Urban Cyclist’s ‘Whine and Jeez’ Club Starts A ‘Drive-by’

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)

One of the things that makes the Urban Cyclist’s “Whine and Jeez” Club so very interesting is how much it contradicts the ethos of the very group it wants to emulate. Maybe the Danes are as petty as us Yanks but then they have infrastructure and millions of miles on their bikes that we cannot even hope to measure up to for decades to come. Their phase of development is more middle-aged than ours. We are still thinking and behaving like junior high schoolers or perhaps more like late pre-schoolers? You be the judge:

Gabe Klein memorial thread
Posted by Madopal (7.6 mi) on November 1, 2013 at 12:46pm

No, he’s not dead. He’s stepping down, though.
I, for one, am sad to see him go.

And with that sympathetic beginning comes an exemplary demonstration of Snarky 101 behavior

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
After leaving CDOT, Klein said he plans to take his wife on a vacation, then go to work on developing a couple of private-sector business plans that promote transportation technology.
I can’t think of a better way to say “forced to resign.”

Reply by Eli on Friday
“promoting alternative transit over vehicle travel”

Reply by carfreecommuter on Friday

Looking north along Dearborn

Looking north along Dearborn


Reply by Davis Moore on Friday
That’s a pretty cynical suggestion. Pretty much every initiative he’s championed has been a success and there’s never been anything but public support for his work from the Mayor’s office, who is the only person who would force him to resign. Anyone familiar with his bio knows he’s never spent too long in one place, more because he seems motivated to keep moving. He’s got a pretty strong track record of success.

Care to back it up?

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
No, but thanks for asking.

Ok. Imagine this is all taking place on the playground at lunchtime or even after school. This kid is about to get gang-tackled if he is not careful. I’ve seen this group in action and he is trying to take on the ring leaders in “snarkiness” and it will not get pretty.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on Friday
Or he wants more money or something closer to his wife. He’s done well in the private sector in the past and CDOT Commissioner doesn’t really pay that well compared to the other options available to a guy like Klein.

Reply by Christine (5.0) on Friday
Was he heavily involved with the push for Ventra? If so, and if it is forced resignation, I could see that being related.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on Friday
I don’t recall seeing anything tying him to Ventra and would be surprised if there was. The CTA is it’s own agency completely independent from CDOT. If anyone high up is going to take a dive for Ventra it would be Forest Claypool.

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
I don’t know about “the push for Ventra”– Ventra is a success story.
If anything, maybe the accusations of favoritism in the special treatment given to Alta.

Somebody has friends who “got the short end of the stick” and never got over it. Keep in mind though that everybody is supposedly just interested in further cycling, right? No one in the Urban Cycling Movement is there for out of anything but altruistic reasons, right?

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on Friday
In what world is Ventra a success story?

Reply by dan brown on Friday
+1. and I am VERY cynical but this reply is spot on IMHO.

Reply by JeffB (7+ miles) on Friday
I’m sad to see him go. I considered his hiring, and the support he got, the best thing Emmanuel’s done.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi on Friday
The announcement on Klein’s blog:

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
Holy shit, make sure your sound is off before loading that page.

Reply by Anne Alt on Friday
In what universe is Ventra a success story?

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
OMFG…. I’ve been scratching a small hole in my head trying to figure out why everyone all of a sudden has such a negative view of Ventra….. and I just realized I was thinking of DIVVY!
I will be sure to try to avoid potentially risky situations for the rest of the day…

Yeah, right…

Reply by h’ $550 on Friday
And as far as Ventra goes… I just can’t bring myself to do it…. it’s gonna have to wait until my Chicago Card is cold and lifeless.

These folks love to talk a good game about mass transit. But time and again their comments make it clear that it is the furthest thing from their minds when it comes to people movers.

Reply by Davis Moore on Saturday
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.

People often resort to what they do best. Evidently furthering the Urban Cycling Movement is just a means to another end.

Reply by h’ $550 yesterday

Stop the Fear Mongering And Act Like True Bicycle Advocates

Stop the Fear Mongering And Act Like True Bicycle Advocates

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
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.

That’s because it really is.

Reply by Tricolor yesterday
City politics are always pretty toxic.

Wait a gosh darned minute. Politics? I thought this was all about (imagine a swell of serene stringed instruments) “making the world a better place, where pollution was removed and children could laugh and sing on their way to school, and gun violence was gone and bikes were everywhere!” How does something as sordid as politics play into all of this?

