The Cycling Movement Is About ‘Vacuum Cleaners’ Not Personalities

Background Reading


Mikael Colville-Andersen (L) and  PBOT's Roger Geller took a spin before last night's event. (Photos © J. Maus)

Mikael Colville-Andersen (L) and
PBOT’s Roger Geller took a spin
before last night’s event.
(Photos © J. Maus)

The Urban Cyclist “Whine and Jeez” Club is seemingly all about gossip. Simple announcements about changes in the direction of the life of the CDOT Commissioner descend into this kind of discussion:

Reply by h’ $550 12 hours ago
Again, I can’t think of a better way to say “forced to resign” than “leaving to focus on family/explore future options/blah blah blah.” I’ve seen this same line used so many times when being on the “inside” enough to know the real story. You seem to be pretty invested in Gabe and presumably have some sort of advanced knowledge of his situation, as evident in how personally you’re taking this…go ahead and give me an explanation for his quitting that makes some sort of sense.

Reply by Davis Moore yesterday
And once again, does anyone have any real grounds for suggesting that he has been “forced out”? Because to suggest so without grounds unfairly casts a bit of a pall on his tenure. If it’s just baseless conjecture then I don’t see the point in it. As far as I can tell the only people with real issues about Klein’s tenure were Josh Squire and Ben Javorsky (who was just taking up Squire’s cause) over the B cycle kerfuffle. And that whole tempest in a teapot was just that, you either embrace the conspiracy theories or you don’t.
The fact is that CDOT commissioner positions are typically revolving door positions. Someone like Janet Sadik Khan’s run for 6 years as DOT comish of NY is unusual. Klein’s professional MO has been the “start up” model, both in his private and public ventures. Four years at zip car, two years founding On the Fly, two years at DDOT getting their progressive transportation act together then two years with CDOT doing the same. And in every case his ventures were a success and he was pretty much head hunted for his next position.

Murmuring that he was “forced out” smacks a little of old hens scratching for some dirty nugget of gossip which is just tacky.

Reply by Davis Moore 10 hours ago
I don’t know the guy nor do I have any advance knowledge. Everything I’ve referenced is available on Wikipedia. I don’t take it personally beyond being a Chicago cyclists and realizing that we had a good thing in Gabe for the years that he was here and I’m thankful for the work he’s done. I just get irritated when people seem to want to tear someone down for no reason and with no real evidence of wrongdoing. It seems petty.

Reply by Davis Moore 18 minutes ago
You do know that the phrase “Inquiring Minds Want to Know” is the tag line for The Inquirer right? Only the trashiest tabloid ever. You don’t find it the least bit ironic that that’s your go to phrase?

As for the spreadsheet, great, if the point is that CDOT needs a bikeways department. Great, agreed, the city also needs a planning department in general. But why is that Klein’s fault and what do “the circumstances of his departure” have to do with it?

And now this is turning into an attack thread on Klein for “leaving us in that situation”?


Seems like the “situation” he’s leaving us in is one with radically improved bike infrastructure and a world class bike share system?

Wow. What a bunch of ingrates…

We Need To Stay Focused

Chicago it would seem is really all about a concept of the future of cycling that has plenty of room for those who are egotistical. On the way there we are constantly trying to show how much more intelligent we are when it comes to things like locking up a bike.

We’ve got special phrases now that show just how cool we are. For instance ‘free-locking‘. And to prove just how important we are we are willing to spend days berating one another for how poorly our locking methods really are working. Never mind the fact that I cannot find a single repository of useful information on locking a bike that resides on the official Urban Cycling “Whine and Jeez” Club forum. You know the kind of thing where you learn how the percentage of bikes stolen are locked up. And what kinds of things are not useful to lock to. Or who makes the best kind of lock and why.

It would certainly be helpful if I could see diagrams and even photographs showing a collection of great lockups and perhaps a contrasting set showing ones that are not so much. But instead I am met by a way of blather about how someone has managed to bike and lock their steed for 18 years and until now nothing untoward has happened. Or how strong someone else is who can lift a carbon bike above their head and toss it over a fence, proving that the first individual was stupid for ‘free-locking‘.

Is all this stuff really necessary?

Think a pamphlet or a sticker or something that could be printed on a small card. It needs to be precise and above all useful. The forum instead spends countless hours poking fun at poorly locked bikes (presumably by others not cool enough to belong to this exclusive club of cognoscenti). And instead of finding a way to create something which in essence helps avoid these sorry tales about bikes lost, we get to listen to bike club presidents who offer “+1” atta-boys in a effort to help these pitiful conversations move along.

Really? Is this the best we can do? Why not be honest about this forum and simply declare that it is a place where the pitiful hold a “collective love-fest” and parade the number of photo-ops they have attended and the number of meetings that they were fortunate enough to sleep through before everyone else. Why not in fact transform the place into a Twitter space so that you can offer up snide comments in real-time and not have to clutter up Facebook?

Instead we spend time complaining that the timing of lights on Dearborn does not appeal to our need for speed. Or that the pedestrians in the crosswalk are preventing us from flying through unimpeded. And we are fervently wishing that perhaps the accident in that lane from the other day was about one of them being down on the ground. Really? This sort of stuff is sick. But hey, when you are as important and as self-righteous about cycling and its future as the Chicago crowd tends to be, then anything goes.

Enjoy your tattoos and nose rings folks. The rest of us will simply try and turn over the pedals each day and get from point A to point B on our vacuum cleaners.