So, what comes next?

It has been over a year since I hauled the last box of stuff from the Flying Pigeon storefront; just a few months after that my campaign for city council went down in flames.

I was falsely accused of racism, homophobia, transphobia, fat hate, anti-Mexicanism, anti-Americanism and had a horde of intellectual gate-keepers in this city screaming at me to apologize and disappear.

People with whom I had worked for years, people whose causes I had donated time, passion, and money to, people whose values I thought I shared denounced me on the basis of a series of pre-election partisan attack pieces.

So, what comes next? For me, pretty much nothing. I’ve been doing more housework; repairing appliances; dropping off and picking up my kid. For the bicyclists and safe streets advocates in LA, the answer is simple: we’re mostly screwed from now until at least 2020 and most likely 2022 and beyond.

The Drop of a Blog Post

Whatever political hand we held in local politics has been exposed as an empty bluff. Our self appointed “leaders” in livable streets politics will ignore years of actual work, building political coalitions across mainstream political lines and across economic and cultural divides; our “leaders” will walk away from practical politics at the drop of a blog post in order to score invisible points in a fight for temporary moral high ground in the pot-holed field of identity politics. Like government officials and politicians, non-profit executives and journalists get paid if things stay broken, and their donors only give when things are.

Perhaps this is why the bike community held some sway for a few years: we used to get together and coordinate blog posts.

We also used to get together for more than drunkeness and drug abuse on two wheels.

What ails this country now ails the bike community in Los Angeles as well – and that is how it will go for the foreseeable future. We will continue to die and be injured on the streets. Our elected leaders will mock our deaths as they mock our lives and what little power we have. Our power, as cyclists collectively pushing for safe streets, will dwindle as paid advocates in non-profits work diligently to silence and contain any legitimate, and easily addressed, grievances with accusations of “white fragility”, structural racism, equity, and bigoted arguments against our views based on characteristics like our biological gender or the color of our skin. On the other side are all the same old red herrings protecting the status quo: car-only streets are “more efficient”; “Get a job, hippy.”; “This isn’t [insert city or region where streets are safe].”; “Tax bicycles!”; “Bike lanes will slow emergency response times.”; “Idling cars means more pollution.”; “Lance Armstrong wannabes.”; etc., etc., etc.

There is no escape from the trap that we have laid out for ourselves other than to do what cyclists were doing in the 1990’s – developing in each individual person the skills and knowledge to pass on the humble flame of hope on two wheels. The time has come again to wait, and watch, and prepare. The doing season is over.

What comes next? Just one call out blog post, civic catastrophe, and ecological calamity after another until we see a chance to break through again with the dream of a city that is built to respect human needs over motorized transportation.

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