Second Update : How Committed Are ChainLink Forum Members?

Summary

Perhaps the ChainLink Forum should adopt as their mascot the little fellow to the right?

Pig Riding Bicycle - Rough Sketch. by © George Coghill Pro Feb 23, 2011dribbble.com

Pig Riding Bicycle – Rough Sketch. by © George Coghill Pro Feb 23, 2011
dribbble.com

ChainLink Forum as you probably know has a funding drive on to update their software to provide better service to its membership. The numbers often cited for that community are around 8,500 members.

They hoped to raise $15,000 for the improvement which would mean that each person would have to donate around $2 a head. But at present (7 days left in the drive) only about 300 members have donated.

My math says that the donating members represent 3.53% of that total membership. That would be like inviting 100 people to your home for a potluck dinner and only 3-4 bring anything to pass around.

My guess is that the 96 other folks who arrived would be sitting down with their napkins tucked and grabbing every biscuit and entry in sight. Beyond the first three or four people at the table the rest would go hungry and that number would probably include the folks who bothered to contribute in the first instance.

Are ChainLinkers that stingy? Are they really the kind of people who crow about the new Dearborn Street bike lane and thump their breasts at the fact that $450,000 was spent on it without paying much heed to the fact that people of color and seniors all over the city are suddenly experiencing price increases associated with their mass transit fares? I am beginning to think so.

Lots of folks who crow about being committed urban cyclists and dismissive of suburban riders who are not experienced with the “brutal traffic” they ride in each day (according to them at least). And yet out of nearly 8,500 people only 300 could see their way to ponying up $2?

Can you say “freeloaders“? No wonder this crowd goes ballistic when John Kass suggests that there might be some charges for licensing or registration or even toll fees for usage of those nice green bikes lanes. Guess that having to pay anything for using what will soon become the premier bike infrastructure in the country is too painful for them to contemplate.

The poor, poor things. I almost feel a tear welling up in my eye. Sorry gotta run and get a Kleenex before I lose my emotional control.

Congratulations! Are In Order

Since the last time I wrote about the ChainLink Fundraiser some additional givers have risen to the task. It appears that there are several who have in fact given more than once. This is a good thing!

But I noticed a few things that concern me. First is the opening page on the ChainLink Forum itself that leads you over to the Indiegogo site where you can actually give money. That page reads as follows:

ChainLink Fundraiser Snapshot

ChainLink Fundraiser Snapshot

“Since we launched Tune-Up The Chainlink!, more than 300 cyclists have contributed over $15,000 to enhance the Chicagoland biking experience.”

But when you get to the actual fundraiser site you read that there are at least 100 fewer funders (their term):

Indiegogo - Fundraiser Screen Snapshot

There are five (5) tabs across the top of the central section. The read as follows:

  • Campaign Home
  • Updates / 5
  • Comments / 49
  • Funders / 197
  • Gallery / 5

Clearly the software thinks that there were 197 separate contributors. That makes my earlier math even more compelling in that fewer contributors means that a greater burden is being placed on those that give. When you claim an organization strength of 8,000 or more and you can only get 197 to dig deep for something they actually value then that does not bode well for “the movement“.

I am not privy to the fundraising numbers of places like WFMT or WBEZ (both of which we give to annually) but I hope that there is more involvement from the listenership than is being shown here. It is simply unfair for folks to spend so much of their time “roaming the halls” of this forum and not bothering to offer at least $2. That is inexcusable.

But much of what seems to be in the DNA of activists is more about acting up rather than ponying up. ChainLinkers are quite good at giving your their sob stories about the worst intersections they face on their routes. And for the most part the “hard core” groups is there when a photo op is needed. But as for the rest of the “freeloaders” (because that is what they are) they are off trying to figure out what kinds of tires to use on their latest fixed gear wonder. And frankly these “good time Charlies” who have no problem making it to the Three Floyds for beers or the Revolution Tap for ale but cannot find enough money for a $2 donation are acting more like junior high schoolers than truly committed members of any movement.

Of course if the movement allows this sort of thing, then who am I to complain. But be advised that the motorist community is well-funded and come time to lobby alongside them for slices of the transportation pie you need to bring your “A Game“. At the moment this appears to be a movement spear-headed by less than 200 people and funded multiple times by fat-cat donors making even the 200 number a bit dubious.

Something to think about.

On Second Thought : This Is A Den of Stingy Bastards Who Are Worse Than “Takers”

A thread popped up today on the ChainLink Forum which struck a nerve with me:

Who wants an on-street bike corral?
Posted by Tony on December 27, 2012

On-Street Bike Corral for 10 Uprights

On-Street Bike Corral for 10 Uprights

Hey Chainlinkers,

The City of Chicago’s Department of Transportation is introducing on-street bike parking corrals. On-street bike corrals are a low-cost way to provide parking for 10 or more bicycles in the same space typically occupied by a car. Currently, there are four bike corrals in Chicago, but there is a need for many more. There are many reasons why a business should get a bike corral installed, but the biggest benefit is economics. We keep hearing it in the news.

Bicyclists tend to visit their local shops more often and spend more per month with all that disposable income. Making a bicyclists visit as convenient and inviting as possible makes sense for good business.

Do you know of a business or building that would benefit from having a bike corral?

Please reply here or send any suggestion to me at tony@activetrans.org
Also check out the bike corral website!

I’m all for on-street bike corrals. What however drew my attention to this thread (posted by a staff member of Active Transportation Alliance) was the highlighted portion. It is one of the “Talking Points” used to justify a move from driving to cycling during commutes and running errands. And I would have to guess that it is 100% valid. After you could not put it on the internet if it were not true, right?

And of course you cannot grumble and complain that the quote was taken out of context or just another of the nasty points made against urban cyclists by a ChainLinkhater“. This is information that everyone in the Church of Urban Cycling learns as part of their catechism. So I am off the hook here.

Getting back however to the question at hand, why are per capita contributions to the ChainLink so very low? If one of your reasons for choosing cycling is the lure of “greater disposable income” then the ChainLink crowd should have topped out their giving on the first day. At $2 per rider it would have been easy. But instead a mere handful gave and in some instances gave more than once.

How To Explain This State Of Affairs?

The cynic is me says that the membership numbers are artificially inflated. You know what Chicago is, the “vote early and often” capital of the universe. If you want to maximize your clout you have “signup parties” where folks create bogus accounts on ChainLink and thereby create the illusion that your membership is substantial. This in terms gives you leverage when you approach businesses asking for donations in exchange for ad space on the front page.

But I would never, ever in a million years want to attribute such chicanery to these fine folks who have already taken umbrage with my criticisms of their racist comments and general nastiness. So it being the Holiday Season I will dismiss this thought from my tiny mind.

The other plausible explanation is that there are some 8,500 vibrant and eager members of ChainLink (who mostly lurk) who despite all the disposable income building in their skin tight jeans are loathe to remove the $2 in change that was force up their asses during their most recent rides. So instead they kept it lodge there and continue to ride around with huge wads of disposable income gathering about their waists and impeding their ability to pedal.

Yep. That’s the better and more generous picture of the group. I feel better already.

So the math works out to (197 funders / 8,500 ChainLink members) x 100 = 2.32% participation

This is the kind of horde of activists which can carry the day when they put their mind to it. Just don’t ask them to open their tiny little wallets stuffed inside those skin tight jeans. Doing so might cause their beer money to drop all over the ground and what fun would that be?