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Old 11-20-04, 09:50 AM   #1
Mars
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Alternatives to CM

This thread is meant with all respect. Any regular readers of this forum will know that I am a supporter of CM. Whenever CM comes up in a post, the following comments appear (with greater or lesser degrees of heat): "I hate CM, it's a waste of time." "CM only angers drivers, there are more productive ways of getting cyclists rights represented."

I agree that CM takes up a lot of space (pun intended) on this forum designed to discuss advocacy issues. What I would like to know is what kind of advocacy activities are YOU involved in. Also, since they are more effective than CM, what victories have you won for cylcists?

Reading over this post, I can see how it might sound snarky, but it is not meant in that way. I think it would really be helpful to hear about the alternatives to CM and the resulting effects.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:11 AM   #2
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Whats CM?
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Old 11-20-04, 11:42 AM   #3
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Critical Mass...not that I have ever participated in one.
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Old 11-20-04, 03:38 PM   #4
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Critical Mass... and I HAVE participated in one! HORROR! (I'm even from a Blue state! DOUBLE HORROR!)

I can't say I've done a ton for bike advocacy but I intend on joining Transportation Alternatives with my next paycheck. I wish there was some volunteer program to help out on the Greenway specifically, as opposed to parks in general.

I really wouldn't mind helping out painting, planting, or clearing obstructions etc.

I feel like it's such a place for the community but doesn't exactly invite community input or assistance.
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Old 11-20-04, 03:53 PM   #5
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There are a lot of bike clubs in my area as well as other organisations devoted to promoting cycling. Even the municipalities and governement organisations have cycling initiatives that someone could get involved in. However, I believe that the easiest and most effective way for a mass number of cyclists to promote cycling is to simply ride their bikes in a lawful and courteous manner. The cycling in my area is pretty good all things considered and I attribute it to the fact that there are so many people in the greater Seattle area out there riding their bikes. When cycling is commonplace, it becomes less accepted. Of course there is a catch-22 to all this in both a good and bad way. Now as to how to bootstrap this situation, that's another matter entirely.
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Old 11-20-04, 04:57 PM   #6
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I support all the bike clubs in my area, which in turn deal directly with local and state government on access issues, trail maintenance, path construction and cyclists rights. I donate a fair chuck of change each year to advocacy groups, and work with my college's Eco club to promote bicycle access to campus, and to promote students to commute by bike.

I can't really think of a single thing that CM has ever directly done to improve anything?
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Old 11-20-04, 06:00 PM   #7
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I've joined the League of American Bicyclists, but far more importantly, I have fixed up and given away around a half dozen bikes in the last year (and simply repaired more, free of charge except for the occasional part). Some are being used on a daily basis. None of the bikes I've given away cost me more than 25$ and my time. Some were simply given to me. Small thing, but I think this sort of behaviour can work over the long term. Plus it keeps friends away from the ridiculous, lousy, gouging bike shops in this area, which can be so expensive they actually hurt local riding for transport. I am fortunate in having several good, cheap sources for used bikes in the area, which occasionally coughs up the odd Schwinn Paramount or old Trek. I also commute on a near-daily basis, and start my car less than once a week on average.

Victories? I guess I helped put a couple of people on bikes, and if they get out of their car even once a week, that's something.

The local CM seems dead, dead, dead. Haven't seen them blocking traffic in about a year.
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Old 11-20-04, 06:39 PM   #8
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1) I ride responsibly. I obey traffic laws. I always wear my helmet. I always wear brightly-colored clothes so car drivers can see me.

2) I ride politely. I never shout profanity or use obscene hand gestures.

3) I never refer to the police as pigs or Nazis. I don't believe the world is being controlled by a massive police conspiracy.

4) I never refer to automobile drivers.. who pay the taxes that build and maintain the roads I ride on... as cagers. Although I have little use for SUVs, I accept the fact that they are legal vehicles and my whining won't change that.

5) I always compliment our city government whenever they do something good for cyclists... like building bike lanes all across the city. I try to participate in all city-sponsored cycling events.

6) I maintain an excellent relationship with the police officers who patrol my cycling routes. I know them all by name. I help them do their jobs by telling them about abandoned or suspicious vehicles that I see while riding, or any questionable activity that I might see.

7) I repair and donate old bikes.

8) I encourage others to take up cycling... and to do it in a responsible manner.

