Powerful misconceptions still drive the dialogue

Posted by on February 27th, 2007 at 9:05 am

Like any minority, as we work to move bicycles from an “alternative” mode of travel to a more widely used and mainstream transportation choice, we will be forced to defend deeply entrenched misconceptions and negative stereotypes.

Even in Portland, America’s most bike-friendly city, many folks still lump anyone who uses a bicycle into one big group of Critical Mass-loving, rampant law-breaking fanatics.

When faced with these outdated and untrue ideas I get frustrated, but then I realize that this is a major barrier to moving the bicycle dialogue forward and I simply cannot ignore it.

The most recent example of this is a post I just read on the NW Republican blog. The author of the post had just heard an OPB story about the BTA’s Senate Bill 299, which includes the three-foot passing proposal.

While it would be easy to brush off that post in the same way some in the community told me to not antagonize the Jammin 95.5 shock jock, I feel the misconceptions illustrated in it are important to address.

After all, if we cannot constructively engage those who don’t share our affinity for pedal-power, especially when their perspectives are shaped by misconceptions, than we will never be able to take major steps forward and we will remain a marginalized minority always fighting to defend ourselves both in the court of public opinion, and on our roads.

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Do you think these misconceptions about “bicyclists” are a real barrier to moving bicycle use forward in Portland? If so, how can we shift the dialogue?

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mykle
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mykle

It would be a mistake to believe that the writers at NW Republican are representative of normal public attitudes. Bloggers are extremists by definition. And in the Republican camp there’s a certain tradition of stubborn-minded ranting to shore up otherwise flimsy propositions. (In fact, I believe the RNC funds conservative bloggers, and cuts off their funds if they soften their positions. So really, he’s artificially bigoted by market forces.)

Nevertheless, it’s interesting to ponder how to engage people like that. Screaming never works. I wouldn’t focus on trying to change that guy’s mind, but rather I’d try to have a dialogue with him that shows all the people who are watching that I’m reasonable and honest and approachable. Lead by example, and break the stereotype. Keep it positive, and the positive people will notice.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Mykle,

I also think it would be a mistake to think “bloggers are extremists by definition”.

I don’t think you can define bloggers much like I don’t think you can define “cyclists”.

I agree with you that leading by example can have a powerful impact.

And I think you might be surprised how closely NW Republican’s view of cyclists is in line with “normal public attitudes”.

Erik H.
Guest
Erik H.

All endeavors, including this one, seem to have their own barriers. The misconceptions, the disconnect pointed out by Jonathan is remarkable in its similarity to the misperceptions all of us have about those who don’t bike, who vote Republican, who like the color brown, ad nauseum. We all have agendas to push and there’s always others pushing back.

My solution as an individual is to connect with others on non-contentious issues first. Find common ground, develop trust and compassion, and the issue will blend its way in. If this relationship built on universal values can survive, a person can ultimately either disregard the relationship or find their own views altered.

For me, this highlights the importance of being diplomatic, rather than adversarial about things. It reminds me to try to connect with all, not just those that share the same values. Above all, we need to be lovable/likable first and bicyclists fighting the good fight as a secondary aim.

Nate
Guest
Nate

I looked at the profile of the author of the post on the NW Republican Blog. It states that he is in the transportation industry. I wonder exactly what that means?

John
Guest
John

I wonder if SUV salesmen count as being in the transportation industry.

brettoo
Guest
brettoo

Thanks for pointing this out, Jonathan. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of this on hate radio and letters to the editor in coming months as the new legislature finally advances some pro-bike and pro-ped bills. So we should prepare now.

It’s imperative for us to know just how these people will try to twist the facts and frame the issue in a way we can’t win. So when we speak to others or write letters to the newspaper or our reps, we have to acknowledge, refute and pre-empt this kind of frame, and then re-frame the issue according to the values that underlie our position.

Don’t get sucked into debating on their unfair terms. There’s a line to the effect of “when you mud wrestle with a pig, everyone gets dirty.”

I agree with mykle’s post above. Remember, these guys have had decades of practice at just this sort of manipulation, starting with the Nixon media manipulators like Pat Buchanan and refined by the Limbaughs and Larsens of today. So while I admire your desire to “engage” with them, remember that most of the time, they’re not open minded, honest debaters — they’re ranting in order to stimulate an emotional reaction, based on lies, to advance a policy position. Usually it’s one that happens to serve the profits of certain major economic players.

