Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘cascade bicycle club’

How to Do a Swap Meet

In Bicycling on February 25, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Seattle’s annual Bike Swap blowout will take place at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30 on Saturday, the day before Sunday’s annual Chilly Hilly ride on Bainbridge Island. Over the years the Swap Meet has evolved into quite the bike scene, and this year promises to be no different.

Here are some guidelines gleaned from years of experience going to bike swaps. We hope they can be of use at the big meet.

1. Before you head to the swap meet, make a precise list of what you actually need (it’s also a good idea to write down the lowest price you can find on, say, the Web; you really need to know price points to know if you’re getting a good deal). You’ll see so much at the meet that it’s easy to forget what you really came for. I typically have half a dozen target items on my list, e.g., new cable housing, backup pedals, some winter tights, a cluster set, saddle, and so on. Note that although it’s a swap meet, you’ll find a lot of new stuff on the floor, especially clothing. Much of it will be at prices you’ve never seen before. Oh and don’t forget the crucial shopping bag! Or do as I do and wear a big ol’ backpack.

2. Bring lots of cash. I don’t go with less than $500. Please don’t tell my wife, who thankfully never reads this blog. Although some of the vendors (stores) will take charge cards, cash is good for two things: Speed, and negotiating. “Oh, sorry, I’ve only got INSERT FIGURE HERE on me.” There will be no cash machine on premises. Some vendors may take checks (although they’re crazy to), but it’s not worth the gamble.

3. Arrive early. If you usually arrive early to things, arrive even earlier. My friend Jim Lyon and I typically show up 45 minutes before the door opens at 9 a.m. And we’re by no means close to the door. Typically a few hundred folks line up by opening bell, and the further ahead you can be, the better opportunity you have for scoring the best deals. Note: If you do run late, you’re probably better off showing up at 9:15 or 9:20 than, say, a quarter to 9. By a quarter after, assuming an on-time start (not always the case), the line has usually dissipated and you can blow right in. (Note: There’s bike parking, but bring your own lock. It’s unattended.)

4. I like to start off by cruising the entire floor in one sweep. The reason: The good stuff goes fast. Two things to keep in mind while cruising: Snap up a good deal that fits your needs. It won’t be there the next time you pass the booth. I once walked in and the first booth I encountered had brand new Nevegals on sale for $15. No need to negotiate, I snapped ‘em right up. Point No. 2: Make a mental note, or even write down, stuff you might want but is a bit overpriced, or that you doubt will go quickly. You might even make a passing inquiry, “How much are you asking for this?” Just so they see your face and know you’re interested. That means they won’t willy nilly lower the price to the next guy, figuring you’ll come back again. You can even mention a price point you’re willing to pay and have the vendor hold it for you on that basis. Most vendors won’t go for it, but again, it shows your interest.

5. OK, once your first pass is done, start the whole thing over, but this time with an eye on bargaining. Big Point: Never pay the marked price! Now there are exceptions, like that $15 set of Nevis. But typically even at swap meets vendors ask high. They expect to dicker. Here’s where knowing price points comes in handy. Once when I wanted a new cluster, I noted to the vendor that his price was higher than Performance’s, and I’d much rather buy from him. Deal made.

6. If you find something you really like but can’t get the price where you want it, just hang in there. Within a couple of hours, earlier even, the vendor will start to waver. A couple years back I found a primo full face helmet, brand new, going for $90. An hour and a half later I got it for $60. There’s a bit of risk in waiting, of course. You have to calculate your odds that others will find the item overpriced (or demand for it is limited enough to begin with that it won’t attract a lot of buyers).

7. Caveats: Look used stuff over pretty carefully. Last year some guy was selling used chains. Unless you have a chain tool with you or otherwise have an expert eye, chains would be the last thing you’d buy at a swap meet. Vendors also can confuse you by “mispackaging” items. One year I was set to buy a new Conti still in the box, when I happened to see the label underneath. The actual tire inside was different, an off-model I didn’t want. Check DVD boxes to make sure the right disc is inside. On tires, make sure you’re getting a 26-incher not a 29er (assuming you want the 6er). On clothing, check for snags, stains, dropped stitching, defects. Stuff like that…it’s easy to buy the wrong item, and then you’re stuck. No taking it back for exchange!

