When A Movement Grows Insular

Background Reading




Some movements understand that the transition to ‘mainstream‘ can be achieved provided they learn how to navigate the shoals of insularity. The Tea Party is not a good example of such a group. Neither is the Urban Cycling Movement. In the case of the former it has been overtaken by a newcomer in The Great Combover who is better at their schtick than they. Their brand got a bit singed because of their inability to even appeal to their natural allies in the GOP. I fear that the Urban Cycling Movement is headed for the same shallow waters.


We cyclists have to learn to swallow our pride and own our mistakes. It is that simple. What is not happening is that they sources we look to for guidance of the movement are either silent or arrogant. The official cycling advocacy groups here in Chicago are probably buzzing with scuttlebutt about the recent death of a fellow member but have said nothing to date (to my knowledge) in any official manner. No doubt the more militant members of the journalist corps will try to shake their lapdog status and find their footing so as to react with some sense of humility about the PR problems our community faces.

But for now they are bristling with angry responses at the ‘scolding‘ in an opinion piece in the Tribune of the behaviors of cyclists who represent all of us as they roll along on the streets of the city. We have yet to see anyone who has simply accepted the reality that our behaviors have consequences and scolding is the least we should expect when a death occurs. After all the vitriol against the driver whose collision with Bobby Cann has been ceaseless. Now those who wonder how we can be so lawless and still claim the high road when it comes to collisions demand an answer.

None of these dissections of our behavior is going to go away completely. What will really put the Fear of God into the Urban Cycling Community is the response by mainstream media should one of us be so stupid as to collide with a pedestrian who dies from her injuries. That I am certain will happen. New York City‘s Urban Cycling Movement managed to not only to do this twice in Central Park within a month!

When it happens here I want those who have been militant to stand up and really face the sh*tstorm that will prevail. After all NYC has nearly twice the miles of bicycle infrastructure that we possess. And by all accounts the number of miles of such improvement is supposed to usher in the age of Vision Zero, right? But instead of that happening countless arguments are still erupting within the discussion groups devoted to Chicago’s Urban Cycling Movement about the quality of the commuter experience by bicycle.

People are still upset that the infrastructure either does not shield them effectively from their fears of being harmed by automobiles or that there is not enough of what apparently did not work for them. It is as if we are a group of hypochondriacs who got a prescription from a doctor that isn’t seemingly working. So we call her up and demand that our dosage be doubled! Huh?

Take Your Medicine Now – It Will Only Get Worse

We are likely as a movement to experience the ‘aging out‘ process where we have begun to turn grey before having reached the Promised Land or a tragedy will occur that shocks even our most ardent supporters and leaves them with ‘no cover‘ from which to offer excuses on our behalf. It will indeed happen that way.

This applies even to the Urban Cycling Movement.

This applies even to the Urban Cycling Movement.