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Opinion: Parallels for bike advocacy and lessons from the ‘Occupy’ protests

Posted by on October 10th, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Occupy Portland March-6-5

Sign from Occupy Portland
march on October 6th.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Taking part in both Occupy Portland marches and watching support for the protestors grow both here and across the country, has been extremely inspiring for me. It has also got me thinking (of course) about the national bike movement.

Are there lessons to learn? Parallels worth thinking about?

One thing that has struck me is the genius of the slogan, “We, are, the 99 percent!” It’s hard to argue with something that represents such a huge number of people. If I was a politician who wanted to get re-elected, I’d definitely be paying attention.

The slogan also reminds me of a stat cited often by bike planners and advocates. They say there are “four types of transportation cyclists.” About 60 percent of people aren’t riding yet because they’re “interested (to ride) but concerned (about safety).” Add to them the 7 percent that are already riding, and about 1 percent that will ride no matter what the conditions. That’s 68 percent (not 99 percent, but a healthy majority!).

The goal of the bike movement is to get those 68 percent as riled up, energized, and engaged as the people I saw at the Occupy Portland marches.

Can you imagine the chants? “We, are, the 68 percent!”

While obviously not as rage-inducing as losing a job or a home due to the inability of our government to sensibly regulate financial markets, there are real reasons for the 68 percent to be angry that bicycling in America isn’t as safe and convenient as it should be.

Let’s, for the sake of discussion, compare the “top 1 percent” with the last century of auto-dominated urban planning and its ongoing primacy due to the politics around transportation funding.

Below is a chart (stolen from The Rachel Maddow Show) of the key statistic that is helping stoke the Occupy Wall Street movement…

Active transportation advocates have many compelling statistics of their own. Here’s one you might have read before…

In 1969, 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school.
In 2009, 13 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school.

And many of you are aware that bicycling dominated American life in the late 19th century, only to be all but eradicated by the onslaught of the automobile (which, ironically, took over the “good roads” bike lovers pushed for). The dominance of auto-centric development, policies, and roads are what have led to the situation where we currently have only 0.6 percent of our fellow citizens who use a bicycle as their primary means of getting to work.

Occupy Portland March-9

Outrageous right? The 64 percent should be marching in the streets! People deserve equal levels of safety whether they choose to drive a car or ride a bike!

So where is the outrage? Where are the marches? Sign me up!

Back in April of 2008, there was some brief excitement for a national, “One Million Bicycles” movement, but after its launch one month later, nothing came of it. There’s also the national People for Bikes campaign. That’s a valiant and ongoing effort; but so far it remains to be seen if a vast email list of people “for bikes” can lead to real grassroots action that can have a major impact on transportation policy and politics.

To make change in America that’s not supported by corporations or the existing power structure (both of which apply to bicycling), you need people in the streets. It’s as simple as that. Conferences, summits, meetings with politicians, and new laws will only get you so far.

Rally - We are all traffic-10.jpg

We protested in November
2007 and it worked.

We had a small taste of this in Portland after two people died while bicycling within two weeks of each other in October 2007. The community voice after those tragedies was loud and clear. After bombarding City Hall with emails and voicing demands for change online, we went into the streets and into City Hall to demand change. And we got it. Those actions resulted in renewed attention on bike safety measures from PBOT, better relations between the community and the Police Bureau, and more.

The bike movement in America needs more rallies and protest marches.

In an interview on the Rachel Maddow Show last week, author and activist Naomi Klein touched on this issue. She spoke about Occupy Wall Street’s role in the re-awakening the progressive left in America. Continue with my thought experiment (“the left” being the bike movement) and read her quote below…

“There really isn’t an organized left anymore… We’ve become used to NGO’s that are slick, media-trained, they’ve got their demands, they’ve got their messages… What they don’t have is a base. There’s no shortage of groups that have very specific demands about what should happen with Wall Street or what should happen with the tax system; but they don’t have power… Because a group working for income redistribution is never going to be funded by large corporations…

So we have to work… in another kind of currency and that currency is bodies and energy and passion and that’s what the left hasn’t had in trying to be so slick and in using the methods of corporations to communicate.”

I think Klein’s words and its parallels for bike advocacy are important. Do we have enough “currency” to make real change happen? Or are we sitting back and hoping that “slick” non-profits will do it for us?