Good luck! Just don’t buy anything I want before me, OK?

The Lonesome Death of SB5838

In Bicycle advocacy on February 22, 2010 at 11:01 am

You have to wonder what it takes to get anything done legislatively any more, anywhere…in Congress, at the state level, in the city.

The widely supported, much publicized “Vulnerable Users” bill has died a lonesome death in the Washington State senate, despite the efforts of Cascade Bicycle Club. Bright side: The bill made it out of committee — something that could not be said for its antecedent last year. Dark side: It was a more general, more “politic” form of legislation that emphasized rehabilitation and education rather than punishment — and still couldn’t make it to a vote. Far side: The bizarre, unfair situation will still exist that cyclists can be killed with only a “failure to yield” ticket being issued — if a ticket is issued at all. As David Hiller, Cascade’s advocacy director, put it, people are always startled to discover that “the penalty for not stopping for a pedestrian in a crosswalk is the same penalty as not stopping for a pedestrian and killing them.”

“Vulnerable User” legislation gets a hearing

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on January 28, 2010 at 6:50 am

Seattle Times: ” ‘There are cases where a driver is not filled with criminal intent but truly does cause death or serious injury to a biker, to a walker,’ state Sen. Joe McDermott, D-West Seattle, a sponsor of the bill, said at Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing.”

You can still make a difference.

Interesting discussion of the legislation in Cascade Bicycle Club forum.

News Cycle: Facebook protest tomorrow, How you can help, Discriminatory Portland cyclists & more

In Bicycle advocacy, News Cycle, Obama Bikes on January 22, 2010 at 2:13 am

Reminder: Facebook anti-cycling hate page protest is tomorrow at FB headquarters near the foot of California Street (and Bowdoin) in Palo Alto. Gets rolling at noon.

Protests are good. Action is even better. What you can do today to actually combat anti-cycling mentality is to click on over to Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy page and contact your legislative representative re Washington State’s proposed “vulnerable user” law (SB 5838). It’s a nicely automated system that takes mere seconds. I know. I timed myself.

BTW, New York state is considering similar legislation.

Have bike riders in Portland become so intimidating that they scare automobile drivers? A new report says the “biking community is so strong that motorists sometimes feel discriminated against.” Yes, it’s a real problem, how bikes hold up cars, even extremely busy and important Bimmers and Mercedes, on uphills, and how they take up valuable parking space with bike racks and oh, don’t forget, cause the dreaded “driver squint” at night with their blinkies and bike lights. But the worst is, bikes leave scratch marks on car paint when motorists run them over. Yeah, we feel real sorry for that most persecuted of all minorities, Portland motorists. Next thing you know bike riders will be demanding use of the full lane! (On a serious note, congrats to BikePortland.org for topping the list of local blogs.)

And hey, Portland isn’t the only place where motorists feel discriminated against. From Florida:

Who are you honking at? from Keri Caffrey on Vimeo.

Jacquie Phelan unearths one of her earliest bike writings, an essay in the not forgotten and still lamented Bike Tech. Interesting that she cites the Gary Klein piece, one of the ones I most remember. I also remember riding one of the earliest aluminum road frames from France — and yes, thinking Budweiser. The thing was actually glued together. I purchased one of Gary’s first road frames, which I still have, and was a big Klein fan back then so naturally assumed he was right to sue. Oh the stories the old guard can tell. And how they pale compared to the backstories.

And how far we’ve come. The latest issue of Mountain Bike Action magazine, drawing from its annual reader survey, notes that “a staggering 86 percent” own aluminum bikes. Carbon fiber at 6 percent and steel at 5 are distant trailers, as well as ti at 3. Quick calculations tell me that of the 32 bikes I own or have owned, 6 were steel, three carbon and 1 ti, so my ratio is not too far off.

