Ideas, inspirations and discussionson creating better, smarter cities

Getting to 2100

October, 2012 Archive

My last newsletter as a Metro Councilor

IMG_0032Whew! It was almost 12 years ago that I took my first oath of office as Metro Councilor from District 5. Now, I’ve reached my 12 year, 3 term limit and I want to say goodbye and thank you. I’ve had a great time representing you and working to make this an even better place to live. And to make Metro a better agency, providing great service to the more than 5 million people we touch every year through the Oregon Zoo, the Oregon Convention Center, our parks, solid waste services and more…

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I am not a cyclist…

A journalist is someone who writes for a living, an artist makes art. Columnist, pianist, economist… all are ways we use to identify people by their profession. Lance Armstrong is (was) a cyclist, making his fortune by riding a bicycle. I am not a cyclist. I am a person who happens to ride a bicycle to my work, shopping and to visit friends.

A cyclist is a stereotype, not a person. People have rights—to freedom of movement, to safety, to equitable access—that are frequently denied to them when they use a bicycle. When we become a “cyclist” in the eyes of authority and other citizens we are seen as equivalents of automobiles, inanimate objects rather than citizens.

We reinforce this dangerous objectification (and loss of our human rights) when we proclaim ourselves “cyclists.”


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From Victims to Citizens

As the mosquitos of the modern city, cyclists are used to being swatted at, cursed at, complained about or, worse, just ignored by other citizens and authorities alike. So, it is natural that people riding bicycles feel aggrieved, outraged and self-righteous.

Being part of such an easily identifiable social group has its advantages—it’s easy to find others with similar interests, we have no shortage of conversation starters (from the latest gear to the latest close call) and simplified fundraising (you just ask your friends). But there is also a danger: cyclists often fall into the same traps that many marginalized groups do, seeing themselves as victims, outside of society and powerless. Armed with the gospel of urban salvation—the holy bicycle–we risk becoming caricatures: wild-eyed prophets preaching doom and disaster, spitting in the eye of the establishment, wearing outlandish clothing, and looking down our noses at “normal” people…

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About Gettingto2100

Why Getting to 2100? The next century will be a test: can humans use their intelligence and foresight to successfully transition from our consumption-fueled economy to one that balances the needs of humans with the Earth’s available resources. Getting to 2100 aims to be a forum for sharing of good ideas and good works. Got a good example or a new idea? Share it with the world!

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