Instead, we have to engage with the real people out there — fair minded, maybe not up on all the facts about transportation alternatives (e.g. health, costs and benefits, community and so on), not necessarily sharing our assumptions and facts, but perhaps sharing our values. And then make our case in a factual way that shows how pro-bike policies advance our shared values. The responses you and others made to that post are eminently sensible and reasoned, not inflammatory– good job.

It’s great that you’re keeping your eyes open for this sort of thing. I know I’m guilty of talking mostly to people who already agree with me and know the facts about these issues, but we need to hear what the opponents say, modify our positions if the facts warrant (not the case in this instance) and use that knowledge to learn how to talk to those who don’t already agree with us.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

brettoo’s right!

Tbird
Guest
Tbird

I think mis-conceptions and real perceptions( like road safety) are most certainly standing in the way of progress for “our people”. The misconceptions, I think you’ve outlined fairly well, are probably the most pressing. While I think that a Critical Mass type mentality can be an effective tactic at many levels, it also leads to the mob mentality among the “massers” and that unfortunately can give us a poor image.
How about a “not so Crtical Mass” type of PR campaign? Perhaps we could all challenge ourselves to “witness” to the unconverted. It seems to be a tried and true technique for the Christians ( not that there’s anything wrong with that;)) What I imagine is we each pick a friend, neighbor, co-worker, parent, house pet etc… and make it our mission to guide them to the flock of peddle power and eternal glory ever lasting.
Direct action is often the most effective technique in any revolution. Ours should be no different.
Pick a friend and “witness” to them like their salvation depends on it, in many ways it does. Help them to get the gear and courage to ride one day a week to work or public transit point. Achieving that; encourage them to ride more than one day per week, and then challenge them to go out and convert another…and so on.
Just a thought.

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I don’t really understand why it should be a Republican position to be anti bike… My dad is a pretty conservative guy who is a registered republican, but he also rode his bike 4-5 miles each way to work and back everyday for 30 years. It started as a way to save money by only having one car for the family but I think he found a lot of hidden benefits over the years.

Plenty of people whose politics on other issues I don’t agree with like bikes, or at least don’t mind if other people want to ride them. Another question might be how to make sure that anti-bike people don’t end up making anti-bike, especially anti-bike safety a part of the Republican party platform.

Bjorn

Bjorn
Guest
Bjorn

I also noticed that the Blog has a link right by the story to Senator Atkinson’s blog. Interesting choice considering that the Senator supports this bill along with several other upcoming bike bills. Maybe someone from his office will contact the author to discuss it further.

Bjorn

Martha
Guest
Martha

I just read that post and the subsequent comments. Thanks, Jonathan, for being one of the first to comment on that blog and for commenting in a way that created a positive discussion rather than a descent into name-calling and finger pointing.

What impressed me about the comments (as of now…I have no way to know where they’ll lead) was that many of the respondants stated that they were well-educated, employed, and responsible citizens who simply wanted respect on the road. That’s a really effective argument.

Indeed, we do still need those fringes — people at the very edge of the argument, who are willing to make the wacky, out-there argument and fight hard for it in spite of what other people think. Without them, we could become complacent with what we’ve got and never think to push hard enough to make the difficult changes. But in the end, the most radical changes will probably come from plain old folks making unremarkable changes in their daily lives — like riding a bike to the store.

Over the years of my bike commuting, I’ve figured out that smiling and sweetly telling a driver that their actions were extremely dangerous to me is far more effective than flipping them off. I want drivers to learn to respect bicyclists and also learn how their driving affects my well-being. I want them to think that we’re wonderful people who deserve respect on the road, and the way to do it is to be positive, cheerful, and respectful. Lest you think I’m some sort of pollyanna with nary a negative thought, I maintain my sanity by imagining all the horrible things that are just about to happen to those drivers who cut me off…

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

It reminds me to try to connect with all, not just those that share the same values. Above all, we need to be lovable/likable first and bicyclists fighting the good fight as a secondary aim.