Cozy Beehive takes a detailed look at the Kolelinia, which we derisively thought was the scientific term for temporary insanity.

Great Expectations: Top 10 Bicycling Issues for 2010

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Racing, Lance's Chances, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes on January 1, 2010 at 3:42 am

Here are our Top 10 things to watch for in the world of cycling for the coming year. Yes we thought about a Top 2,010 list for numerical compliance, but hey, that’d be way too much work.

1. In the Washington State legislature, a “Vulnerable User” bill. Similar legislation failed last year but the Cascade Bicycle Club and its relentless advocacy director, David Hiller, will be trying again. A Traffic Justice Summit in October set the agenda for why legislation is needed: Too many cyclists are being injured or killed with at max a traffic ticket being issued. Growing cycling awareness among elected leaders, particularly in Seattle and King County, should help Cascade’s efforts.

Nationally, watch for additional 3-feet-please laws stipulating wider berth for bikes v. cars.

2. Seattle native Jill Kintner gets her world championship. Kintner narrowly missed the 2009 rainbow jersey in Australia, and the 2009 season that was supposed to be a gradual comeback after winter knee surgery turned into a breakout year. Barring injury, 2010 should belong to Jill. She’s featured btw in a new DVD, “Women of Dirt,” that will premiere in Seattle Feb. 5th.

3. On the road side, how high can Tyler Farrar go? The Wenatchee lad put his stamp on pro sprint competition with a number of impressive showings in 2009, and only a bullet named Mark Cavendish stood in his way for a Tour stage win or two. It’ll be a tall order to beat the Manx Missile, but if anyone has the tools and moxy, it’s a one-year-wiser Farrar.

Flyboys will like it

Stevens Pass Mountain Bike Park: Great things in store

4. Stevens Pass mountain bike park. This has been on the books for what seems like forever, but with release of a sweeping Environmental Impact Statement in December looks ready to finally roll. During the mountain bike season thousands of Seattle-area riders go to Whistler B.C.’s MTB park; it’s time that money and those resources stayed in Washington. Stevens won’t be another Whistler out of the gate of course, but its closer proximity and potential for expansion hold huge promise for the locals.

5. Mayor Mike McGinn’s cycling agenda.
We have big hopes for Seattle’s new cycling mayor and the city’s cycling blueprint. Not that everything will change overnight, but McGinn truly appreciates the bicycle’s role in urban transportation networks, and from his insights and leadership we believe Seattle could emerge as the leading bike municipality in America (currently held by Portland). If nothing else, the mayoral gas bill is sure to shrink from his predecessor’s SUV-hoggin’ totals.

6. Helmet cams rock on. We’re seeing these things everywhere, on freeriders, XC epics, roadie rides. The technology has finally improved to the point where wireless and HD are de facto in new models, plus battery advances mean lighter, less bulky units. The downside is a lot of trail video showing the backside of a guy in front. But for a personal record of your big adventures with virtually no fiddle factor, you can’t beat a helmet cam.

7. More comeback from Lance Armstrong.
The “Lance factor” played a big role in cycling’s expansion through the 2000s and it looks like at least through the coming year Lance will continue to draw headlines. We don’t expect Lance to win, say, the Tour de France, but somehow just being in the race makes him the winner, at least in the American public’s mind. A host of other pro cyclists have more power and ability than Lance at this point in his career, but until someone with enough charm and charisma emerges to take his place, Lance will remain King.

8. Cross-country mountain biking,
too, makes a comeback. This may sound weird, but the signals we’re getting from shops, riders and tour agencies is that the mountain-bike-park thing is starting to flip. (This despite all the excitement over Stevens’ opening.) A new generation of riders whose longest climbs involved a chairlift are going for lighter, longer-distance frames and equipment as a whole new matrix of high-country riding awaits their discovery. Old-timers like us just nod in amusement. Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s work on South Snoqualmie Fork trails will pay off in 2010.

