Cruising and Schmoozing with the Mayor Elect

This morning I suddenly found myself chatting up the mayor-elect of my city.

Jerry Nabours showed up for the commuter ride that kicks off our local Bike to Work Week in Flagstaff, Arizona.

I knew it was Jerry Nabours because strapped to the frame of his Huffy single-speed cruiser he had a one of his campaign signs.

Jerry Nabours

I congratulated him on his recent electoral success, and told him about a fabulous Web site for bike commuters published from the very city over which he will soon preside.

I hadn’t planned on a political schmooze this morning, so I kind of winged it. I was slightly self-conscious about my Ridekick Powered Trailer, which is starting to look like the tailgate of a Prius station wagon in Berkeley.

Ted's Ridekick Powered Bike Trailer

Nabours is a Republican who ran on a platform of a fiscal conservatism. Hopefully I wasn’t pegged as a hippie before I’d ever opened my mouth.

Crap. I wore sandals today too.

Well, during the course of the ride he had lots of opportunities to ditch me and talk to the other cyclists. I wasn’t trying to buttonhole the poor man. We pretty much talked the whole time. He seemed interested in my experience lobbying Congress — something he’ll probably be doing eventually. I told him that the message I’ve taken to meetings in Congress (twice now) is about the local economic benefits of cycling. I told him that I moved to Flagstaff only after learning that it was a bike friendly community — that the city would have at least one less voter/homeowner/taxpayer if not for the efforts the city has made — and continues to make — to encourage biking and walking.

As I was telling him that I work for a local business in the cycling industry with worldwide reach, well look, there was the entrepreneur himself with his baby daughter standing by the side of the road — taking my picture as I took his. Couldn’t have planned that better.

Josh, Ted, and Jerry

Maybe Nabours will even remember me the next time we meet.

I’ll have plenty of fiscal-conservative cycling fodder for him. I’ll be ready.

Here’s partial reading list:

He might not need this information at all. Maybe he’s on board. I just met the guy. After all, he participated in today’s bike commute.

But when I see him again, I’ll try not to be in sandals.

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24 thoughts on “Cruising and Schmoozing with the Mayor Elect”

  1. Tom Bowden says:

    Wear your suit – the one you told me about.

  2. mwmike says:

    He’s a Republican. When it comes down to the interests of millionaires, billionaires, and corrupt corporations vs. revenue invested in biking and public transportation, his Huffy will go back into storage. I hope I’m wrong, but Republicans are on record denying global warming and failing to protect the environment.

    1. Ted Johnson says:

      mwmike: I hope you’re wrong too. But if your cartoon caricature of a Republican is accurate, it’s good to know that there are fiscally sound reasons to support cycling at the municipal level that don’t rely on an acceptance of global warming, and a desire to protect the environment.

      There are pro-business, pro-revenue reasons that might not stir the passions of a liberal, but they achieve the same goals. That’s part of the beauty of cycling.

  3. We’ll see whether or not he supports continued funding the urban trail system, which allows so many Flagstaff cyclists to safely and efficiently travel around town by bike and thus reduce their auto related expenses. Given that we wants to get rid of affordable housing in Flagstaff I don’t have much confidence that he’ll support efforts at alternative transportation. But maybe I’ll be proved wrong.

  4. David W. says:

    Hi Ted
    I first want to state I am a Republican and a conservative, I do not believe in global waming because I took meterology in college and what is happening is climite change which is natural (every 30 years the planet goes from hot to cold to hot, there are cold decades and centuries and hot decades and centuries, the atmosphere needs this to keep the air circulating to keep the earth alive, this is cyclical) not man-made, if government can’t fix the budget how can it fix the envronment? So much for my tirade, the conservatives are not your enemy, both Republicans and Tea-partiers know that big government (Federal) can not fix anything, all problems are local and can only be fixed locally where the people have the power not mindless bureaucrats who can’t think. The way it was suppose to be the Federal takes care of the interstate, the State it’s highways, and locally the roads. The mindset of the people must change also, for the last 60 years or so the people were told that they need a car, we must show them that bicycles are viable, there going to be a time when there will be no oil and walking and cycling will be the only solution, so preparation beforehand (that means now) is wise. The roads are for everybody, so lets share. So lets be responsible, economical, and have some tax-free fun, go ride a bike.