I get what you’re saying, and largely agree, though “loveable/likeable” is maybe a bit of a stretch. I think we can all agree that it’s wrong to, say, go fling bathtub napalm all over NW Republican’s house, but I don’t exactly want to *hug* him, either. 🙂

Folks are always going to be around who adamantly reject other peoples’ values. Give them no reason and then they’re just being disagreeable. Remember, kids: nobody likes an asshole, and that works both ways.

sheldon
Guest
sheldon

Great post Jonathan, but I think you’re stretching it a bit comparing the blog posting to the flippant comments of some insincere shock jock. The critical mass reference annoys me as well, but the rest of the post isn’t all that bad, nor or the comments (many from Republicans/bikers). Sensationalism has always been a part of news/blog posts and it will continue to be.

I don’t see any value getting into extreme opinions. It’s wrong to pigeonhole them as gas guzzling, SUV junkies, just as it is to label all bikers critical massholes.

If you really think about, those in PDX are much more likely to have a bad encounter with lefty leaning driver than a right winger. I have yet to be run over by a SUV with a W sticker, but I’ve had several bad experiences with people driving a Suby wagon with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on the bumper.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

I don’t really understand why it should be a Republican position to be anti bike…

Indeed. I think a lot of it has to do with two things:

1) the assumption that bike commuting automatically indicates anti-car sentiment

2) the assumption that a primary motivation for biking is pro-environment

There’s nothing like convincing yourself that the small choices of other human beings are a challenge to *your* (singular) way of life, or the delusional reactionary behavior that results from it, or the I’m-the-bright-little-center-of-the-universe leap of logic required to believe such nonsense in the first place.

Dan Bower
Guest
Dan Bower

“but I’ve had several bad experiences with people driving a Suby wagon with a Kerry/Edwards sticker on the bumper.”

Sheldon, sorry about my wife, I’ll talk to her tonight!

Jonathan, you might recall PDOT held a series of focus groups around bicycles recently, and what was striking to me was how people’s negative perception of bicyclists were mostly based on one or two personal experiences…imagine an Ad-lib “Bicylists are (adjective), one time this cyclists (insert typical negative statement) me/my friend/my co-worker. Bicyclists should have to (get a license, pay taxes, whatever)…you get my point. Almost every person in our focus groups relayed this type of statement and I think, unfortunately, that high profile groups or stories about “mis-behaving” cyclists shape perceptions because it’s the only exposure to cycling that a lot of people have.

Brian E.
Guest
Brian E.

And I’m a Republican? I read DarePDX’s profile and it says his goal is to increase the numbers of Republicans in Portland. Maybe he is a double agent and really works for the Democrats…..

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

Most people plainly see that cycling advocacy and Republicanism are antithetical:

Corporatism, power given to commercial interests over civic interests, is a Republican tenet into which the personal automobile and enabling industries of Oil, Construction, Insurance, etc. fit with nicely by working against other transportation means, including funding cycling infrastructure. See the trolley and electric cars’ history to know what those industries would like to have happen to your bicycle.

Consumption on a scale only made possible by externalizing costs and using energy unsustainably, is a Republican virtue, not a democratic one. See Jimmy Carter. Internalizing energy costs is the cyclist’s virtue.

Republican globalization is at odds with the localizing nature of the bicycle.

Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel… the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood.
~Susan B. Anthony, 1896

What party is hostile women’s rights again? Oh yes, the Republican party.

Bjorn, N.I.K. please show me any republican/pro-bicycling coincident agenda, other than a president that can send an irish cop to the hospital while cycling and your own feelings of personal exemption from the rule that republicans and bicycles don’t mix.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Bjorn, N.I.K. please show me any republican/pro-bicycling coincident agenda…

Sorry John, but I’m not aware of an Olympia-Snowe-of-cycling-advocacy type of character. 🙁 Just saying that we need to be cautious about sweeping generalizations, because, unlikely as it seems sometimes, not everyone who is a member of party X is 100% in step with the quasi-official party line. Mind you, this ain’t just for the sake of being polite! Fact is, it’s incredibly easy for your opponents on given issues to characterize you when you characterize them yourself. Don’t turn yourself into fodder for the cheap shots.

Garlynn
Guest

I would agree that it’s dangerous to pigeonhole Republicans as being anti-bike, or anti-transit, or even anti-environment.

Sure, there’s a really bad crop of Republicans currently ruling this country (at least, two of the three branches of the federal government, now that the Dems have a marginal lead in Congress). However, don’t forget that Tom McCall was a Republican, but he is often credited as being one of the fathers of the Oregon environmental movement.