9. The economy continues to hammer the bike biz. 2009 totals aren’t available yet, but data through the third quarter suggest a 10 to 20 percent pullback on sales and profit. While much of that is in high-end equipment, and isn’t catastrophic on an annual basis, it nonetheless threatens the sustainability of numerous smaller shops and businesses. Our gut sense is that things will continue — using a bike suspension term — to wallow through 2010, neither much worse nor much better. Only a turnaround in the jobs picture, which will put more people on bikes for transportation and give them discretionary spending for bling and trips, will signal any upside for cycling.

10. Northwest freeride expansion continues. In addition to whatever Stevens Pass comes up with, Galbraith Mountain will undoubtedly continue its march to world-classdom with its ever-expanding, more challenging trails network. Kudos to all the gang up in Bellingham who do such a great job on Galby. Closer to Seattle, Evergreen’s work on Duthie Hill outside of Issaquah is getting all kinds of props. And Evergreen’s Colonnade mini-park under I-5 will remain the best place to sharpen skillz — watch for it in forthcoming DVD format as well.

Duthie Hill from Walter Yi on Vimeo.

Daily Roundup: Aptos starz, Cascade Bicycle Club advocacy, Folders are hot, bikes ‘n fealty & more

In Bicycle advocacy, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Videos on December 27, 2009 at 3:35 am

Pinkbike comes to Aptos and discovers a whole new world out there… Welcome Jordan!

Speaking of Aptos, we were riding there the day before Christmas Eve, coming down the road in Forest of Nisene Marks, when who should pass us driving up but Cam McCaul & the boyz, pickup full of bikes ‘n lads. It’s kinda cool when you can see the stars from Crankworx and DVDs cruise by like any other day in the woods. Hope they did some maintenance on the trails, someone took out the jumps and the lips are all ragged on one of our favorites anyway.

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club, along with Silverdale Cyclery, will host a bicycle advocacy workshop for Kitsap cyclists beginning 9:30 a.m. Saturday Jan. 9 at the shop, 9242 Silverdale Way NW in Silverdale on the peninsula. RSVP at cyclery@silverdalecyclery.com or 360 692-5508.

And Cascade’s Transportation Advocacy Day will be Jan. 28 in Olympia. RSVP to Chris Rule.

Mobiky

Mobiky the folder king

Folders are big among the younger gen. I can’t pretend to understand why exactly, especially since I the ancient have a folding Mobiky, but it’s definitely true. The only other Mobiky user I know lives near me in Palo Alto (a complete and statistically anomalistic coincidence; there just aren’t many Mobiky riders out there) and he’s like 25. He loves the things. He says if I want to sell mine, which is actually my wife’s, he already has a buyer. Or two or three.

Chris Kovarik tells his secrets.

Bike sharing in Silicon Valley now has a date — March.

Reason No. 2,369 to ride a bike: It helps your marriage last … and last!

Police bias against cyclists explored in San Francisco

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Bicycling, Obama Bikes on December 6, 2009 at 7:32 pm

One pressing motivation behind Seattle-based Cascade Bicycle Club’s campaign to pass “vulnerable user” legislation seeking justice for cyclists injured or killed in car accidents is to force law-enforcement agencies to take bicycles seriously.

No one who has been involved in a police-reported accident doubts the entrenched bias against cyclists. The attitude can generally be summed up as, “Since some cyclists run red lights or otherwise do foolish things on the streets, the bicyclist is almost always at fault in an accident.”

Drivers of course run red lights and do stupid things all the time. If they hit another car and injure or kill the driver, they are cited. Only when they hit or kill a cyclist do they automatically get the benefit of the doubt, as well as, usually, the benefit of not even a ticket.

In San Francisco, S.F.StreetsBlog has a compelling post documenting baldly expressed anti-cyclist sentiment from the local police department.

It’s a good primer for anyone seeking to understand why the words “justice” and “cycling” have been mutually exclusive for so long, and the urgency behind Cascade’s campaign to unite them under the law.

Crosscut.com: Time to ‘claim the lane’ on bike safety

Biking Bis: Seeking justice for bike riders in Washington State

Let There Be Justice

Police arrest cyclist: A double standard?