And finally, Klein made another excellent point that I think is very applicable and important to people trying to push bicycling forward in America.

During a visit to Occupy Wall Street in New York City, Klein spoke with a Wall Street employee that was supportive of the protestors. The woman told Klein she works on immigrant rights issues in her spare time and that all she hears is, “there’s not enough money,” for this or for that.

Sound familiar?

How often have you heard from bike advocates and politicians that “we need more money” or that there’s “just not enough funding” for bike infrastructure? Like I’ve tried to share in the past, that’s a big lie. There is plenty of money, our policy makers are simply deciding to spend it like they always have — primarily for auto-centric projects that maintain the status quo and that don’t rock the boat.

Or, as Klein put it, “It is not a scarcity problem, it’s a distribution problem.”

If we continue to sit back and be satisfied with the incremental rate of change that many pro-bike politicians and advocates are happy with, transforming America into a truly bike-friendly nation is a long ways off. But, as we can see unfolding every day with the Occupy Wall Street movement, if we focus on building the grassroots energy and get people out into the streets, we’ll get there much quicker.

I leave you with a spoken word poem from Portland-based citizen activist, filmmaker, and musician Dan Kaufman. “Occupy Wall Street? Yes. AND Liberate Main Street!”

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts…

NOTE: Thanks for sharing and reading our comments. To ensure this is a welcoming and productive space, all comments are manually approved by staff. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for meanness, discrimination or harassment. Comments with expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia will be deleted and authors will be banned.

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BURR
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BURR

There already is a parallel in the bike ‘movement.’ Can you say Critical Mass?

Crushed for good by the Portland Police because the PPB just couldn’t tolerate any motor vehicle traffic delays caused by cyclists.

Thanks a lot, Vera Katz and Mark Kroeker.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

That’s a good point BURR… interesting.

I think there are some key differences between CM and Occupy Portland. The big one is the cooperation between Occupy and the PPB from the outset (I realize CM and cops worked together a lot, but that was after some nasty arrests/violence).

It’s also worth noting that CM wasn’t perceived as a populist movement at all. Even many people who cared about bicycling conditions didn’t agree with it. That hurt its ability to become supported by the public and by politicians. What is making Occupy successful is that nearly everyone – even many politicians – can identify with their grievances and therefore supports them.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

CM crushed itself. ‘Occupy’ has something fundamental to offer people in common, that they can relate to: a desire for a living protected by some defense against excesses of the nations economic structure.

CM didn’t offer something as easily related to by people in common. Being able to ride in the street on a bike is of far less concern to people in common than being able to make a living is.

Occupy-Portland had its march-demonstration-protest on the street, and now, it’s sitting off in a downtown park, mostly out of everyone’s way. CM was regularly clogging up the streets, disgusting almost everyone that had to drive or ride in a motor vehicle.

dude
Guest
dude

Its interesting to see protesters protesting big business, out in the rain drinking Starbucks, wearing Nikes, Taking public transportation…

BURR
Guest
BURR

sounds like you haven’t set foot anywhere near the camp, maybe you should educate yourself a bit before spouting nonsense.

velvetackbar
Guest
velvetackbar

Sorry, but that isn’t “nonsense.”

There have been a fair number of pictures of the marches with folks carrying SBucks and wearing Nike’s.

As to wether or not Dude’s concerns have any validity? ::shrug:: He is factually correct, tho. I have seen several and commented on them on the Twitterz.

velvetackbar
Guest
velvetackbar

I think I see where Dude is coming from: If the 99% is against corporate greed, why would they fulfil that very greed? The problem isn’t Nike, or even Sbucks (although I don’t mind telling you that those companies aren’t worth the money for their goods–a seperate issue entirely.) The problem isn’t that a corporation exists, its that the deck is stacked so that the corporations are the ONLY winners possible.

Dude: you don’t have toe a line to be one of the 99%’s. Unless YOU make enough to put yourself in the 1% (and I sincerely doubt that you would be bothering with Bike Portland in that case,) then you *are* one of us. Plain and simple. You can wear Timberland boots, Nikes, or Ho Chi Mihn sandals. No one really cares. you can drink your SBucks if you want — its your tastebuds that are paying for that mistake.

