This is my second-to-last day at the helm of the great ship U.S.S. This Blog. Tomorrow is my last day here at the Bicycle Coalition. I am moving to Seattle, where I will be working for a transportation and environment-oriented public engagement firm and rooting for my childhood Seattle Mariners.
It’s been a total pleasure (okay, near-total) conversing and interacting with the bicycling community over the past three-plus years. Working here has opened my eyes to the complicated relationship we all have with our streets, and the importance of being thoughtful in design and considerate in deed.
We still have much more work to do to make our streets places where everyone can travel safely, at their own pace and via their preferred conveyance. But it is heartening and fortifying to occasionally reflect on how far we’ve come. When I started working here the South Street Bridge was dismantled, Women Bike PHL was nonexistent, and bike share was but a gleam in Russell Meddin’s eye.[1. And others’ eyes. But the biggest gleam was in his eye. Left eye, I believe.]
As the person behind the Bicycle Coalition’s social media and other forms of communication, I’ve seen the blossoming of great conversations about bicycling, walking, and our streets and communities[2. These conversations were happening before I showed up, too. But I feel they have grown substantially in the past 3 years.] – lively, supportive, occasionally combative, but ultimately celebratory conversations centered around the joy of bicycling. But please remember that a Tweet cannot take the place of an in-person conversation, a bike ride, or a vote. The change we want to see in our streets, both in infrastructure and in culture, begins with understanding the needs of the many stakeholders and meeting folks halfway.[3. Preferably at a well-designed intersection with a beautiful tree canopy overhead and a golden retriever sitting on each corner.] It also requires showing up – to community meetings, City Council hearings, and elections. Change doesn’t happen because you Liked something on Facebook.
Bicycles are beautiful, and I believe they are a vector to a better engagement with one’s neighbors and surroundings. But those of us who love bicycles must share that love in a friendly and respectful way. Paternalistic preaching, unsolicited advising, and talking without listening are part of our movement too, and they must be rooted out.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]I was really excited to get a blog that could do pull quotes, so I’m using them one last time.[/su_pullquote]
I am very excited for the future of the Bicycle Coalition and bicycling in our region, and am sorry to be leaving before things like bike share and the Manayunk Bridge come online. I will be biking in Seattle and making the involuntary comparisons that come from ending one relationship and starting another. In the meantime, please ride safely. Ride respectfully. And, seriously: become a member of the Bicycle Coalition. These are good people here, working hard on our behalf, and frequently doing work that nobody else wants to do. Get their backs.
Good luck, Nicholas! We will miss your fine writing and wit. Seattle is lucky to get you back.