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on November 20, 2009 at 9:49 am

Seattle Times: “A 32-year-old bicyclist accused of running over a 6-year-old boy near Pike Place Market on Friday, leaving the child hospitalized with serious facial injuries, was charged today with vehicular assault and hit and run.”

Re this incident, where a man on a bike apparently hit a 6-year-old boy in a crosswalk, we are impressed with the alacrity that police exercised in tracking down and arresting a suspect.

We can’t help but make some observations, though:

If a car had hit the boy, it would not have made the news. The boy was injured, but if you don’t die in a car-pedestrian accident, you don’t get a headline.

If a car had hit the boy, it’s doubtful an arrest would have been made so quickly.

If a car had hit a cyclist in similar circumstances, no way would an arrest have been made so quickly — if ever. Cars can kill cyclists with no arrest being made. It’s already happened 4 times this year in Seattle, the most notorious being Kevin Black, run over by a van. The investigation took months, and the judicial system wound up declaring it could take no action. (Black’s distraught family subsequently filed a wrongful death suit.)

We think the case with the 6-year-old is the way traffic justice should work. If the police report is correct, this is indeed a case of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. Neither should be tolerated in Seattle.

Our concern is that this is the first indication we’ve seen of any change to a status quo that generally ignores or minimizes such incidents, and it happens to involve a cyclist hitting a small child.

In other words, the cyclist is being made an example of. I’m no psychologist, and in any case it’s difficult to impute motive. But in making a big deal out of this, police seem to be sending a message that, as usual, cyclists need to watch their back. This is particularly pertinent given that the new mayor of Seattle, the new county executive and at least three City Council members are big bike supporters.

This apparent double standard already has resulted in a request from Cascade Bicycle Club’s advocacy director, David Hiller, for a meeting with County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Hiller notes “an issue of perceived bias in the prosecution of motor vehicle offenses,” relating that “of 81 collisions in King County in 2007 that seem to meet the same standard of intent that Mr. Araneta (cyclist defendant who ran into boy) is being held to, none were prosecuted.”

We await with intense interest the response of police and media to the next car-bicycle or car-pedestrian accident in Seattle — the typical one, where the cyclist or walker is the obvious victim. If there’s a new wind blowing through law enforcement, it should show up summarily.

See Cascade Bicycle Club forum comments queue for additional observations.

Can Elected Bike Riders Impel Change We Can Believe In?

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Obama Bikes on November 11, 2009 at 1:55 am

With the election of Mike McGinn as mayor of Seattle and re-election of Council president Richard Conlin, it now looks as though the two most powerful office-holders in the city are, of all things, bike commuters. The third most powerful, newly elected County Executive Dow Constantine, is a bike lover, as is another newcomer, Council member Mike O’Brien, Together they comprise a two-wheeled coalition atop local government unlike any other municipality of Seattle’s size and prominence.

Will it make a difference? And if so, how much?

Conlin’s 12-year tenure, crossover popularity and political capital gained from a resounding victory in last Tuesday’s election have led some to designate him Seattle’s “interim” mayor while McGinn learns the ropes. There may be some truth in the appellation, but we think McGinn’s dedication to civic causes over the years gives him considerable momentum going into the job. And as anyone who has worked with Mike knows, he typically has a pretty good idea going in what he wants to do on any given issue.

We think McGinn’s infamous “flip-flop”— more like a soft-pedal (given his avocation) — actually won the election for him. It didn’t lose him any votes; what were tunnel haters going to do, vote for build-baby-build Mallahan? Instead it won crucial votes from the rule-book set, traditionalist Seattleites who needed a sign from McGinn that he could put aside personal conviction when due process dictated a different track. That said, we still hope Mike finds a way out of the geologic insanity and bottomless money pit of the Deep Bore.

If the tunnel does proceed, cyclists hopefully will benefit from increased surface options in the city. But the big imprint that cycling leadership can leave on the city will involve long-sought integration of bikes into Seattle’s traffic grid and transportation infrastructure. With downtown bike counts continuing to escalate exponentially — the Seattle Bicycle Master Plan calls for tripling the amount of bicycling in Seattle by 2017 — such integration is not only prudent but necessary.