There *is* no one inspecting you for “proper attire” or “revolutionary zeal.”

Me? I wear Wesco’s–made in Scappoose. Comfy, and they last a LONG time.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…The problem isn’t that a corporation exists, its that the deck is stacked so that the corporations are the ONLY winners possible. …” velvettackbar

The “…ONLY winners…” ? Now how can that possibly be true? CEO’s get paid obscene amounts of money in a world where many people are desperately poor. This is true. The U.S. governnment…actually people of this county…bail out the big corporations when those corporations are in danger of going bottoms up. True also.

But those are concessions made to excess in order to support a structure U.S. citizens rely on to sustain a viable economy they need to survive. If there are viable alternatives to this relationship, the ‘Occupy’ phenomena certainly hasn’t yet disclosed what they are, assuming it has some of idea of what those alternatives could be.

“…Me? I wear Wesco’s–made in Scappoose. Comfy, and they last a LONG time. …” velvetackbar

Nice boots. Expensive, which is one solid reason people go instead for big corporation produced boots.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin

I’m not a corporate CEO, but please don’t include me in the 99% of sheeple that don’t understand how the economy works. Thanks.

PedInPDX
Guest

Agreed. I was present for the marches and have gone back to volunteer, and the point is not that all corporations are bad or that we should boycott all of them. It’s about some corporations being bad citizens, coming together as a country and having an adult discussion about why that’s a problem and what can be done.

I think it’s reasonable to hold that people should reduce corporate consumption as much as is practical, particularly when it comes to irresponsible companies. There are degrees of conformity with this view. Generally speaking I don’t actively buy from corporations, but nobody’s perfect and I slip up, or inherit something used, or have to compromise. To criticize protesters for engaging in the basically unavoidable culture of corporate consumption is to hold them to a higher standard than they, the protesters, hold.

Maybe there are signs that can be made to capture this:

For someone w/ Starbucks: “I wanted to buy non-corporate but there are 3 Starbucks on my street.”

For someone wearing Nikes: “I wanted to buy non-corporate but I can’t afford comfortable shoes made for a fair wage.”

Personally, these protests have been an extremely refreshing experience for me, as truly democratic, peaceful and “big tent” as they have been. I agree with Jonathan about a lot of cross-advocacy and inspirational potential being present, and as an advocate for pedestrians I took special pleasure in taking Portland’s streets for those on foot. =) In fact, there has been conversation about channeling Occupy Portland’s energy toward a local, big picture advocacy project: opposition to the CRC. A meeting is set to take place Tuesday morning at the occupation site on exactly that topic.

If 10,000 Portlanders take to the streets to oppose the CRC, politicians might start listening.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“For someone w/ Starbucks: ‘I wanted to buy non-corporate but there are 3 Starbucks on my street.'”

“For someone wearing Nikes: ‘I wanted to buy non-corporate but I can’t afford comfortable shoes made for a fair wage.'”

While I agree with those who have noted that this isn’t about corporate logos at all, I think we should also not fall prey to all these middle class cliches about how hard it is to consume responsibly, that our strategy should be to implore corporations or other leaders to give us products we can feel good about.
Resolable shoes made in the US don’t necessarily cost more. But we have to look for them; alert our friends to the possibilities of finding them; shame those buying crap from China (most shoes sold here) into repairing their domestically made shoes right here.
Waiting for captains of industry to hear our pleas is so not empowering.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

dude,

I think you’re making a common error of judgment in what’s going on out there. We’re not protesting big business or capitalism or corporations… We’re protesting the fact that they’ve run amok in America and they have way too much influence and control over our elected government.

It’s about balance and things are currently way out of balance.

Also, keep in mind that you are likely to see a very wide range of opinions about the issues out at the camp site and on the marches… that’s just the nature of grassroots and leaderless democracy… it’s a big tent and everyone is welcome to express themselves.

Dude
Guest
Dude

Jonathan
If your unhappy with the govt. roll in this, then why don’t you protest in front of city hall? or the white house? A few years ago all of this would have been directed at George Bush, Now with a democrat govt. it is all directed away from the democrat leaders and focused on the ones that are trying to get our country working again. It’s really a pitiful series of events.

k.
Guest
k.

