Former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn. Photo by David Ryder.
Bikelash is a clever term that describes the hand-wringing cries of, “War On Cars!” that’s followed the installation of every inch of bike infrastructure in the US. Even in the bikiest cities such as Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York, new bike lanes are met with fear and anger. And though bike politics may always be divisive to some degree, in Seattle it felt like bikelash reached its virulent fever pitch during former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s term in office.
The mayor himself was a bikelash lightening rod. He aligned closely with biking and walking advocates during his campaign and his term (his team even handed out “Mike Bikes” stickers and spoke cards during his first campaign). He fought against a multi-billion dollar project to build a highway under Seattle. And he implemented highly visible arterial “road diet” projects that prioritized biking and walking safety over speed by reducing the number of car lanes. In return, the media, political opponents, and the public dismissed him as anti-car, out of touch, the biking mayor, and, my favorite of the bunch, Mayor McSchwinn. I sat down with McGinn near his home in north Seattle to talk about his experience with bikelash, dealing with divisive bike politics as mayor, the role of mayors in transforming streets, how advocates can assist electeds in their job, and much more.
PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal. Photo courtesy PeopleForBikes
Bike advocacy is a sweeping term that captures a huge array of work. Fighting for better bike infrastructure on neighborhood streets, building new mountain bike trails, organizing charity rides, lobbying elected officials and many other things fit under that rather large umbrella of advocacy. Some might see that diversity of advocacy issues as a problem–that lots of sub-interests competing for limited funding and public attention will curb success for all. PeopleForBikes sees that variety as a boon to bicycling in America. The national advocacy organization helps fund everything from protected bike lanes to mountain bike parks; lobbies government agencies and elected officials; partners with professional cycling teams; provides grant funding; organizes their own charity ride; and much more. They’re guided by the basic principle that the more people ride, the better bicycling will be for everyone, regardless of what type of riding they do.
With over three decades of work in advocacy and bike racing, PeopleForBikes President Tim Blumenthal is a fitting leader. He got his start as a cycling journalist for publications such as VeloNews and Bicycling, worked with NBC on cycling coverage for seven Olympics, and spent 11 years at the helm of the International Mountain Bike Association before joining PeopleForBikes. I spoke to Blumenthal about PeopleForBikes’ work, his career in the cycling world, the value of combining cycling-as-sport and cycling-as-transportation in advocacy work, the strengths and shortcomings of American bike advocacy, and more.
Posted in Advocacy, Bike Industry, Interviews
Tagged american bike advocacy, bike advocacy, greelane project, IMBA, people for bikes, peopleforbikes, protected bike lanes, tim blumenthal, tim johnson
Some say David Byrne is the leader of the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby. Others say he’s just a pawn in their game.
Little is known about the All-Powerful Bicycle Lobby (APBL). In fact, until the Wall Street Journal’s Dorothy Rabinowitz made a video last Spring lamenting the APBL’s efforts to “begrime” New York City with Citi Bikes, few people (if any) knew that the group existed. Exactly who they are and the extent to which they influence the world’s affairs remains unclear. But, I had the rare opportunity to interview the APBL and help shed light on their dark conspiracy. In it we discuss their history, their slow and steady reshaping of the free world, their end game, and much more.
Photo via undergraduatestudies.ss.uci.edu
If you were asked right now to imagine a bike commuter, who would you picture? For most of you, it’s probably of a white man (who’s probably in bike shorts and a neon jacket) enroute to his middle or upper-middle class office job. It’s a reasonable image to have. A 2009 report found that 79 percent of trips by bike in the US were taken by white people and 73 percent of all those trips were done by men. But those same studies show that people of color accounted for about 21 percent of trips and 31 percent of trips were taken by people in the lowest quartile income bracket.
The sometimes-overlooked fact that biking is not just for well-to-do white guys is central to the work Adonia Lugo does as a bike advocate, activist, and anthropologist. She co-founded Los Angeles’ CicLAvia and Ciudad de Luces, an outreach project with day laborer bicyclists. After moving moved to Seattle in 2011 to complete her dissertation, she started the Seattle Bike Justice Project, an ethnographic project focused on bicycling and Seattle’s communities of color. We recently sat down to discuss her Bike Justice Project, equity in bicycling, the sometimes-narrow focus of American bike advocates, her own activism, and much more.
Photos via Ted’s blog.
Ted King’s cycling star is on the rise. The New England native was the top ranked domestic professional in the United States in 2008 when he was tapped to join Cervelo TestTeam and headed to Europe to race in the pro peloton. Now he’s racing for Liquigas Cannondale, competing in some of the biggest one-day and stage races in the world. I interviewed Ted by email as he wrapped up at the Tour of Utah. We discussed his start in cycling, the challenges of Europe, his environmental and bike advocacy, and more.