Monday, July 28, 2014

Kickstarting Cures for Ailing Organizations

If you’ve ever run a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll know why I've been so distracted these last few weeks getting ready for this!

We've launched a campaign to raise funds for publishing our next book, Cures for Ailing Organizations. I know it sounds a bit off topic, but really it isn’t. This book is written for anyone who knows the heartbreak of watching a great organization die. Unfortunately, that includes lots of bicycle organizations.

I wrote this book from my 40 years of experience working for nonprofits and social enterprises in the fields of animal rights, environment, special populations, and, of course, bicycle advocacy. I shaped it around my emergency medical response training because organizations are surprisingly like living organisms. And like organisms they can be revived to thrive once again.

The book is complete. Now we need your help to make it available to organizations around the world. Funding through Kickstarter is meant to cover the costs of final layout, print and ebook publication, and worldwide distribution.

Kickstarter operates on an all-or-nothing basis. If the funding goal is not reached in August, we will receive nothing and will not have the means to publish this book. Every pledge counts toward that goal. The Kickstarter campaign will last only through August.

Secure your early copy by contributing today at by searching “Cures for Ailing Organizations.” You can also go directly to the campaign with this link:

Another way you can help is to forward the link to your friends. Emailing it, posting it to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn groups would be a huge boost for the campaign because the more it spreads the more likely we are to connect with the people who care about a book like this.

We’ve only got one month to reach the goal!

Thanks in advance for all your help!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How Low-Income Commuters View Cycling

This article in today’s CityLab issue covers some very interesting topics. I found even more good points in the comments section including several that emphasized access to affordable, durable bikes as an important
part of the solution.

I bristled a bit while reading the article because it focuses on a survey taken in areas of DC where a majority of residents happen to be African American. The authors use generalities like “Our study showed that African Americans were statistically more likely...” Statements like this are easily taken out of context and promote improper perceptions. Even some of the comments make the assumption that the topic is about “people of color” rather than people living in or near poverty.

Poverty is not based on ethnicity or skin color even if racism sometimes contributes to poverty. We must be vigilant about keeping these descriptions distinct lest we contribute to racism.

Even so, the article and the survey it covers raise some important issues. If we can get past the unintentional inequality of the writing, it does offer some thought provoking material. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Blog discovery: Invisible Cyclist

I just received a forwarded blog post from a colleague that caused a rescheduling of my morning tasks as I eagerly read through their past posts. The blog is called "Invisible Cyclist," which immediately caught my attention because of my adoration of the article of a similar name, which I highlighted back in May with my post "'Invisible Riders,' a Timeless Article."

I was surprised that I'd never heard of the Invisible Cyclist blog, as it seems to align very nicely with One Street's work for equitable street design as well as the topic of this blog. But scrolling through their previous posts I could see why it had stayed a bit invisible itself--only one post per year in 2012 and 2013. Now I see four posts in the past month. Looks like they might be kicking in!

The blog is indeed inspired by that wonderful article. They focus on street design so far, so not a lot about providing bikes yet. Still, take a look and enjoy their thought process as they and their readers grapple with the many barriers to bicycling for marginalized people.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Appropriate Bicycles

In Defying Poverty with Bicycles I explain why bikes designed for sport and fitted with complex parts are not appropriate for bicycle programs meant to help people who are struggling in poverty.

Sport bikes are fragile, using materials like carbon fiber and lightweight metals that crumble under hard daily use. Their geometry and short wheelbases are designed for quick maneuvers, not transport and certainly not carrying loads. Any shocks, fancy brakes, and other racing gadgets break under hard use leaving such bikes useless.

Steel framed bikes with long wheelbases, durable and replaceable parts, racks and fenders are the basic idea of appropriate bikes for people who depend on them for their daily needs. As an example, here’s a photo of a wonderful Czechoslovakian-made bike I rode around Europe last summer:

 What are your thoughts about appropriate bicycles? Do you know of affordable cargo bikes? Have you had good luck retrofitting sport bikes to become transportation bikes? Please offer your experiences and ideas in the comments box.