Dude, you’ve missed the point obviously. And by the way, the protesters are almost in front of City Hall (kitty corner). The whole Occupy movement is protesting to the government….and government/industrial complex in the sense that industry has an outsized influence on our government. And who exactly is it they’re protesting that is trying to get our country working again?

SilkySlim
Guest
SilkySlim

At least those two are local businesses…

But really, to deride a movement based on footwear choice? Boycotting is one way to send a message, but supporting a brand and influencing them to change may be a more powerful one.

Noelle
Guest
Noelle

Right, then. They should show up naked? I’m pretty sure the deathgrip large corps have on, well, everything, is part of the grievance. Can’t buy handwoven wool dufs in starvation wages, either.

Next lame argument?

Noelle
Guest
Noelle

And by “dufs” I mean duds.

9watts
Guest
9watts

About those 33% who are in the ‘no way no how’ camp – I wonder if it is instructive to think about the Cubans, who as I understand it also included a sizable ‘bikes? for us? you kidding? We don’t bike here!’ contingent. That contingent (and attitude) got a reality check in 1991 when the Soviets (or what had been the Soviets) stopped sending oil.
I think we should keep in mind that the distribution you show up at the top is a function of a century of cheap oil and the not very imaginative public lulled into thinking that cars are ‘how we get around in the US.’ (Middle class) people get away with thinking/saying ‘no way no how’ to a survey taker, because their peers share those attitudes and no one (they trust) is telling them that the 21st Century is going to be different-very different.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

“In 1969, 48 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school.
In 2009, 13 percent of children 5 to 14 years of age walked or bicycled to school.”

I will put this more on the media more than I would the automobile. I think parents just see too much stuff about abductions or stranger danger that they think the have to drive the kids to school. Parents just have this big fear or something happening to their kids that is far too often way out of porportion of what the real danger actually is.

I also wonder if it has to do with people having fewer kids. A lot of schools have shut its doors due to lack of attendance in Portland and when you shut down the neighborhood school, suddenly the kids have a much longer walk or a potentially dangerous bike route to get to school.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Mindful Cyclist,

I used that just as a comparison. Whatever the reason you think has caused the shift… it exists. Cars, the media, car companies, whatever… The point is that bikes as a viable transportation mode is still on the edges of much of American society.

9watts
Guest
9watts

The fact that many many parents now drive their kids to school in the US/Oregon/Portland who did not a generation or two ago is I think undisputed.
The reasons are surely many, but where I live (inner SE) it is not as simple as increased distance to school. Plenty of parents who live 5-10 blocks away drop their kids off in a (4-wheel drive) automobile at my daughter’s school. I suspect if we’re looking for causes that this has more to do with two parents working somewhere other than at home, and the propensity to ‘trip-chain’ (what a dreadful word that is), rather than to give up the damn car.

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

At the same time, 1969 was when we were really starting to see the proliferation of suburbs. Gone were the smaller lots on a grid and in came the cul-de-sacs that spill on to a busy street on to an even busier street. All one has to do is travel to the next city West of Portland and see how Beaverton is.

Inner SE is just one part of the U.S. I can understand your sentiment about driving your kid to school in inner East Portland. But, that is not how the rest of the US is. Getting outside of downtown in SW Portland is basically served by several busier arterial streets.

9watts
Guest
9watts

agreed all around. The number of school districts in Oregon has gone from 2,556 in 1917 to a mere 198 in 2000.

PedInPDX
Guest

“I think parents just see too much stuff about abductions or stranger danger that they think the have to drive the kids to school.”

Feedback cycle? The fewer people walk/bike, the less safe streets are, the more people drive, the fewer people walk/bike…

Mindful Cyclist
Guest
Mindful Cyclist

Not going to disagree with you. But, what I think the prevailing attitude amongst the American populace is that one is safer in a car. What needs to be done is change that perception. How do we do that? I am not really sure, but somehow we have to.

Barbara
Guest
Barbara

Statistics say that 50% of accidents that happen to kids in front of school are caused by other parents. Nobody seems to be aware of this statistic, or maybe people just don’t understand statistics.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

Jonathan. Thanks. I saw you at the protest Sunday. It’s depressing that we hear the “not enough” money excuse for schools and bike projects. Where is all that money being spent? Freeways and military.

