A Cautionary Tale Or Just Writer Fatigue?


Dave Feucht is thinking about signing off as blogger for Portlandize. He writes:

Dutch Bike with Satchel

Dutch Bike with Satchel

Well, this will be a bit of an unusual post. A bit of a solicitation. I’m wondering if anyone is interested in taking over Portlandize. Here is why:

Over the last number of years, as I have changed personally, a number of things have happened. I’ve become much less eager to toot Portland’s horn, as I feel that, while there are some nice things about riding a bike in Portland, it’s not really all it’s talked up to be, at least in my own personal experience, and so for me personally, writing a blog called Portlandize feels a bit misleading, as I’m not really gung-ho about ‘Portlandizing’ anywhere else.

The writing part is always a “labor of love” or if not you lose your muse. The Amsterdamize blog has had a similar paucity of articles in the past year. It’s blogger plans to stay in the game. He writes:

Amsterdamize has had a great, great year. So much so, that reporting on it has been lacking. Quite subtantially. I’ve received many pleas over the past 6 months, inquiries about upcoming posts and projects etc. Trying to address that has often felt like riding around with a flat, never good for catching up.

So, let me make amends with this video of my 2012 highlights (travel, work, often both), to show you I mean well and solidify the promise that I’ll do much better in 2013.

The “scenes” in both of these cities is pretty advanced. Neither holds a Critical Mass Ride each month. In fact the leadership in both cities express a level of distrust of using that approach. They have both entered into something of their “middle age” as a movement. No longer can you shout “never trust anyone over thirty” when you as an individual have passed that milestone.

Chicago is still in its infancy where the Urban Cycling Movement is concerned. It still has a face full of nascent acne which is showing but not disfiguring. It has learned however that its first kiss came with a mouthful of snot. What should have been a blissful moment on Dearborn Street suddenly turned into a rude embarrassment.

What it had hoped would be a city of motorists in poorer communities cheering the installation of protected bike lanes with open arms has turned sour. That reindeer sweater for the South and West sides of the city has moth holes the size of the pot holes in those protected bike lanes. And some of the movement’s membership is offended that the indigenous peoples are not as grateful as they should be.

A Teachable Moment

In education circles we call this a “teachable moment“. You suddenly realize that your English professor is more interested in your body than your mind and your girl friend tried to warn you. But it was not until you spied him with his next conquest that you realized he was not going to leave his wife and escape with you to Paris. Likewise it becomes clear that like every politician since the beginning of time, pleasing the public in the short term (i.e. before the next election cycle or the earmark monies run out) is uppermost in everyone’s mind, but your own.

I called it a minefield.© Steve Vance

I called it a minefield.
© Steve Vance

You suddenly realize that when a street is striped and presented as a newly minted venue and it looks as if it might be more at home in Beirut, Lebanon during its civil war or perhaps Syria today, that something is seriously wrong.

It was not supposed to be like this. We were all supposed to march into that shining new dawn of bicycle progress that ushers in the age when the automobile is superfluous and everyone wants a bicycle or better mass transit. But when you suddenly realize that despite a second term in the White House the POTUS is going to have the fight of his life trying to stave off massive cuts in federal spending and that of course means that transportation may take a terrible hit that someone forgot to edit the script for a “happy ending“.

Sandy Hook and a million other more urgent matters are dashing cold water on dealing with Climate Change, High-Speed Rail and bicycle infrastructure. And let’s face it every movement has a handful of folks who are either working for the police department as informants or just along for the “free food and beer“.

But cheer up. We still have just over 12 miles of so-so lane creation. The next big worry will come when the first serious snow falls and the plows tear up the PVC bollards and gouge the pretty green paint. Such is life. C’est la vie.