Seattle’s Cascade Bicycle Club and the City will spend much of 2010 developing a 5-year update of the Master Plan. It will be fascinating to watch a transportation blueprint put together with cyclists as equal participants rather than afterthoughts. What might cyclists hope for in a McGinn administration?

Our wish list includes:

Completing Ballard’s “missing link” on the Burke-Gilman Trail. This is under litigation, but there are pressures and bargainings that a McGinn administration can bring to bear to “ameliorate” the process. Let’s git ‘er done guys.

More bike lanes. A recent study showed that bike lanes are safer for cyclists than is competing with cars on streets and highways, and with pedestrians, dogs and strollers on bike paths (although bike-only paths are safer). Yet the city has in crucial corridors moved away from lanes in favor of “sharrows,” or on-pavement arrows indicating that vehicles need to “share” the pavement with bikes.

Sharrows hold some symbolic persuasion. But we feel they’re more a sop than solution. The painted arrows soon wear off. “Shared” lanes invite “dooring” from parked cars. And we all know when push comes to shove who gets shoved out of the right-of-way.

True bike lanes on North 45th Street and on Stone Way should be a high priority. And while you’re at it, on Broadway, Queen Anne Avenue, Rainier and Columbia Way. I’m missing some, I know. North 80th or 85th (McGinn lives up there!). And more. (Check out Page yll of the Master Plan for a graphic of what the ideal bike grid should look like.)

North-south bike corridors are in pretty good shape; east-west needs to be beefed up. Cyclists shouldn’t have to fear for their lives just getting between the city’s main districts. It will mean pinching already heavy car flow on major arterials, but that’s an inconvenient truth of reducing car dependence.

More bike racks. It sounds screwy, but Seattle is running out of places to lock up bikes, particularly downtown. Especially at festivals, conferences and conventions, or grocery and department stores — anywhere large numbers of people converge — not only are existing racks woefully inadequate, even light pole availability becomes scarce. New construction still fails to take increased cycling traffic into account, an example being Trader Joe’s in Ballard. As we’ve noted on several occasions as well, bike racks should not be put in the nether regions of underground or covered parking garages, where theft is easier and the “door-to-door” time advantage and convenience of riding a bike is lost.

Better law enforcement. Cascade will resume its valiant efforts to pass legislation at the state level to improve traffic justice for riders and walkers. Although the state Supreme Court ruled that state law overrides local jurisdictions, police can still give out tickets and otherwise make their presence known when drivers endanger cyclists. There needs to be heightened awareness that cyclists truly do belong on city corridors and do not relinquish the legal system’s protections for street users simply because they are not sitting behind the wheel of a car.

Setting an example. McGinn drew attention during the campaign for commenting how he would change the go-everywhere-by-car policy of gas-guzzling Mayor Greg Nickels. Now’s his chance to show exactly how, and to provide a model for dignitaries everywhere about what it means to reduce four-wheel transport to two.

Bicycle advocacy in city government. We’re no fan of bureaucratic featherbedding, but cyclists have been under-represented in City Hall for so long (even though Nickels improved somewhat) that enhancing their presence at the planning table with a few good administrators would be well worth the salary allocations. Any McGinn/Constantine vision of transportation in Puget Sound that moves commuters out of cars needs to contain huge incentives to go by bike. Mass transit especially should give discounts or other benefits to velo travelers. We need fertile thinking to enter the post-carbon society, and there are a lot of creative bike minds in Seattle that can be tapped by City Hall.

At Cascade, advocacy director David Hiller says the club is looking forward to blue-skying about the future, and to being a driver (so to speak) of policy rather than a check-box constituency to be informed after decisions have been made. Cascade’s tireless efforts to broaden its own identity as well as McGinn’s appeal throughout Seattle, especially among Asian and minority communities, were undoubtedly the difference in the narrow election. The payoff will come with a local political clout rivaled only by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition among urban cycling organizations.

“We’re dreaming the big dreams, all of us, right now,” Hiller said.