The cement companies and unions have Salem keeping silent on the CRC freeway. We’ve got to force lawmakers to ban lobbyists and debate issues in public.

middle of the road guy
Guest
middle of the road guy

Joe, I ask you this:

will the bikes or schools people ever say “we have enough money”?

are
Guest

in a (somewhat more) just society, it is easy to imagine that people could feel that spending on education and human-scaled transportation was being done at appropriate levels. this cannot happen while we are paying off bankers for ruining the economy and while we are paying mercenaries to kill afghans.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

You mean like mil/ind complex says they have enough?

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…And many of you are aware that bicycling dominated American life in the late 19th century, only to be all but eradicated by the onslaught of the automobile (which, ironically, took over the “good roads” bike lovers pushed for). …” maus/bikeportland

To the extent bikes back then were the dominant transportation mode, it was because motor vehicles weren’t readily and easily accessible. At least initially, the American public pushed aside the bike as a means of common travel, in favor of motor vehicles.

That early preference allowed motor vehicle dominated infrastructure to be expanded and eventually replace road and street types that favored travel by walking and biking.

Today’s roads, streets and much of community planning effectively precludes people’s use of bicycles as a practical common mode of transportation. Even so, if communities were more consistently planned to be more easily and pleasantly traveled on foot and bike, would people commonly travel by those means as long as the option of the motor vehicle was there? I’m not very convinced they would, despite the Netherlands example. Cars are too comfortable, convenient and accessible.

I never the less, think people should request or insist that larger and particularly key areas of their communities be planned and built to support travel by walking and biking over travel by motor vehicle. In so many parts of so many cities today, people don’t really even have an appealing, safe option for walking or biking their streets and highways, even if they had a mind to do so.

A movement by community residents towards improvements in local walking and biking supportive infrastructure seems much more obtainable than reducing corporate hegemony effecting the American economy.

davemess
Guest
davemess

I think the parallels are not all the close. The current protests are not really united under one idea or purpose. It’s lots of different interest groups coming together to kind of put forth a jumbled, not completely understood message.

Any bicycling protest has one relatively defined goal/message.

I just don’t see them as being that simliar, and a comparison being that helpful.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“Any bicycling protest has one relatively defined goal/message.”

It does?
And it is?

Gregg Woodlawn
Guest

Jumbled? Not understood?
Like BURR said: go down to the camp and check it out.
Or check this one minute video: Alan Grayson on Occupy Wall Street

Rian Murnen
Guest
Rian Murnen

Hi Jonathan,

I recommend against replacing the “left” in Klein’s quote; bicycling fits in as a “group” with a specific interest. She said, “There’s no shortage of groups that have very specific demands…”

Perhaps you’ve heard the Henry David Thoreau quote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, to one who is striking at the root.”

In order to address the completely reasonable goal of allocating existing infrastructure funds to bicycles, or safety, the root obstacle must be addressed. Naomi Klein is pointing out that no matter what your goal, Congress in its current state will not address it.

Whether your issue is economic, environment, food labeling, transportation safety, taxation, health care, Wall Street, etc., nothing can be achieved with out first addressing the root.

What is the root? The root is “dependence corruption”. Not bribery, quid pro quo, but an improper dependence on money that distorts the system. Congress is supposed to be dependent “on the people **alone**.” When dependent on “the people alone” Congress will be responsive to “the people alone.” But Congress has become addicted to campaign funds. Addicted through the bizarre gift exchange of fundraising and lobbyists, Congress has become dependent on “The Funders” rather than “The People”.

Individual Congress members spends huge amounts (30-70%) of their time raising campaign funds. They have been bent by this system of fundraising to were they favor policy that helps them raise funds. And when a lobbyist comes and says I would love to hold a fundraiser for you, oh and p.s., this issue is important to my funders, Congress bends to the money.

And even if they have so much integrity that they are not bent by the money, the existence of the money in the wrong place (issuing from The Funders) makes “The People” cynical. Our trust erodes, we stop voting, paying attention, contributing. And so the cycle worsens and “The Funders” gain more power.

This degenerating cycle that bends Congress and policy has been running for a several decades at least. No matter what your issue (transportation, education, taxation, size of government etc.), Right or Left, it cannot be fixed until the root problem is resolved.

