Why “cyclists” make the worst advocates

August 8, 2014 § 24 Comments

Have you ever noticed that for the most part, good bicycling advocates are hardly ever “cyclists”? By “cyclist” I mean:

  • Wannabe racer
  • Racer
  • Anyone who owns more than $5k worth of bike

The people who show up at town hall meetings, city council meetings, and transportation committee meetings are almost always slow, hairy-legged, wall-eyed bicycle riders who stumble up to the lectern with one pant leg still rolled up.

They are so uncool.

The cool people “ain’t got time for that.” They race. They train. They sprunt. They fall of their bicycles and file police reports. They send in entry fee reimbursement requests to their team boss, the timely receipt of which will determine whether they can pay the rent. But they sure as hell don’t drag ass downtown to make a 7:00 PM meeting so they can add their comments to Subsection 2-15(a) of the amendment of the municipal city plan that addresses bicycle infrastructure.

Nope. The people who take the time and make the effort are the one-leg-rolled-up wankers who get shelled on the first lap of the Tuesday Night World Championships. Worse, they’re often technical people, like engineers, who actually study traffic patterns, who have experience in roadway design, and (the real whackos) who spend their free time analyzing detailed planning reports.

And of course, it’s thanks to them that the rules get changed, that laws get passed, that the rights of bicyclists are addressed by our non-cycling elected officials.

It would be a cliché if it didn’t hurt so bad: The most numerous people who show up at public planning meetings are the rabid, SUV-driving, bike-hating crazies who shout the loudest, while the isolated bike advocate, smelling of a long commute, stares down the mindless cager mob with facts, statistics, and the bloody, penetrating lance of reason.

Fortunately, the Bike Plan Team in charge of the Regional Bicycle Master Plan for the Las Virgenes-Malibu regions has set up the equivalent of a cyclist roach motel in order to snare the wary and cunning “cyclists” into doing something positive for the greater riding community. The Bike Plan Team will be hanging out this coming Sunday at Malibu Country Mart from 8:30 AM to 12:00 noon. They’ll be there so that all of the “cyclists” rolling up and down PCH can engage in the equivalent of Internet activism. All you have to do when you roll through Malibu is stop for a minute and give your thoughts about making the Las Virgenes-Malibu region safer and more comfortable for bicycling.

When you stop by the Bike Plan tent to speak with team members you can complete a short bicycle survey and grab free bicycle-related swag. This approach recognizes that cyclists just want to ride, and generally don’t want to attend evening meetings (except for Brad House and David Kramer). It also lets you (yes, YOU) add your voice to a plan whose goal is to make the PCH corridor and region a more enjoyable and safer place to bike. Hint: Advocate for our and YOUR right to control the full right-hand lane on PCH.

Another thing you can do when you roll through is to tell them that you want — NOW — sharrow lane markings and “Bikes May Use Full Lane” signs on Pacific Coast Highway.

Of course, many “cyclists” are too busy to even do that because, Strava. There are KOM’s to chase, pace lines to keep up with, and training databases to populate with VAM’s, w/kg’s, and what you had for breakfast. But the Bike Plan Team is ready for you. You don’t even have to stop; you can fill out an online survey to help create a plan that reflects your needs, wishes, and dystopian fantasies, most of which likely involve Cher on a 400-mile gravel grinder somewhere east of Bakersfield. Take the survey by going to this page and clicking on the survey link. No matter how lazy you are, and if you’re a bike racer you’re plenty lazy, you can’t possibly be too lazy to do this.

I would absolutely be there in person for the event except, you know, I have to race on Sunday.



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§ 24 Responses to Why “cyclists” make the worst advocates

  • sibex9591 says:

    Hope they get some useful information. I have a friend who I think has been leading a 1 woman effort to affect transportation infrastructure long term planning in the Philadelphia area for years. Ex racer, engineer trained, dual citizenship (US and Britannia), post menopausal and determined. Hopefully she isn’t just a lone voice.

    • fsethd says:

      That’s cool. I filled out the online survey, and in the comments section added “Sharrows” and “BMUFL” signage.

  • darelldd says:

    Hey! I show up for those meetings! I study traffic patterns!
    And… uh…

    I could unroll that pant leg any time I want to, buddy!

    • fsethd says:

      Ha, ha! I’ve actually seen “cyclists” show up, just not nearly in proportion or consistency to the pant-leg-roller-uppers.

      At a San Pedro meeting I went to the lectern with leg rolled up and holding my helmet. Should have left it on!

      Good for you, attending. Laws are made by those who show up.

  • billdsd says:

    Got to show up.

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Survey taken. If I were rolling up PCH I would stop at the booth. Hope this will suffice

    • fsethd says:

      Thanks, Peter. If you could encourage your friends to take the survey and to add comments about adding sharrows and BMUFL signs, that would be awesome.

  • sarahrides says:

    Survey done. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Seth. Good luck on Sunday 🙂

  • channel_zero says:

    Instead of just talking, guests may want to ask questions.

    What are you guys working on now?
    What departments do you work with to make Malibu more bike friendly?
    How much of your time is spent on cycling issues?
    How can I help make Malibu more cycling friendly?

    My favorite, how can we slow down PCH from Santa Monica to Point Mugu?

    • fsethd says:

      I think they’ll be open to all that and more. And of course my favorite question:

      “Why aren’t there free sandwich stands for cyclists and beer-refill stations?”

  • kh says:

    Took the survey… Thx

  • alicestrong says:

    Just smiling at the “post-menopausal and determined” nomen…:)

  • Gary Cziko says:

    Here’s some info on sharrows and BIKES MAY USE FULL LANE signs and why we want them on PCH:

  • […] in the South Bay says cyclists make the worst advocates, which is why Malibu is planning to meet you more than half way Sunday […]

  • Ralph says:

    Riders you HAVE to get out and get people to the bike commissions, planning commissions, city/county councils. If you don’t your voice isn’t heard. I’ve spent 8 years on a BPAC and if we had more than ONE cyclist there for support or knowledge it was a red letter day. If you want good facilities you have to speak out for them.

  • ladyfleur says:

    Oh gosh. I’m neither a Strava-addicted roadie nor a rolled-pants-leg smelly bike commuter. I’m an everyday rider who rides up on her mixte to city council meetings, usually in a dress and heels since I’m coming straight from work.

    I appreciate your efforts to pull sport-oriented riders into advocacy. Really, I do. And after spending five days riding from Santa Barbara to San Diego, God knows you need the help. But can we please move beyond the stereotypes to see that there are people who ride that don’t fit neatly into these cyclist subcultures?

    • fsethd says:

      Yep — it’s a strange but true fact that ordinary people ride bikes, too. Nicely said.

      • ladyfleur says:

        I may be an everyday rider, but I’m far from ordinary. 🙂

        In many cities in California, I see a growing trend of people, especially mothers, who want bicycling facilities that they and their children can use to get to school and to shop and do errands around town. This excites me because it pushes leadership to see beyond the lycra and the inherent bias that cyclists are just “playing in the street.” We know that’s not the case, but it’s a lot harder for authorities to look a parent in the face and explain why they should have to get in a car to make a 1 mile trip to school.

        Once again, thanks for pushing your riding buddies into action. Numbers do matter. I find that live tweeting the idiotic things people say in city meetings gets my friends who are otherwise not engaged hooked into what’s going on, even if it’s only to express disbelief at the misinformation.

        • fsethd says:

          Agreed. Wouldn’t it be awesome to live in a state where bicycle riding didn’t connote a lifestyle or a subculture, where it was no different from walking or driving a car?

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