Riding to Win

In Bicycle advocacy, Obama Bikes on November 4, 2009 at 8:10 am

They snickered when Mike McGinn started off his campaign by showing up at cycling events with “MIKE BIKES” stickers. How quaint. He’s going after the funny-hats-and-clicky-shoes vote.

It was a startlingly unconventional way to build a base, campaigning in a bike helmet and blazer. But McGinn knew something that cyclists have long suspected: We’re a strong and growing political constituency, just waiting to be galvanized by a candidate who rides.

Cyclists are the statistical equivalency of the old newspaper circulation figure. Back in the day, publishers were fond of noting (especially to advertisers) how the print run was a misleading number. What was more important was that every paper that got printed was read by at least one or two other people besides the purchaser.

Cyclists are smart. They’re committed. They pay attention. They talk and IM and Twitter (and blog!). They cross over into numerous disciplines: Technology, education, graphic design, social work, non-profit organizing, entrepreneurialism and yes, even politics.

They vote. And for every vote they cast, you can count on two or three or more people they’ve influenced voting the same.

We disagree about a lot of things, because we’re fiercely independent. We have to be. You don’t risk your life competing with two-ton behemoths of glass and steel on a daily basis without having a certain self-confidence and belief in knowing what you’re doing.

But when we find out someone else is a cyclist, their stock goes way up. We have an instant bond. We are brothers and sisters in the daily combat of urban traffic. We know there’s a high chance our values will align, if not mirror, our compatriot’s.

We are the classic “cultural creative,” the description sociologist Paul Ray devised for over a quarter of the population. People who represent a commitment to sustainability, environment, health and justice. Cultural creatives also are highly individualistic: They think of themselves as a marginal minority, not a social subset. But taken together, they represent a powerful constituency.

Get them to vote together, and you have a solid numerical bloc from which to build a coalition. Mike McGinn may not yet win the mayor’s race, but he came so far so fast, from such a remote outpost of conventional political thinking, that like Barack Obama he’s shown a whole new path to campaign success.

McGinn was not the only “cycling candidate” in this election who did well. Richard Conlin, the City Council member who commutes to City Hall, and Mike O’Brien and Dow Constantine, both with strong ties to the cycling community, won decisive victories. None made two wheels quite as much of their profile as McGinn, but they are strongly in the camp of improving transportation networks with cycling in mind. And all won rousing endorsements from Seattle’s powerful Cascade Bicycle Club, whose 11,000-plus members make it the nation’s largest local cycling group and whose advocacy work is leading-edge for any membership organization.

Together, especially with McGinn at the helm, they constitute one of the nation’s leading elected cycling blocs. They promise not only to enhance Seattle’s already recognized cycling reputation (aided by Nickels), but to put Seattle at the center of cycling progress and innovation along the lines of Davis CA, Portland OR, Boulder CO and Vancouver BC.

When Cascade held its nose and endorsed Nickels in the primary, and I went off on my blog, McGinn told me he wasn’t worried. “We’re the only candidate in this space,” he said. As alacritous as it seemed at the time, he was right: For all the good work Mayor Greg Nickels did for cycling, he wasn’t one of us. Cyclists and their circle wouldn’t vote for Nickels and McGinn knew it.

We got the word out on our email lists and the blogosphere and Twitterdom. Everyone who asked me who to vote for mayor got a Full Monty of why Mike was right (and Mallahan was lame). I’ve not always agreed with McGinn and have even had run-ins with him in the past. But I know at core he stands, er, rides, in the same space I do and has the same goals.

McGinn may not win. But we think he will. The political polling system, and the vast network of bloviating analysts and pundits who somehow think they have credibility because their name gets displayed under them when they yap, have yet to figure out how to calculate the Obama Effect. They don’t know how to measure tweets. They can’t count under-40 voters on their cell phones (who don’t have land lines). They still think Downtown Business dictates elections.

When a race is close in the polls, the cultural creative has a huge advantage. His constituency is entirely unmeasured.

Funny hats and noisy shoes. McGinn was onto something.

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