Also, don’t tell anybody else, but sources tell me that Bicyclin’ Bud Clark (woot woot!) was actually a registered Republican prior to switching parties to run for the non-affiliated office of Portland Mayor in 1984.

And, finally, there are rumors that Republican Jason Atkinson is a co-sponsor of the current BTA pro-bike-safety legislation in Salem.

Not to mention folks like Paul Weyrich, Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation, who is a reported *total* “trolley jolley”…

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

Exceptions like Olympia-Snow reaffirm the general evidence that Republicans are destroying longheld American values.
Fact is, it’s incredibly easy for your opponents on given issues to characterize you when you characterize them yourself. Don’t turn yourself into fodder for the cheap shots.
Dems even today allow the arguments and themselves to be framed by Republicans by not doing so first and forcibly.

Fodder is what you become when you don’t call evil by it’s name.

And btw quite simply, unless Bush, Cheney and Gonzalez are tried for torture while siting in a courtroom cage, the US corporate-sponsored ethical decline will continue and you and I can be expected to gladly subsidize more 6 billion dollar bridges built for the cross-continent transport of lettuce.

John

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

Garlynn,
Lincoln was a Republican, and lots of otherwise good people used to owned slaves. However if you own slaves today, it’s generally a bad thing, as is identifying yourself as belonging to a party led by a giggling murderer.
You do not get to define the party platform. The people you voted for do.

Guess what the answer is? hint: it isn’t to hope for a another Republican leader that doesn’t kill hundreds of thousands of innocents.

Bill
Guest
Bill

From the AUSTIN AMERICAN STATESMAN:

“In 1971, Don Stathos, a Republican state representative angry that his grandchildren couldn’t ride safely to school, penned the Oregon Bicycle Bill. That law set aside 1 percent of all state highway funds to build and maintain bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. ”

The complete article:

http://www.statesman.com/life/content/life/stories/health/12/10/10bikeportland.html

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

Dems even today allow the arguments and themselves to be framed by Republicans by not doing so first and forcibly.

Bullhonky. The level of generalization you’re talking about is practically McCarthyist in its implications: divisive “you’re either for us or against us” black/white reductionism. Unsuccessfully employed, this results in you being labeled a lunatic extremist. Successfully employed, it generates undue persecution, buck-passing, and blame-shifting that only obfuscates process.

In politics, one faction merely demonizing another faction only makes for crap theater and more partisan deadlocking amongst our elected representatives. It’s better to talk about actual issues. And that doesn’t mean “avoid calling people out” – if you’re going to do it, do it specifically. On-record facts carry a lot more weight than glorified name-calling.

Ron Forrester
Guest
Ron Forrester

Wow, some great observations and dialog.

I just want to add something that I have noticed both in myself, and in many people around me, and that is that my car takes away my humanity.

When we’re in our cars, more often than not we do not feel human, we are more machine, whether we admit it or not. Cars tend to remove that feeling of fragility from their occupants. Drivers take more chances, because they can feel somewhat safe doing so, and they do not recognize the perspective of those not encased in 2 tons of metal and plastic.

Drivers don’t interact with each other, because it’s impractical and dangerous to do so. So we aren’t humans out there, we’re machines navigating our way to the next destination, always in a hurry.

What’s most liberating to me as an avid cyclist is that reminder that I am fragile, and the humans around me are too (being hit by a car broadside last November was a stark reminder). Cars are big and scary and impervious from the perspective of pedestrians and cyclists.

Additionally, I get to interact with other cyclists, pedestrians, etc. It brings back the human aspect to my travel.

I firmly believe that if everyone spent a day a week commuting by bike, the bike/car relationships would be much better.

Having said all this, there are definitely cyclists, I’ve encountered them, who could use a slight perspective adjustment, so it’s not just the cars. But I will come right out and say, it is mostly the cars 🙂

Anyway, those of us who both drive and cycle need to bridge the gap. We can share the road while we work really hard to reduce significantly the number of cars on it.

Cheers,
Ron

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

Bill, I read the article last week too, and missed the 1971 reference on first read, apparently as you have. 38 years renders the mention of his party in this context meaningless.

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

It is full-on crap theater time. Politics meet N.I.K., N.I.K. meet Politics.

N.I.K.
Guest
N.I.K.