  5. Graham says:

    Even in my few years, I’ve discovered that it is FAR easier to get a person to see reason rather than a thing.

    Individuals can be persuaded, but things like political parties or corporations never will. If you’re going to sway the mayor-elect, you need to bend his ear. Stand in front of him and look him in the eye.

    I’m sure that your conversation with him sent exactly the right message, bumper stickers, sandals, and erudite conversation.

  6. David W. says:

    Oh, I forgot the most important thing, gawd I’m getting old, the important thing is that in all states the bicycle is considered a vehicle, the federal government consider it a toy, lets get congress to change the definition, that is why most Republican will not support bicycles because the government says its a toy and who wants to pay for someone elses toy. Also get off the envronment, they stop listening because it is a political talking point, instead push that bicycles are benificial to all taxpayers, infrastructure and upkeep will cost less and the people will pay less taxes in the long run, talk to them at their level, not as an opponent but as friend.

  7. Karen says:

    I have to agree w/ Graham’s last remark. When we present ourselves as credible representatives of a cause, someone those of the other side of the fence can relate to, we are much more effective in getting the message across. Bumper stickers usually speak to the most extreme ends of both political parties and activists can often be their own worst enemy.

  8. Karen says:

    David, I took meterology in college too but as I was an art major I’m not qualified to speak with any expertese on climate change However, I do believe human activity contributes to it (along with the cyclical factors you refer to). The National Science Academies of the G8 nations issued a joint statement a few years ago urging nations to man made climate change through their policies. You can copy and past the address below to take a look at it.

    That said, I strongly agree with your point about speaking to conservatives about transportation cycling from the perspective that matters to them. I believe Tom Bowden wrote a very intelligent commentary on that very topic that was reposted on CbB.

  9. BluesCat says:

    My, my, where to begin?

    Tom – If Ted’s suit doesn’t have 3″ lapels, a la the “Leisure Suit Plaid Stallions” of the 70’s and 80’s (the time warp most Republicans are caught in), then he needs to swing by the closest Goodwill.

    mwmike – Uh, oh. Sounds like something BluesCat would write!

    Karen – Once again, guys, the lady has it right.

    David W. – Global warming IS happening, even if it IS only on a cyclical, mere century — or measly 30-year — basis. The problem is even if you want to be in denial about whether man is the root CAUSE of it, nobody can deny that man’s activities ARE screwing up the Earth’s thermostat; the ultimate CONTROL for those cycles. And if you mess with it too much, the Earth will wind up like an automobile engine with a too-high, or broken, thermostat: a smoking, worthless hunk of metal.

    If the U.S. federal government were too scrawny, it wouldn’t be able to keep the big corporations honest or keep the fiefdoms known as “The States” in line. It is the big, brawny American Feds who (1) created the Interstate Highway System, without which the only 4-lanes roads we’d have would be from-Rich-Guy’s-House-to-Rich-Guy’s-House-in-the-Richest-States, (2) made BP pay to rehab the American coastline in the Gulf of Mexico, and (3) has insisted that bicycles be considered “important transportation,” in spite of the Rich Guys at the heads of Walmart and Sears putting them in their Toy Departments.

    Graham – Yup.

    Hippie Ted – (chuckle) Hey! I got another restaurant I wanna write an article about! (he, he, he) Two Hippies Gnarly Burger Joint! Stand by!

  10. JaimeRoberto says:

    I’ve posted before that bike trails are a local issue. Stop lobbying Congress for federal funds and start (or continue) lobbying this guy or whomever your mayor is.

  11. BluesCat says:

    JaimeRoberto – “Lobbying Congress for federal funds”? Phoenix does the vast majority of its freeways, and ALL of its local roads, with extra local taxes. (I just heard all the Republicans in the audience go apoplectic.) Lookee here: Sidewalk Salmoning: It’s The Law.

