women and communities of color have been excluded from the bike conversation for a long time– it will take something different to change that dynamic and encourage under-represented riders to join in.

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    • 9watts March 4, 2014 at 9:01 am

      “Women and communities of color have been excluded from the bike conversation for a long time”
      Perhaps I am not seeing this so clearly because I am a white male, but when I was a kid I just started biking… and never stopped. I was not aware of any conversation then, I just liked it, found it offered the kind of freedom of movement the car promised, but at a trivial cost.

      I’m all for inclusiveness, for being sensitive to how we’ve unwittingly (or perhaps even wittingly) marginalized certain groups, but at the end of the day you can still pump up the tires of the neglected bike in the garage and get on it and ride. No one’s stopping you, regardless of sex or skin color.

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    • spare_wheel March 4, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      “but talking *ONLY* about infrastucture”

      i agree that the time for talking is over. we should be funding active transport infrastructure in outer east portland now. instead, we are poised to spend many millions of dollars on bike infrastructure that benefits predominantly white inner portland residents. same as it ever was.

      “disenfranchise the same people who are already disenfranchised”

      ?

      “Women and communities of color have been excluded from the bike conversation for a long time”

      advocating for infrastructure excludes women? i think you may want to rethink that part of your argument. and while there is often a social equity/gentrification argument against bike infrastructure, i don’t think fred p transpowonk is the main villain. i should also note that portland “bike fun/culture” (the approach proposed here) is not especially inclusive of communities of color.

      http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8159/7471397528_452e72f484.jpg

      “Nor am I surprised that so many people are so defensive about the role of privilege in the bike world.”

      if you are going to accuse “many people” of being defensive it would be nice if you could provide some examples.

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    • Jeff March 4, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      I’m interested in this because while I understand that the culture around bike shops is dominated by men I dont nessasarly see bikes as an inherently gendered issue. I guess I dont understand how there can specifically be infrastructure that serves women and children…having said that I think anything that can be done to sell it is fine by me …different audencies require different approaches

      But as far as I see it ultimately its infrastructure that will convince more people to ride …making cycling more appealing is great but if its not safe people who have a choice will drop away regardless of how enthusiastic they are

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    • Bill Walters March 4, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      OK, but is it really bunny ears and the like that will make a difference with, say, diversity populations? Or might that be perceived as in the same demeaning ballpark as assumptions about food affinities and linguistic markers?

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  • Jim Wilcox March 5, 2014 at 7:23 am

    All of the above. We need all methods to increase the use of bikes.
    While the message here is to focus less on equipment, including clothing, Gil Penalosa notes that in Copenhagen, it’s not the weather that is the problem, it is the wrong clothes.
    And speaking of Copenhagen, convenience is the main reason for commuting by bike. Whenever possible, we should make it easier to bike than to drive, part of the strategic direction adopted by Portland and Eugene in their plans. That also means, eliminating incentives to drive, like tax subsidized inner city car parking.

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  • Dave March 5, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Yes, why is it “elitist” to teach survival skills? And why, pray tell, is there this idea that infantilizing adult cyclists is a good idea? What is so threatening about adult cyclists who display skilled riding? Does riding a road bike in cycling clothes make me a Hells Angel or something? This strikes me as weird, stupid, crazy. ‘Scuse me while I go feed the pitbulls and clean the meth lab.

    Bill Walters
    Hmmm: “It’s a luxury that you live close enough to bike to work.”
    Nope, it’s a matter of deliberate planning. Now, forking over (and over and over) for the family’s second motor vehicle? That would be a luxury.
    And “all the talk” about technique and equipment? Right, that won’t draw new riders and I submit that it’s not intended to. Rather, it’s to help keep existing riders well and whole.
    This is why, even since the early 90s as a bike-program student administrator at UC Davis, I have not been able to give my heart over to such activism: It seems less than moral to recruit eager new folks into situations that may well endanger them. If I recruit them, I care about them. And if I care about them, I want to equip them to be savvy and capable — like those of us, both boys *and* girls, who grew up riding and racing.
    The MPHs in charge of the old-days Davis program called that “mastery” and declared it out of scope. But I’m not sure the scope, both then and now, is without a certain element of virgin-into-the-volcano sacrifice; reference Kathryn Rickson, et al.
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  • Joe March 5, 2014 at 10:00 am

    hey sorry to the guy that rubbed me the wrong way yes i ride fixed gear no pls don’t slam breaks on me, or over take a rider. we all on the streets together right?

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  • Joe March 5, 2014 at 10:03 am

    brakes :) and full TIME carbon road bike with street clothes on I love portland riding

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  • Davd March 5, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Not entirely. Until we realize that a free market in real property is a problem and not a solution, we will price people out of short travel to their work regardless of the mode we use. We need a very socialized housing policy, and to be spending money on mass transit more lavishly than we are willing now to spend it on war.

    Chris I
    It’s a luxury to live in a society with cheap fuel and subsidized infrastructure that enables people to live 20, 40, or 60+ miles from their jobs. 100 years ago everyone had to live near their place of work. There was no other option. Suburban living is just as much of a “luxury” as small apartment city living. It’s just a matter of personal priorities.
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  • GlowBoy March 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    If you want to advocate for the fun side of biking, great. I’m all for it. Bike is inherently fun, and if they find infrastructure boring then people like Karabaic are welcome to help make it more fun.

    But there’s no need to belittle those of us who also focus on using bikes to get around. “Riders in Copenhagen and Amsterdam ride because it is practical and easy.” Yes, because the concrete there has already been taken care of. The USA, on the other hand, still have dire infrastructural challenges here that present major obstacles to biking.

    There’s no need to be so divisive. The bike movement should have room BOTH for people who want to attract more people to biking by appealing to the fun side, AND for those who want to make it safer and more practical.

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