Transport cycling—especially when I’ve had to do it on roads with my children—has led me to viscerally despise the kind of politician who courts bigots for votes by victimising out-groups. Transport cyclists are a persecuted and vulnerable group, we have no protection under hate speech or anti-vilification laws, and in the backs of many of our minds is the fear of being deliberately ran over by a particular kind of Trump voter, wherever he of she may live in the world.
Regardless of our private political views, as a group we have cause to back left wing progressive agendas (environmentalism, social equity, public health, etc.) because we see allies there who might help our cause. So there’s another reason for us cry fowl as a spectre of “Trumpism” looms. The wispy bouffant brand of politician eschews those agendas for decades-old fuelers of jobs and growth: coal, cars and sprawl.
But what many of the progressive left are now saying is that we can cry all we like. The luddites have the numbers. That’s that. With his trained mellifluous calm Barack Obama can say Trump is a blip on an upward trending graph, but that’s only if the graph goes back to slavery days, and who actually knows the trend won’t be toward barbarism for ever more? As for engaging the red necks in “discourse”, they’re just going to tell us “fuck off”.
We have to believe things could go either way. While we blindly espouse faith in a predetermined future we’re like like dwindling church congregations looking to the East for Jesus returning. The bike boom might have just started, or it might have been a “dead-cat-bounce” on a graph that’s trending to zero.
I live in a state witnessing one of the cruelest bike-lashes by a conservative government anywhere in the world. The mayor Clover Moore had the good foresight to build bike infrastructure that could not be ripped up, with its own storm water runoff, no less. But the conservative state government held the ace card: three to four hundred dollar fines, and fines for “dangerous riding”, however defined. That shit and hyper agro coppas with guns really messes with your head and it stops a lot of people from riding. Don’t be surprised if it comes to your town.
Hope unifies losers. What unifies winners is a vision of the future, that they publicly assert to be imminent and inevitable, while in private they know they’ll be working their arses off just to have a slim chance.
I’m about to publish an essay I was commissioned to write by Shimano, explaining The Future of urban cycling to a meeting of bicycle makers. There is no “The Future” as such. What there is a vision of the future that the bicycling industry has the power to construct. They don’t have economic capital to wield like the auto industry. But they have a lot more social capital and a broader cast of possible allies, if they can figure out how to bring them on board. I guess with this brief thought bubble I’m thinking how the next post relates to my typical reader—who I imagine as someone involved in volunteer bicycle advocacy to some degree. Don’t pat yourselves on the back like a bunch of old biddy Christians. The Enlightenment is an arbitrary story commentators have invented to package the past. It is not a story we can tell of the future. The future is something we create from whatever power we’re able to muster, the way Donald Trump mustered power when everyone was saying he had none.