    As you can see in the above article, part of the problem with a policy of “just say ‘NO’!” to federal funds is the “local government culture” may be “owned” by Rich Guys of the “Transportation Means CARS” persuasion. Having an extra hook by including bicycle infrastructure, paid for by the Feds at 95%, can mean the difference between having decent biking infrastructure and having none … at ALL!

  12. Karen says:

    Much local funding actually originates at the federal level in the form of grants and earmarks that local government applies for and lobbies for. Local governments have little in the way of discretionary monies and it’s been this way for the last decade. The wars in the Middle East sapped funding from social services and those responsibilities increasingly fell upon the shoulders of municipalities. In Louisville occupational taxes have been decreasing for years while the demand for services increased or remained the same. We’ve also got state legislatures trying to dictate to municipalities what they can and cannot tax or up on a ballet to let voters decide. The state legislatures, including in AZ, are attempting to sweep revenues that are supposed to be directed to voter approved purposes or to be returned back to cities and towns, in order to resolve their own budget shortfalls at the state level. The AZ State Legislature is not especially sympathetic to bike infrastructure or alternative transportation in general.

  13. Tim Sherman says:

    As a kid growing up in Oregon reading Ranger Rick magazine I was a big fan of Tom McCall. He was the Republican govenor that made conservation cool before environmentalists hit the stage. Tom McCall is the father of conservation that I hope can carry on in the Pacific Northwest. He pioneered conservation in the USA before Californians moved on anti-nukes and took hold of the focus on a newly created environmental movement. Cycling should not be a partisan campaign issue used to get an incubent reelected it should be a way to get to work on a bike. I hope that Jerry Nabours is a guy that wears sandal also.

  14. Chuck says:

    Cycling? Why does it have to be a partisan issue? It’s wise for a long list of reasons. Health, environment, and economics are just a start.

    Climate change? Well, just about very major scientific body in the world recognizes human industry as a cause. it shouldn’t be a partisan issue either.

  15. Joel says:

    Let’s talk economics and bicycles:

    The United States has been identified as having an obesity epidemic. Diabetes is skyrocketing, even in children. A recent study said that 2 out of 3 cancer cases in older patients are caused by being overweight or smoking or a combination of the two. The federal and state budgets cite medical reimbursements and costs growing at a rate much higher than inflation.

    Oil is a finite resource subject to market influences. Countries have gone to war and will continue to go to war in order to secure vital resources to their economies.

    Encouraging bicycle commuting can address these problems. Exercise is built into the bicycle commute and does not have to be associated with a specific effort to get to the gym. Bicycles can reduce fuel consumption by replacing a 3000 lb vehicle with a 38 pound vehicle. Bicycles can be the bridge between the home and first bus stop.

    Bicycles are not the specific end-all or panacea for our medical costs or fuel costs. Not all commuters can use bikes for their commute but we must encourage those that can as much as possible as it saves money for all taxpayers. A quad-bypass for a heart patient can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. In many cases, the operation cannot be done because the patient must lose weight.

    Do you really think we would have cared about Irag invading Kuwait if Kuwait did not have oil that we needed? Invasions cost money and maintaining a military to be ready for such an invasion cost money.

    Let’s spend some taxpayer money now on bicycle commuting infrastructure. I would wish that we never go to war over resources when other viable alternatives are available.

    I do want to go to war against diabetes, cancers, and obesity. The weapons are in our garages and they are silent, cheap, and plentiful: bicycles.

  16. Tom Bowden says:

    MWMIKE, happy to say that your assumptions about Republicans are not only not right, in fact, they are, in the words of Nobel laureate Wolfgang Pauli, “not even wrong.” The notion that all Republicans think one way and all Democrats think another is so absurd that it’s really not worth trying to refute. The list of corrupt politicians who cater to moneyed interests and believe weird things is long and distinguished and you will find that all party affiliations, creeds, races and genders are well represented. In my view, there are those who think about issues, and those who do not, and of course, there are shades of grey in between. I will happily debate any issue with anyone who will think about it and consider the possibility that they might have to change their mind. What I try to avoid is trading generalized insults based on caricatures of the positions of others. I’d rather watch this instead:

  17. Jeff Gardner says:

    Tom, terrific as usual. Yes, the broad-brush labels and inaccuracies that frequently creep into this forum are sad and dis-spiriting to say the least.