I suppose none of this could be called a "victory" by CM definitions, because none of these things have been accomplished through confrontation with the non-cycling world. However, I think this is the way all cyclists should behave. By being cooperative and constructive... or acting like sheep as so many CM'ers say... cyclists in my community have made tremendous strides forward in the recognition of cycling as a worthwile activity. As a result, we have a wonderful cycling environment that will only improve in the years to come.
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Old 11-20-04, 06:42 PM   #9
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At the rate the price of fuel is rising, we won't need to do too much more advocacy.
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Old 11-20-04, 06:52 PM   #10
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Suntreader:

I support CM and I think that the points that you make are all victories and worthwhile contributions towards cycling. I admire and respect people who walk the walk as opposed to talking the talk. I don't know anything about people refering to simple decency as acting like sheep. I'm genuinely sorry if you have grouped me into that kind of thinking...
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Old 11-20-04, 07:23 PM   #11
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"I never refer to automobile drivers.. who pay the taxes that build and maintain the roads I ride on"

Don't believe this is true. There are federal funds for road construction, and in Virginia, the (cash strapped) VDOT has begun to raid general funds. The state is going to stop helping communities maintain roads here; it has also forced communities to slash the property tax on cars. I pay the taxes that help maintain the roads I ride on, whether or not I'm in a car or on a bike. I won't give an automobile user an ounce of respect on this issue, sorry.

Auto and transport taxes bring in about 15.7% of non-general funds in Virginia (and none of the general funds). But 22% of the non-general funds go to highway and transport (and a portion of general funds, as well). In other words, nearly a third of highway costs in the state of Virginia are subsidy that are not paid by direct taxes on auto users. In addition, VDOT has a 2.7 billion dollar annual budget, but gas and transport taxes bring in less than that on an annual basis (about 2.4 billion). This only accounts for state transport spending, and not local spending. Localaties do not tax auto users, aside from a negligible car property tax (I think mine was 75$ last year). The real subsidy to auto users is likely higher.

You might check budget info from your own state.

I've had CMers tell me that my approach to fixing up old rides and giving them away is unrealistic and not practical. On the other hand, I'm smart enough to know they are not necessarily representative of the lot of CMers. But it still strikes me as more party than protest, or at least a more effective party than protest. I'm a half-deaf, cranky old geezer, so I hate parties.
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Old 11-20-04, 07:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poguemahone
I've had CMers tell me that my approach to fixing up old rides and giving them away is unrealistic and not practical.
I guess they're blind. It seems pretty realistic to me... obvious by the fact that you're doing it. And it seems pretty practical to me... obvious by the fact that at the end of the day, another perosn is riding a bike. I think your actions have a much more immediate and positive direct effect than any CM ride. Good job.
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Old 11-20-04, 07:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suntreader
...
4) I never refer to automobile drivers.. who pay the taxes that build and maintain the roads I ride on... as cagers. Although I have little use for SUVs, I accept the fact that they are legal vehicles and my whining won't change that ...
Federal gasoline taxes pay for the Interstate highway system, but most of the funds for local roads and automotive infrastructure come from sales tax and other general revenue. Motorists come nowhere near covering either the societal, the environmental, or even the purely economic costs of driving. Yes, cycling on a public road is a subsidized activity, but driving a car on a public road is an even more heavily subsidized activity.
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Old 11-20-04, 07:39 PM   #14
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Khuon, I understand part of the argument (edit: the CMer's argument), as you have to make an investment in tools and time to re-source old bikes. But I think if you're serious enough about bikes as transport, you should figure the little fellows out and make an appropriate investment in tools. I'd participate, for example, in any maintainence clinic the local CM (which seems to be no more) cared to "orgainize," as long as I can pick the music. (Heh-heh).

On another note, I tried to volunteer my services to a local charity recently, which fixes up holiday bikes for kids. Unfortunately, they only did it on Saturdays, and I work all day every Saturday . Those of you with an interest in this type of activity should contact your local charities; ours is Goodwill. I would have really liked to do this, and am bummed big time that I cannot.
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Old 11-20-04, 07:51 PM   #15
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The reason I'm so respectful of cyclists on the road is because I am also a road cyclist.

I am a road cyclist because I enjoy it.

I enjoy cycling because I enjoyed it as a kid.