It is full-on crap theater time.

Yes, it is. Why aim to buy into it and extend the whole childish show? It’s no different than cyclists calling all motorists “cagers” and proclaiming the lot of them to be the enemy -which is to say, again, it’s stupid and pointless.

trike
Guest
trike

I’d say the level of molevelance is about normal for a drivers blog; the drivers soon begin to threaten the bikers. the bikers try to rally and fail because we really have no way to defend ourselves.

the arguments on the blog are the same as on other blogs; the drivers are pretty much united in there willingness to tell us we are going to be run down for the transgression of riding our bikes.

so tell me what the missconception is?
as i see it most of the drivers only see bikers as something in the way that makes them slow down or have to wait.

the only
way we are gonna get any real respect is if we have a way to make drivers hurt. currently we have no way to do this effectivly. the fines are too low and the enforcement is near nonexistant; hit and run is rampent. most drivers dont even notice if they clip you with a mirror because the sound dampning in cars is so good.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“[T]he only way we are gonna get any real respect is if we have a way to make drivers hurt. [C]urrently we have no way to do this effectively.”

Not quite true. If a driver comes too close to you, uses his car as a weapon, threatens or otherwise harasses you, or makes contact with you, get the license number and call a lawyer. It’s civil assault (at least). And you should sue. In fact, if you believe as trike and I do, then you have a moral obligation to sue on behalf of all cyclists. Then we get respect one crime at a time.

DR
Guest
DR

A_O:

Are you actually a lawyer? This comment is incredibly interesting. What level of proof is necessary to prove the assault? Just today I had a woman in Bethany come within inches of my left elbow, with clearly malevolent intent (the middle finger after passing me left little doubt. And to think, it was snowing at the time. You’d think there’d be a little sympathy.)

Without witnesses, could I have done something with a license plate? If I was riding with someone else, would that person qualify as a witness in a case like this? It sure would be sweet to actually be able to do something about jerks like this woman. If word started getting out that cyclists were pressing assault charges against aggressive drivers, it may not do much to heal driver/cyclist relations, but it sure would cut down on aggressive driving.

I’ve always likened the intentional-near-side-swipe to being just like firing a warning shot over someone’s shoulder. There’re deadly consequences if you misjudge your aim. And it damn well should be illegal.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“Are you actually a lawyer?”

Yes. Oregon State Bar # 06354. But I am not YOUR lawyer, nor am I the lawyer of anybody reading this. Because I am not your lawyer, I cannot provide you with legal advice and so I cannot address your particular situation. But I can address hypothetical situations, like the one I discussed above. Sorry if this sounds weird, but I’m ethically obligated to make clear to whom I am and am not providing my professional services.

“What level of proof is necessary to prove the assault?”

The standard of proof in all civil cases is a preponderance of the evidence. This means that you must prove that something is more likely than not. This loosely translates to a 51% likelihood standard of proof.

“Without witnesses, could I have done something with a license plate?”

Citizens cannot obtain the identity of an vehicle owner by providing the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles with a license plate number. An attorney representing a client contemplating civil litigation can.

“I was riding with someone else, would that person qualify as a witness in a case like this?”

First-hand or personal experience with an event is the only qualification necessary to be competent to testify in a court of law. Virtually all other issues, e.g., intoxication or poor eyesight, go to the credibility of the witness.

“If word started getting out that cyclists were pressing assault charges against aggressive drivers, it may not do much to heal driver/cyclist relations, but it sure would cut down on aggressive driving.”

Exactly. When this has happened to me, and there have been several times because I tend to take the entire lane unless I think it is safe to move over (as the law allows), it has infuriated me. As you point out, it is essentially Russian roulette with a car.

I have seen far too many people use their car as a weapon, and I will not tolerate it any further. The next time this happens to me, I am going to sue.

I will pull off the road, dial the police, and demand that a police report be filed (civil assault is also a crime, with a different name, under Oregon law).

Then I will file suit in the local circuit court. The reason this technique would be so effective is that the defendant will either have to hire a lawyer or default (give the plaintiff an automatic win by not showing up). Either way, they are forced to spend hundreds of dollars, at least. Suddenly, “teaching bikers a lesson” doesn’t seem like such a good idea.