    I’ll underscore your comments on discourse and raise you one. Firstly, just about 100% of better thinking is the result of listening closely to someone else. At least it is for me. Wish I could say that I was born with all brilliant ideas, but I wasn’t. Secondly, just about 100% of those better ideas initially sounded foreign, strange, or even downright bizarre. Thirdly, just about 100% of better ideas never become common thinking until too late. Fourthly, its human nature to believe that where any of us are in our journey is the near-culmination of perfect knowledge already, so that courting change is threatening. Sadly, this phenomena is not limited to that golden age of 18, when I was sure I knew it all.

    IMHO, decisions to bike are not about biking. They are a quality reflection of a process far more broad than questions of getting from here to there. As far as this part of the equation is concerned, people at this forum are light years ahead.

    Thanks again, Tom.

  18. BluesCat says:

    Tom & Jeff – While I would agree that painting individuals with an overly broad character label is a cartoonist’s world view, I don’t think applying those same labels to political groups is silly at all.

    If you hear a guy say that bicycles are not serious transportation, and shouldn’t receive Federal dollars from the transportation fund, I bet you could say he’s a Republican and be right so much of the time … if this were Vegas, you’d walk away from the table a millionaire.

  19. Jeff Gardner says:

    As much as we here have a reverence for bike travel Blues, it’s looking through rose-colored glasses to believe that 90% + of the American electorate would say that bikes are serious transportation or that Fed dollars should pay for their infrastructure. Bump that question to how many people would resist having THEIR scarce tax dollars going to such things and the percentage surely jumps well past 90%. Those people are Demopublicans, Blues. The blame game pointed one direction or the another is wishful scapegoating.

    For the record, I am not a Republican.

    The dis-spiriting part I mentioned above is not differences of opinion amongst Republocrats. It is that where disagreement exists, a viciousness exists, even in this forum, that paints others who disagree as sub-human amoeba. We, you and I, have been down this road before.

  20. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – If 90%+ of the American electorate believes bikes aren’t serious transportation, it simply proves the second part of Lincoln’s Truism:

    “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

    Bicycles have been considered serious transportation all over the world, for decades, and eventually Americans will see the logic in it, too, and then the THIRD part of Lincoln’s Truism will kick in. And THEN it’ll be woe to all of you Republicans and Pseudo-Republicans and Rich Republican Wannabes still stuck in the Fossil Fuel Age.

    I tell you what, Jeff, if you are dismayed by what you perceive as hostility and viciousness here on CbB … Wow … Don’t ever attend a Town Hall put on by a Democratic congressman that has been infiltrated by some Guerrilla Tea Party-ers. That’s when you’d see some REAL inaccuracies and hostilities and viciousness!

    At least the editors of CbB don’t shout you down or shut you up!

  21. Jeff Gardner says:

    Blues, I’m glad you have found a home in a political party whose vast majority of members and affiliates you believe will spend their money to fund bicycle infrastructure. And who, apparently, engage no oppressive actions to mock or silence people who disagree with them. Unfortunately, ole Blue’s enlightenment is rare, and has not sold the overwhelming majority of Americans who today don’t yet think highly of bicycle travel. Lincoln, and all of our better wishes, notwithstanding.

    You opened the door for me to mention Ted Johnson. He once facilitated and followed a discussion with which he (surely) violently disagreed. His action was to listen, then to reach out to try to verify the subject one way or the other. He seemed willing to be right — and willing to be wrong and learn better information if that was what was required. Someone willing to teach AND to learn, wherever the best information leads, sure has earned credibility and my respect. Let’s all be grateful that he is here.

  22. BluesCat says:

    Jeff – I’ll toast to that. With a good beer!

  23. doodleblock says:


    1. The US Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed into law by Ike Eisenhower, a Republican.
    2. Why is BP(British Petroleum) right off our coast drilling our local oil? Perhaps our “big brawnies” ought to consider allowing us to drill the oil ourselves to ensure that it is done in a more ecologically conscious manner.
    3. What is your source on this insistence? The feds cannot tell retail corporations what department to place their products.

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