I recently posted an article on JustAnotherCyclist.com that was less than favorable of my local bicycle advocacy group. My primary complaint in that post was about the constant stream of cycling death and injury stories, and how I felt they were not the appropriate way to advocate for, and gain political influence in favor of, cycling issues.
Someone contacted me to address what they felt was a bit of hypocrisy in my post. I can see their point and wanted to take a moment to publicly address this issue.
For those that don’t know, JustAnotherCyclist.com and VeloReviews.com are very much connected. The story of that connection is long and winding, but suffice it to say that I (Ross Del Duca) am editor and primary writer of original content for both sites.
The concern regarding the JustAnotherCyclist post stems from an apparent contradiction with the content that is presented on VeloReviews. One of the things we do here at VeloReviews is share excerpts of some other cycling related blogs. One of the excellent blogs we share is Biking In LA.
Biking In LA – as the name implies – is a cycling blog geographically centered in Los Angeles, CA. Blogger Ted Rogers (twitter: @bikinginla) focuses primarily on the “hard news” side of cycling. Among his coverage of legal, legislative and advocacy issues you will find frequent reporting on accidents involving cyclists – the vast majority of which involve death or significant injury.
I’m sure you can see the commenter’s concern here:
How can you [complain] about stuff about cycling death when your other website is full of the same thing?
It is a valid question. And despite the commenters claims of this making me a hypocrite, I actually don’t think it does. Here’s why:
JustAnotherCyclist.com is my personal blog. As such it is mostly full of editorial content. Editorial content, by definition, represents the opinions of the author, or the publication the author represents. Often sarcastic and snarky, JustAnotherCyclist.com is quite obviously biased to my opinions. That is the whole point of the website. VeloReviews.com, on the other hand, is intended to be representative of the cycling community as a whole. As such, there are many out there that have very different opinions from me. While I may not share Ted’s particular view of the cycling world, I respect his perspective and I’m happy to help share his viewpoints on VeloReviews.com
JustAnotherCyclist.com is written primarily focused on the San Francisco Bay Area. It is an area that, in my opinion, is actually very ridable on a bike. Biking In LA is focused on an area that traditionally has NOT been real bike friendly. That means the tools and tactics necessary in that region are not necessarily the same as those needed in my neck of the woods.
The original JustAnotherCyclist.com post was about why I was choosing not to renew my membership ($$) in a particular advocacy group. It was a critique of what they were saying and how they were saying it. It was not a critique of their right to say it. I have referenced San Francisco Bicycle Coalition materials in VeloReviews articles in the past, and I’m sure I will in the future. Again, VeloReviews is intended to be as unbiased and objective a representation of the cycling community as a whole as is possible. JustAnotherCyclist is decidedly different.
All of these blogs (Biking In LA, VeloReviews and JustAnotherCyclists) are essentially written for cyclists to read. While we would all hope that some non-cyclist or anti-cyclist will read our stuff and have an epiphany, I doubt that any of us really expect that. The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, on the other hand, has positioned themselves as the voice and representation of cycling in San Francisco. As such the dialog they engage in needs to be tailored to a much more varied audience. Their message should be tailored to help foster pro-cycling feelings, while us cycling blogs are assumed to already have an audience that is pro-cycling.
Finally, at the end of the day my goal with all of the blogs I work with is to foster conversations (even arguments) about topics important to cycling. If presenting two opposing perspectives for consideration by the cycling population helps foster those discussions, then all the better. Hopefully these discussion will help me bolster my opinions that seem right, and reject my opinions where evidence proves them wrong.
After all, it won’t be the first time I’ve written an opinion that I later came to disbelieve.