As I have said before here, I do not do personal injury or tort work, so I do not stand to profit from a cyclist suing a driver.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

John Boyd you really make me want to drive my car to work tomorrow. If you think you can saddle me your politics just because I ride a bike, and I want that to be better and safer, you are full of ca-ca. Your reasoning is causist and fatuous.

Jonathon, if you want to “shift the dialog” away from barriers that impede the progess of cycle advocacy, then make sure you divorce bike advocacy from hipster politics. Pro-bike does not equal anti-car, and it makes no reference to globalization, consumerism, recycling, freeganism, reproductive rights, or an opinion of GW. It is merely a position that advocates an inclusive infrastructure and the ascertion of a narrow range of civil liberties.

andy
Guest
andy

Ok, this is sort of off topic, but is a riff off A_O’s #31. Is there any sort of legal financial assistance in Oregon for cyclists who have had encounters (close or direct) with motorists who have broken the law? Should there be? Most times the police are too busy – or just plain don’t give a crap – to go after scofflaw motorists. And it’s mighty expensive to do the legwork on your own.

Scott
Guest
Scott

so… as usual here, we have some good comments and some that I wish I didn’t have to wast my time scrolling through.

As a registered republican for all of my voting life, I have to say that I know for a fact, there are bicycle advocates in this city as well as many others around the country who are also republicans. The two are not mutually exclusive as some people on both sides have asserted. As coyote said “Pro-bike does not equal anti-car.”

John Boyd post #25: If the simple passage of 38 years “renders the mention of his party in this context meaningless,” then surely the passing of over one hundred years renders your mention of Susan B Anthony’s quote meaningless as well.

You seem to be awfully prejudice and stereotypical in your views–oh wait, I forgot, that is how we republicans are supposed to act.

My its easy to get sarcastic when sitting behind this keyboard buffered from the eye contact, tone of voice and body language of the others in the room.

I am not surprised that Coyote wants to drive to work tomorrow. It is the same attitude that makes me as a cyclist want to take a lane in 35mph traffic.

Causist and fatuous… I love it when I have to go to dictionary.com.

Come back again Coyote. I’d like to hear more of your point of view engaged in meaningful dialog here.

One question though… Can you please elaborate on the idea that being Pro-Bike “is merely a position that advocates an inclusive infrastructure and the as[s]ertion of a narrow range of civil liberties”? I lost you after assertion.

A P P E N D I X
________________________________
causist
caus·ist [kaw-zist] –noun
a person who supports or defends a cause, esp. a social cause.

fat·u·ous /ˈfætʃuəs/
[fach-oo-uhs] –adjective
1. foolish or inane, esp. in an unconscious, complacent manner; silly.
2. unreal; illusory.

Freeganism is a lifestyle based around the belief that almost all work and monetary exchanges within a capitalist economy contribute to myriad forms of exploitation – worker abuse, animal exploitation, hunger, ecological destruction, mass incarceration, war, inequitable distribution of resources, commodification of women – almost all issues addressed by social, ecological, and animal rights advocacy groups.

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“Is there any sort of legal financial assistance in Oregon for cyclists who have had encounters (close or direct) with motorists who have broken the law?”

Not literally. There is assistance for low-income Oregonians through the Lawyers Fund for Equal Justice. Otherwise, one would have to get an attorney to work on a congingency fee basis; a distinct possibility.

“Should there be?”

I think there should be. I have thought about talking to BTA about this. I would like to have more dialogue about this. Perhaps Jonathan could explore this more.

ian
Guest
ian

For the Republicans.
I think what you are missing from John Boyds post is this.
You may be a Pro cycling, but your party is not. Obviously it cannot work to generalize or classify people as thinking one way, but by voting for your party you are voting for thier views, not yours.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

To expand on Ian’s comment, a classic example came at last year’s National Bike Summit in Washington DC.

Some big-name advocates were giddy at spending 15 minutes with George Bush in the Oval Office to talk bikes.

Bush loves to say he rides a mountain bike and so therefore he is “pro cycling”. … however we all know that just because Bush rides a bike occasionally it does not mean he is willing to make political decisions that help get more people on bikes…and/or that are truly pro-cycling.

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

No, really, give an example of Republican Christian Nationalist politics from the last 6 years that is in sync with the purpose of this blog. Just one. Please. Don’t stop looking until you find one.

As an example, how many Republican cyclists were arrested at the 2004 Democratic Convention? Zero. How many Democrats at the Republican? 1,000 or so.

