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.
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.
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.
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:
- 80 percent of Republicans think Congress should maintain or increase federal funds for biking and walking.
- Real estate values increase as neighborhoods become more walkable and bike-friendly.
- With a tight city budget, transportation investments in cycling infrastructure have a better public cost-benefit than investments for the benefit of motorists.
- When a city creates bike-friendly business districts (with bike racks, parklets, pop-up cafes, etc.) these improvements pay for themselves.
- And of course, “How to Talk about Cycling to a Conservative.”
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.