I choose not to own a car and love my bicycle, mass transit and occasionally ZipCar. I care about many issues in our country, issues were the incumbent ( generally corporations) have bent the system. I want many a reform. But I firmly believe that until we address the root, no other issue will be resolved.

Not convinced but curious for some evidence. Read “Republic, Lost” by Lessig or take a more casual look at http://rootstrikers.org/.

If we strike the root, we will finally remove the obstacle to pursuing change.

JAT in Seattle
Guest
JAT in Seattle

Oh, jeez – that was well put. Well done!

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

Thanks Rian.

Couldn’t agree more. One of the things I love most about the Occupy movement is how it’s getting me more educated about activism and about the issues in general. Your comment is part of that. Thanks.

Rian Murnen
Guest
Rian Murnen

Totally aside, Occupy Portland is looking for help building bicycle-based electricity generation for camp. If you know the engineering details or have the right equipment, please pitch!

Joe
Guest
Joe

It was awesome walking together down 6th with a smile.

Steve B
Guest

Great analysis, Jonathan! I couldn’t agree more with Naomi Klein’s analysis of the left and the role NGO’s play. We need to organize outside of our traditional structures in order to achieve true success.

Joe Rowe
Guest
Joe Rowe

yes, I think Naomi would say that people on the left are not united due to seeking perfection. Our own politics lead to our division. The right wing knows this and uses the method of divide and conquer.

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

One of the classic rightwing talking points during this whole thing is that the protesters’ message is confused. Not true.

Here’s as cogent a statement of what Occupy Wall Street is about as I’ve heard:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhrwmJcsfT0&feature=player_embedded

Michael Mann
Guest

I agree that the OW movement isn’t so much anti-corporation (though there will always be that element in ANY street protest) as it is a desire to see a shift back to “of the people, by the people, for the people.” As a public school teacher with 22 years experience in the local community, I have a horse in this race. I took a cut last year, and am being asked to again this year, because our state can’t adequately fund education. We can argue all we want about what “adequate” means, but I can tell you from first hand experience it means less than it did 20 years ago. The tanking of the economy is the main culprit, and most now agree THAT could have been prevented – or at least minimized – if government and corporate leaders hadn’t been in bed together. What we want is to break up that coziness, and hold accountable those who made incomprehensibly expensive and greedy decisions for which every American is now on the hook. A direct line can be drawn between our generous bank bailouts and the fact we can no longer “afford” to fund a full school year for many of Oregon’s K-12 students. There’s a reason the money is not there.

velvetackbar
Guest
velvetackbar

wsbob

But those are concessions made to excess in order to support a structure U.S. citizens rely on to sustain a viable economy they need to survive. If there are viable alternatives to this relationship, the ‘Occupy’ phenomena certainly hasn’t yet disclosed what they are, assuming it has some of idea of what those alternatives could be.

Except that it isn’t working as a “viable economy” for an ASTONISHING number of people. Please see the wearethe99percent.tumblr.com website and read some stories of those for whom the economy is either not viable, or is failing utterly.

Nice boots. Expensive, which is one solid reason people go instead for big corporation produced boots.

I think I am going to stay out of the politics of particular companies, and simply make a comment re: Wesco. I bought my boots 10 years ago when i recieved a windfall of 150$. I paid $120 for them back then as factory seconds. This comes to $12 a year for reliable footwear. I was going through 2 pairs of Nikes or Adidas a year back then. I was paying around $60 a pair for shoes and my feet were *molding.* Literally. My feet seem to not like being kept in tight environments. I still buy a pair of Chucks ever few years, but generally, I wear my Wescos (I have two pairs) or my loafers I bought at a second hand store.

velvetackbar
Guest
velvetackbar

Kevin
I’m not a corporate CEO, but please don’t include me in the 99% of sheeple that don’t understand how the economy works. Thanks.

Believe it or not, you are free to not participate. Enjoy!

Rol
Guest

The tendency of capitalism to concentrate wealth has been well-known from the getgo. Arguably that wealth concentration is one of the central goals of the system. Hence what’s being protested is, ironically enough, the “success” of capitalism, which as predicted, has been a disaster for the socioeconomic fabric. Left unfettered, it destroys society. The only way to stop it is to place checks on it. Those who stand to profit from it purchase political power and remove the checks. Those more numerous who are exploited by it periodically restore the checks. It’s an old game.