My argument and evidence is indeed stereotypical and prejudicial. That your person doesn’t fit with these generalities hardly makes them less general. You should feel either very special indeed other otherwise out of step.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

Scott (#34), I am a bicycle commuter, and I hold no allegiance to either party. Both parties are screwed up enough that I cannot support either. My main objection to Mr. Boyd’s post is the assumption that he knows anything about my politics just because I ride to work.

You asked about inclusive infrastructure: A concept similar to the often-maligned ADA. Every road or route should have reasonable accommodations for bicycles. (This should extend to public transport and pedestrians but that is part of a larger topic.) To my mind spending for this should be at least equal to the mode share in the region.

And you asked about civil liberties that apply to bicycle advocacy; these include the use of public spaces (roads) in reasonable safety and free from harassment. The laws that govern these spaces should fair to all users and applied equitably.

I think that is a good working definition of bicycle advocacy. To attach a bunch of other concepts to it and call it bicycle advocacy is not correct and may ultimately damage the cause by excluding valuable supporters.

I recognize that this is Jonathon’s site if he wants to align the blog with the Democratic Party, or the anti-car movement, or new urbanism, or whatever, it is fine with me. I do think he should think about the people that he might be excluding with each expansion in the breadth of the definition of bicycle advocacy. It is really not fair to those pushing for the more limited definition of the cause.

Adams Carroll (News Intern)
Guest

Coyote,

I’m not sure I understand your thoughts exactly, but I just want to clarify that I do not “align the blog” with any over-arching belief or political value system.

My goal is to present information and include as many people as possible in the discussion.

That is not to say that I am 100% objective at all times.

I have certain passions and values and they definitely spill into my work at times.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Jason Atkinson seems pretty pro-bike for an alleged Republican Christian Nationalist.

I am amazed to see that the bike community in Portland is so willing to feed the trolls. Thanks to some of the wildly irrational labels thrown around on this thread, the “evil” forces of conservatism now have enough quips for their bloggers and Lars Larson to use as evidence that we cyclists are hateful and crazy moonbats. Nice work!

Attornatus_Oregonensis
Guest
Attornatus_Oregonensis

“Thanks to some of the wildly irrational labels thrown around on this thread, the ‘evil’ forces of conservatism now have enough quips for their bloggers and Lars Larson to use as evidence that we cyclists are hateful and crazy moonbats.”

So, you don’t think that those people would attempt to so characterize cycling activists regardless of what we say? That was the kind of rhetoric that was being flung around on the NW Republican blog before we said anything here. Indeed, that was the point of Jonathan’s post, IMO.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous

I’ve learned not to debate people such as right-wing bloggers on their terms. Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, there are some really long-winded posts here and I haven’t read them all, but it seems to work best to post for the audience instead. Also more fun. LIke this:

RIGHT-WING BLOGGER: “Global Warming is a Left-Wing conspiracy to control all our lives and make us live in mud huts with no electricity!” (or whatever Global Warming is supposed to be besides a dangerous phenomenon caused by humans’ pollution)

SINCERE PERSON: “Oh? That’s very interesting, which scientists are disputing that human activity is changing the climate?”

RIGHT-WING BLOGGER: (either doesn’t mention any scientists by name or does list some who all likely have ties to polluting industries)

SINCERE PERSON: either replies “So, you can’t think of any scientists by name who dispute GW?” or lists the financial ties of the listed “scientists”

SINCERE PERSON: “I just learned that Tokyo has had its first snow-free winter in recorded history.” (or any of a thousand other anecdotes

Brad
Guest
Brad

You have a good point regarding the viewpoint expressed on their blog. I imagine the blogger is a hardliner pandering to other hardliners. Listen to talk radio much? It’s just preaching to the believers and validating their beliefs. Both wings are guilty and probably only represent the 20% of ideologues in their respective parties.

Where I have issue is with the tone of the rhetoric here. There is no problem with something like, “Republicans don’t seem to like spending money on bike infrastructure. They would rather keep the auto crowd happy and don’t give much thought to alternative transportation.”

Contrast that with a statement such as, “What did you expect from a bunch of bloodthirsty, power mad religious zealots who want to outlaw abortion, start wars under false pretexts, and hate minorities?!”.