We need to get more kids to ride.
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Old 11-20-04, 09:16 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mars
I don't know anything about people refering to simple decency as acting like sheep. I'm genuinely sorry if you have grouped me into that kind of thinking...
Mars:

Here is what you said on 11-14-04 at 06:10 PM when I said that I think it is better to work with civil and legal authorities instead of confronting them:

Stop acting like sheep people! We are not on the roads through the benevolent tolerance of police or judges. We are there because we have the right to be there! Take it! Defend it! Or at least support those who will fight for you when you will not.

If I have unfairly categorized you, please accept my apology.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:02 PM   #17
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What I think would really help our cause is a real highly publicized with several 100 if not thousands of bicyclist doing a cross-country trip all together. A rolling cross country critical mass with the exception that they obey all traffic laws.

Bikecentennial back in 1976 really opened a lot of doors and helped introduce adults back into bicycling the United States. Maybe something like this would get some positive publicity.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:04 PM   #18
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LittleBigMan,

I think in one area where roadies/tourist fail is reaching out to children about bicycling. The Mountain bikers certainly have been reaching out to the kids and look what they kids want to ride. BMX bikes.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:09 PM   #19
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Exactly, Gpsblake.

We are not fighting motorists, we are fighting a mindset. Fighting ideas requires creative strategies.
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Old 11-20-04, 10:42 PM   #20
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This was supposed to be a thread about what non-CM riders are doing to promote cycling and cyclist issues. However, it appears that it is being hijacked by CM proponents. Didn't take long, did it?
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Old 11-21-04, 01:19 AM   #21
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Suntreader,

Dude, I'm trying to reach out to you and other CM opponents by showing that there are many ways of advancing the cause of cycling. I think that CM often dismisses the contributions of people like you. The "sheep" comment is taken out of context here. I was refering to the idea that we have to "suck up" to authorities such as police officers in order to expect simple justice or some equality on the roads.

This thread is meant to be a chance for non CM folks to talk about their many accomplishments. It was NOT meant to be a chance for CM to wade in and put down others. But it was NOT meant for yet aother chance to bash CM either. I invite you, Suntreader, to look over this thread and see who fired the first shot.

I admire people who are passionate about things. I am less admiring of people who only criticize and don't do anything themselves. It seems so me, Suntreader, that you are an active and passionate person. I hope, sincerely, that we can disagree about CM, and other activist organizations, without some of the acid that have marred other discussions.
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Old 11-21-04, 07:32 AM   #22
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Mars is about the only pro-CM guy on this thread, near as I can see. I haven't seen anyone else here advocating their style and tactics. Certainly not moi.
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Old 11-21-04, 10:39 PM   #23
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I went on one CM ride in Marin Co. CA, and another in Minneapols MN. The first was a pleasnt nonconfrontational ride through San Rafael. The later, was a much larger slow, snakelike crawl, that at times had hood pounding, and an in-your-face feel, ride through downtown. So, not all CM are the same.

As far as what I've done: I've shown many coworkers that bike commuting is not just possible, but fun. Several employees have followed my lead. I have also advocated for the corporation to make bike commuting more atractive, by improving the accomodations, reminding them of the cost of building parking spaces in a garage.

I'm also happy to talk to children about why I'm pulling a trailer, full of thing as that other people use a car to transport. I stop at almost every lemonade stand when I cycle, and schmooze with the kids selling their brew. I insist that my kids(8 and 10) bike to whereever we're going, if it's practical.
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Old 11-22-04, 12:17 AM   #24
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Make better use of alternative transportation industries. If you live/work in a large urban center, insist your own firm and the firms you deal with in that area use cycle messenger services to relay materials to and from your firm whenever applicable. Write your city council and mayor and insist the same for their activities. If your efforts result in 20-30 deliveries per day you've just put one bike on the road 5 days a week and made it that much harder for a fleet company (FedEx, UPS, USPS, etc) to justify adding to that fleet.
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Old 11-22-04, 07:34 AM   #25
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I would participate in organized road rallys if there were any to be found. As a transportation oriented cyclist, I don't really fit the profile of a club rider. I already run a 5K or 10K footrace most every month. It would be kind of nice to do something similar on the bike.

I don't really feel strongly enough about it to actually organize something though. The CM here in Detroit is pretty weak. It's just a handful of folks that take a quick spin around downtown and hit a bar afterwards. I haven't participated in one of these, mostly because it is inconvienient for me to get downtown at 430pm.

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