I had an interesting weekend. Let’s just call it a study in contrasts. On Saturday night I went to a meeting of the Sierra Club because they were throwing a dinner in honor of my father and mother in laws for all the work they’ve done for peace, justice, and the environment.
For decades my in laws had worked behind the scenes in order to make the world a better place and I say good for them.
The dinner had some heavy hitters in attendance, a state Senator, the head of the costal commission, former head of the Sierra Club, members of the Marin County Water District… I felt quite out of place really…
But I couldn’t help but feel there was a certain degree of irony involved with the entire proceedings. The dinner was held in a remote location far away from public transportation, expensive SUVs were parked haphazardly in the parking lot, several of which were careless enough to take up more than one park space with their gas guzzling land yachts, and there was almost no one there who was under the age of thirty.
Not what you’d really expect from one of the most influential environmental groups around.
Then again I stayed the night at my in laws place that backs up against a popular mountain bike destination and the next morning I was supposed to meet a bunch of guys for an early morning ride.
I was fortunate enough that the only thing I had to do was to yank my bike off of my roof rack, suit up then ride my way to the trailhead. After winding my way through a couple of miles of trail I finally make my way to the launch point but wouldn’t you know it there was a whole line of expensive SUVs decked out with roof racks carrying multi thousand dollar bikes all for the opportunity to get outside.
On the surface the group I hooked up with didn’t look that much different than the people whom I had dinner with the previous night, almost every one was over forty and were very, very white.
And therein lies the problem… Both groups are getting older and are having difficulties attracting not only younger people but also people of color and people who don’t occupy upper levels of income brackets too.
My current job enables me to interact with a broader range of people who ride bikes than any other place I had worked at before. We get people who bring in top dollar custom titanium bikes to people who are homeless and all points in between. And I can’t help but think how few of these groups go unrepresented by advocacy groups and how even fewer are represented in ad copy in cycling magazines. It’s also a good bet that the large number of the people whom we service could care less about Fausto, Eddie, Gary, Charile or Joe.
I can’t cry foul because I am as culpable as every one else. I drove to Marin, I didn’t take public transportation, and I live in a comfortable house with a decent level of income. But does that make me a hypocrite? I think in a certain way it does. There are a lot of things I can do to lower my environmental impact – and that’s a long list…
And the bike industry too can only cry foul so much also especially when the industry’s biggest trade show is slated to move from Las Vegas to Anaheim next year. Now, if there was ever a bicycle hostile environment Orange County California is it. Good going guys well planned that.
So before we cap on other groups for not fully living up to their mission statements we have to clean up our back yard too.