Now, which statement might cause a moderate GOP legislator to seek information or consider some money for bikes in the budget? Which statement would most assuredly cause a kneejerk anti-bicycle reaction? IMHO, we hurt our cause by throwing down the same flaming rhetoric we hate hearing from the other side. How does the old addage go, you can attract more flies with honey than with manure? Statements like John Boyd’s make it difficult for Republicans like Jason Atkinson to convince his peers that bike lanes, cyclist protections, and velodromes are good things for Oregon.

We should be clearly better and more thoughtful than our adversaries.

For John Boyd – I am a conservative and my politics are based on the notions of fiscal responsibility, small government, libertarian ideals of personal freedom, and maintaining the best traditions and values of our society. I am vehemently opposed to imperialism, theocracy, bigotry and the erosion of freedoms thus, I feel my party has been perverted by its present leadership. There are more than a few of us – sorry that we don’t all conform to your simplistic and childish world view.

Coyote
Guest
Coyote

Jonathon,

Perhaps “align the blog” (#39, #40) was more of a loaded phrase than I intended. I do admire your work here, and the point I am trying to make maybe too fine for this forum.

Shifting the dialog about bicycle advocacy away from any partisan politics, would be an excellent way to begin to dispel misconceptions about bicyclists.

A thought experiment for us all: Would it bum you out if GW really was a died in the wool bicycle advocate? Gore? Cheney? Hillary? Rumsfeld?

Drive less be a hero!

Garlynn
Guest

John Boyd #38

“No, really, give an example of Republican Christian Nationalist politics from the last 6 years that is in sync with the purpose of this blog. Just one. Please. Don’t stop looking until you find one.”

Well, now that you’ve QUALIFIED it from just Republican, no, I can’t think of anybody. I doubt that Jason Atkinson or other moderate Republicans could also be considered subscribers to the Christian Nationalist movement. I could be wrong, but…

As for Coyote, #45:

“A thought experiment for us all: Would it bum you out if GW really was a died in the wool bicycle advocate? Gore? Cheney? Hillary? Rumsfeld?”

Well, if Bush being “died in the wool” meant lots of money pouring in from the feds for bicycle infrastructure, while funding for new freeway expansion projects (as opposed to bottleneck fixes, safety projects, HOV lanes & auxiliary lanes) dried up — no, I wouldn’t be bummed out. I’d be surprised, yes. Astounded, even. Dumbfounded, quite readily. But bummed out? No, I think I’d celebrate, if that meant that we’d get better infrastructure for riding.

As for Cheney… hah. That’d be funny. Rummy? Inconsequential. Gore? I believe he actually is. He rode his bike to the Academy Awards and changed in the lobby bathrooms, according to one account. Hillary — Hillary Clinton, I would have a lot more respect for if she were to grow a backbone and stand up for a cause like bicycling.

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

I’ve learned not to debate people such as right-wing bloggers on their terms.

Thank you Anonymous.

Jo Routens
Guest
Jo Routens

Funny how transportation choices have a political tint–and funniest how people who consider themselves “conservative” and “patriotic” generally prefer and seem to have a bias towards the means of transportation which gives direct financial sustenance to our country’s worst enemies. It must take either no brain or no sense of shame to put a US flag on a big pickup truck or SUV! You’d think that the patriotic types would be the first ones to believe in cycling, walking, and mass transit.

Brad
Guest
Brad

Come on Jo. I can stroll two blocks from my place of work right now and see a Chevy Suburban with “Buck Fush!” and “No One Died When Clinton Lied” stickers festooning their 6000 lb. / 10 MPG rig. How about the multitude of Volvo, Lexus, and BMW SUVs cruising around our trendiest neighborhoods with “Impeach Bush!” and “Obama for America” plastered on them?

Rather than shallow stereotyping, why can’t we all agree that both conservatives and progressives are BOTH guilty of feeding our enemies via wasteful auto and gasoline usage? I agree with your notion that using alternative transportation is patriotic and we should be preaching that to all regardless of political affiliation.

John Boyd
Guest
John Boyd

Who knew there is BI-PARTISAN CONGRESSIONAL BIKE CAUCUS:
http://blumenauer.house.gov/Issues/CaucusSummary.aspx?NewsID=995
Not to generalize, but from the memberships stats, there are 262% more Democratic House members who are pro-bike enough to join that caucus than there are Republicans.