A Few Thanks

I’m not the sentimental type, but as I reflect on what I have to be thankful for, the list loomed large.

So may I start with a few, like Luciano Gonzales for insisting that I subscribe to his blahblaFreddie blog. Check it out, if you dare. It’s some of the zaniest commentary I see on cycling; it’s very well done. And while I’m thinking of Long Beach there are so many to mention: John Case and Andrea White of Bikestation can always be counted on for a referral to a great interview subject. I remember when I first approached Andrea and through email she attempted to connect me with an interview subject in Portland; when it fell through I thanked her for the effort — her reply, “I’m not done yet.” She kept at it until I did get a super interview. Recently, John connected me to Jeff Selzer at Palo Alto Bikes.

Martin Howard and Allan Crawford have been so patient and giving over the past year. They invited me to contribute to their efforts at Bikeable Communities and after all this time I feel I’ve taken more than I’ve given. Like many advocates in Long Beach they’re ahead of us; they’ve confronted the challenges and know how to affect change. Their advice has made a difference as I attempt to influence city leaders locally on cycling safety issues.

Much of what’s on this site started with Long Beach Mobility Coordinator Charlie Gandy. Would he sit with me for an interview? I was pleased to learn of his willingness to share and educate. We’ve spent hours together; me listening, Charlie advocating on the process of change, the ways to experiment with roadway designs, and being a leader. I met Alexis Lantz, Planning and Policy Director of the LABC, at Charlie’s August BBQ party. Months later, she would make make the connections and provide the nudge to get me on a panel discussion at the recent CA Bike Summit in Los Angeles. And thanks to WomenOnBikes‘ Melissa Balmer who sat in on my presentation in LA and offered a compliment for my podcasts to a skeptical audience.

While visiting Tucson earlier this year, Desert Angels‘ President Curtis Gunn insisted I interview Richard DeBernardis of Perimeter Cycling. I had no idea what I was in for, and after riding Richard’s 29th El Tour de Tucson last weekend, I am very grateful for this connection to a great man and a wonderful organization. El Tour hat trick: congratulations to Curtis for winning the 60-mile ride; he can add this to his first place finishes in the 109-mile and 85-mile races of prior years.

Thanks to Pedaling Revolution author Jeff Mapes for making the introduction to Alta Planning’s Mia Birk. To Ted Rogers at BikingInLA for so many links in the weekly posts that I imagine everyone in LA follows. Getting named in his blog will always make my day.

To my fellow advocates, Matt O’Toole, Dan Murphy, John Tzinberg and David Huntsman, who came together at bikeNewportBeach.org. It’s a lot less lonely with their support and collective efforts.

To all the staff at Two Wheels One Planet who have taught me a lot over the past few years and who keep me going; they helped me prepare the bike for the Erie Canal. To Elliot Gordon who organizes monthly rides into Santiago Canyon and in June led a group south to San Diego; this was my first inter-modal ride with the bike on AMTRAK for the ride home — a ride I’ve done several times since. Elliot, who I’ve known for 8 years, but never in a cycling context, has been very patient with me as I struggled up Torrey Pines hill, and most every other hill on these rides; he’s made me a stronger cyclist. And to my brother-in-law, Lou Doctor, who sent me in this direction in the first place when I complained of my high cholesterol numbers and a life-long struggle to lose weight: “We’ve got to get you on a bike,” was all it took.

When things look gloomy here in Newport Beach I find comfort looking south to Laguna Beach and Les Miklosy’s Complete Streets Committee; he’s making a difference in a community with many challenges to safe cycling. Pete Van Nuys has taught me how to be a competent bike rider; I’ve taken his Traffic Skills 101 course twice now and I needed it. I had forgotten more than a few techniques in the 34 years I’d been off the bike. Pete got me on my first fold-up bike and now I see so many ways to combine a train or bus with the bike — I’m able to extend my range and stay out of the car.

Thanks to Mayor Pro-Tem Nancy Gardner for her efforts in galvanizing support for safe cycling within the City. There are many Bike Safety Committee meetings with the City Manager and the Police Chief in attendance. All bike advocates suggest the same key for success: It takes commitment from the top to affect real change. In Newport Beach we’re off to an encouraging, if slow, start.

My most thankful thoughts go to my editor at CoronadelMarToday, Amy Senk. She offered me a weekly column on Cycling Safety a little over a year ago, and at the time I did not appreciate this opportunity as I do now. After nearly 60 Saturday’s I now realize that I have been given a platform to reach out beyond the cycling enthusiasts that frequent my blog where I’m preaching to the choir. To get the slings and arrows, and the occasional atta-boys from my followers here in Corona del Mar has been very meaningful to me. Along the way I’ve become a better writer and I’ve learned a bit about engaging a critical audience. Bottom line, I’ve become a better advocate. It’s with some irony that Amy doesn’t ride a bike, but her commitment to chasing a good story and her willingness to share the spotlight with her audience are very precious gifts indeed. With luck, it’s my access to the community at large through her site that may have the most impact on making real changes to the car-centric focus that’s so prevalent across the Southland, and here in CdM, too.

And lastly, a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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