I want to thank everyone who wrote complimentary and encouraging comments in response to my last post about Taking a Break from Over the Bars. It is rewarding to get confirmation that readers appreciated me sharing my thoughts. It was also nice to get some understanding about the time commitment required to produce a post with substance on a daily basis. A number of comments included the suggestion I post less frequently.
Even if I was relieved of the pressure to publish every day, many of the other reasons why I quit publishing remain unresolved. Chief among those are the vagaries of my feelings about the community of people who ride bicycles in Milwaukee after some of the comments I received after the last election. I’m honestly no longer sure if the majority of people who ride bicycles in Milwaukee support spending money to add more trails, bike lanes or other facilities. I thought they did before the election, but politics have become so divisive that I’m no longer sure.
To review, I started Over the Bars because I saw shops in other US cities devoted to selling european city bikes (like the Dutch omafiet) and wondered if we couldn’t have a similar bike shop in Milwaukee. I started Over the Bars to spread the word that riding a bike in Milwaukee is a really safe, fun and healthy thing to do. I started Over the Bars to try to encourage more women to ride bicycles. I read blogs written by women and men in other cities promoting riding bicycles in skirts and heels and suits and ties and thought Milwaukee should have a similar voice promoting the idea that you can ride your bike in the same clothes you drive a car.
Perhaps it was hubris, but I honestly thought that all I had to do was to introduce these ideas to the lycra-clad people pedalling around Milwaukee on drop-bar racing bikes and in no time everyone would be sitting upright, riding omafiets in Luboutin heels and Armani suits. I confess that I have been frustrated almost to the point of anger that so many of my fellow cyclists patently reject these ideas.
While spreading the euro velo philosophy was my original mission, the posts on Over the Bars have strayed beyond city bikes and cyclechic in the same way my thoughts wander as I ride around Milwaukee. I have reviewed cycling products, defended spending on bicycle infrastructure, analyzed mode share statistics, tried to make cycling look attractive through photographs, etc. Most of these other topics have been well received by the readers. I guess I lost sight of that bigger picture (and my cool) when my expectations were not met about a few issues.
I still passionately believe that practical bikes and riding in regular clothes (along with attractive bicycle facilities) are the keys to attracting more people to cycling for transportation and increasing the diversity among people who ride. I still feel Milwaukee cyclists need a forum to read about and discuss bicycle planning issues. I still think we need to encourage more women in Milwaukee to try riding bicycles for transportation. And I still need an outlet for my thoughts as I pedal through the Cream City.
Since I still feel strongly about these ideas and because of the positive feedback I got, I have decided to re-enter the blogosphere, albeit with different expectations. While I have come to accept that cyclechic is not going to spread through the Milwaukee bicycling community like wildfire, my helmet-mantra chanting, lycra-clad readers be forewarned: I will still promote Dutch-style bikes and the joys of riding in fedoras and vintage suits thrifted at the Value Village. The same followers may want to stop reading if it sounds like I am about to wax poetic about the day when hordes of women in tall heels and short skits can be seen riding around Milwaukee on heavy black bikes with fenders.
But I will also write about the simple joys of riding a bicycle, for any reason. I will review practical bicycles and products that make going places on two wheels easier. I will write about costumed pub crawls as well as wonky transportation planning meetings. I will share the view from over my handle bars of what Milwaukee looks like now and what it might look like in the future if we all work together.
Thanks again to all the readers who left kind comments whether you agree with everything I write or not. Special thanks to Jason Capriotti for noting that during a recent discussion in which quite a few people disagreed with me, everyone remained civil and polite. A small thing, but for some reason that comment helped me see the bigger picture.
At this point I can’t say with what regularity I will publish, it is too soon to know. I’m not the same person I was when I started Over the Bars last Memorial Day, but maybe that’s OK. Change is part of any journey worth taking.
Talk to you soon,