Reply by globalguy yesterday
Whatever the reasons for his departure, we now have no official bike advocate at CDOT: neither a bike-oriented commish nor a Bicycle Coordinator. And I don’t like that such a position remains victim of the arbitrary whim of an opportunistic Mayor or a “family-oriented” appointee. Perhaps what passes for the 4th Estate in the bike community might take some time from reporting on policy/design minutiae to investigate the politics behind this. Inquiring minds wanna’ know …

He makes it sound like the day after the Crucifixion and all of the Disciples are wondering what to do now…

Reply by Davis Moore yesterday
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

This entire conversation is beginning to sound like one guy taking both sides of the argument (sock puppet-style). Nah, who would do something as cruel as that?

Reply by Juan 2-8 mi. 23 hours ago
It’s not that people seem to be ingrates, I think it’s just our fears of going back to pre-world class cycling facilities.

So all it takes is green paint and PVC bollards and you suddenly feel like a word-class cycling city? Wow, no wonder the Dutch were able to buy Manhattan for a string of beads.

Reply by Cameron 7.5 mi 23 hours ago
The point people are trying to make is that CDOT Commissioner is a revolving door position and has been for a long time. While a charismatic bike friendly commissioner can do a lot of good in their tenure, there’s nothing to keep what they set in motion moving after they move on. There needs to be institutional structural changes to ensure that progress outlives the short careers of CDOT commissioners and that there is some continuity as commissioners come and go.

Reply by S 23 hours ago
What exactly is your issue here? Why do you think that Gabe Klein owes us anything in terms of staying on the job? It’s not like he was elected to a term as the CDOT Director or anything. The guy could just be burnt out and tired of dealing with city politics and bureaucracy and wants some vacation time before moving on to a new venture.

Reply by h’ $550 23 hours ago
Abandonment issues.

Yep. This is the Disciples all over again. But then there was the Road to Emmaus thingy that helped them get their heads on straight again. Maybe something like that will happen here in the Windy City? Question is which street will it be? Perhaps Milwaukee or even Elson?

Reply by Davis Moore 23 hours ago
Which is a perfectly reasonable issue to address.

But that’s a completely separate issue from the whole “Ooooh, didya hear Gabe Klein is leaving? I wonder what happened? I bet he was forced out” gossip mongering that’s been creeping into this thread.

Wait, did someone just say abandonment? I thought we were talking crucifixion?

Reply by h’ $550 23 hours ago
You’re right. Anyone with an issue that doesn’t fall under “Ooooh, didya hear Gabe Klein is leaving? I wonder what happened? I bet he was forced out” should start a seperate discussion for it.

Oops! That “snarkiness gene” is starting to erupt again.

Reply by globalguy 17 hours ago
+1 and they should start an actual bike advocacy group in this city of ours

Did someone just cast aspersions on the Bike Advocacy Group here in Chicago? Heck, they were up all night getting that online signup thingy ready for me to sign, right?

Reply by Tom Dworzanski 12 hours ago
I liked the guy. He responded personally to my transpiration post on Twitter in the late evening. It showed me that he genuinely cared about his role.

I don’t know anything about whether or not he was forced out, but if he was forced out it must have been for a reason and that reason may be clear if we see something immediately change after his replacement takes over. If his policies all continue, I’d guess there’s a good chance he really did just want to move on.

Aw, that’s so sweet! I’ll bet all the guys that got healed of various illnesses and such were around after the crucifixion doing much the same thing. People always like the idea of having a “brush with greatness“.

Reply by Davis Moore 3 hours ago

This image however never appeared for some reason or another

This image however never appeared for some reason or another

Reply by h’ $550 7 minutes ago
You don’t say

So our maven of snarkiness gets in one last dig.

So To Sum It All Up…

  • People are having abandonment issues.
  • Their Messiah has been crucified and no one is there to console them.
  • Doubting Thomas wants to feel the holes in his hands and sides before he can move on.
  • Everyone needs to go view the Copenhagenize site and perk up!
  • Next time could someone else bring the popcorn and the running commentary?
  • And who is actually going to repaint those green lanes and replace the missing PVC bollards?
  • Otherwise if none of this stuff gets done we are surely going to slide back into oblivion as a no longer world-class cycling city, right?