The parallel Jonathan is hinting at is, I think, even more explicit: The success of the automobile IS the success of capitalism. Cars are a capitalist’s wet dream. They’re seductive and expensive. They concentrate wealth like nobody’s business, extracting hundreds of dollars per month from a large number of people to enrich a few. And thanks to decades of hard work in the propaganda factory, they’re the most socially acceptable way to get around, and they’re a status symbol. And they’re addictive. Not only because using them makes it difficult psychologically and/or physically to use something else, but addictive in the Nietzchean sense, of promising to be the solution to the very condition it exacerbates — in this case impoverishing people who are trying to look wealthy, making sedentary those trying to be more mobile, and exposing to risk (greater than the risks of cycling I assure you) those who think it’s the “safe” way to go.

So yes, there ought to be a movement. But not everyone is at the same place on the ideological scale, as aware of other ideas out there, or as committed to the ones they know about. They need to be educated. You got to let ’em know what TIIIME it is.

Hugh Johnson
Guest
Hugh Johnson

Wow, you seem to be implicating everyone driving a car is wealthy. There are a lot of poor folks out there rolling around in what are hardly status symbols. And unfortunately a lot of them without insurance, or a valid license and registration. I think this whole thing trying to align bike advocacy with Wall Street protests is absurd, but hey it’s not my forum. I love the informative side Bike Portland, but when it starts becoming a bitter, political site well then I might as well just visit the KATU forums.

Rol
Guest

Please do, Mr. Complainypants! How did you get through this clearly and non-deceptively titled article, and 60-some-odd comments about it, including my long-winded one, before realizing this?

Rol
Guest

Oh right, by not reading thoroughly. If you’d read my whole comment you might’ve seen the part about impoverishing people and extracting wealth from them. I’m no math whiz (actually I am), but taking wealth away from people doesn’t usually result in making them rich. So no, I’m not “implicating” that.

Dude
Guest
Dude

Perhaps if they want to draw attn. to themselves they might want to orgaganize a naked bike ride, or march.

Velvetackbar
Guest
Velvetackbar

I think they are doing just fine. They have YOUR attention, after all 🙂

Sean
Guest
Sean

I was not aware an event such as CM existed. Thanks for the post. I just signed up and will be there this month!

spare_wheel
Guest
spare_wheel

the irony of an advertising-supported blogger who ruthlessly censors comments supporting OWS is delicious.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Guest

spare_wheel,

Care to share any more about your allegation that I “ruthlessly censor comments” and how that it might be related to my advertisers?

I’m 100% transparent w/ what I do and why I do it, and I don’t appreciate allegations like yours that attempt to undermine my credibility.

And yes, I do censor comments. Always have and always will.

Thanks.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“…And yes, I do censor comments. …” maus/bikeportland

But not ‘ruthlessly’ so, which is fine.

Comment moderation over at O-online seems to be improving also. Either that or the people commenting have improved their style. There’ve been some good back and forth comments of substance in response to the Occupy stories posted there. Some of the usual jabs and low-brow jokes too, but even that has not been allowed to be offensive like it seemed to have been a year or so ago.

Steve Brown
Guest

Jonathan, Liked your thoughts. A few years back when we were in Salem with Scott Bricker, I really saw the need to organize and take advantage of the quality of life issues that can build around cycling. Might be time to think about that again. Thanks for reminding me.

Steve Brown

steve scarich
Guest
steve scarich

I don’t mean to be picky (OK, I do), but that pie chart is meaningless.

John Mulvey
Guest
John Mulvey

Agreed. Since the “1%” is constant, they should leave the light blue slice out. It just confuses it.

Otto
Guest
Otto

Late to the thread…

People should be less concerned with Big Gov or Big Corp and more concerned with institutions of centralized power seeking to impose the status quo on the future.

As for criticizing the people assembling for wearing sneakers or Tweeting, remember that the Arab Spring demonstrators used social media to organize revolutions. Were they all barefoot?

The attempt to dismiss people with legitimate grievances simply because they have some useful consumer products (from companies that didn’t create the banking system and really have no governance over a seriously flawed national monetary policy that is being protested) is something tyrants and their apologists do, “But you’re fed and clothed! Look at that gadget of yours! How dare you criticize the order that planned this for you!”