Momentum Magazine, Green Lane Project: Hello?

The online blog of Momentum Magazine posted the photo below to illustrate an article titled “Support for Better Biking is Strong.

Warm and fuzzy is clearly the intention — father and young child riding on a magic carpet, car-free and carefree. We should all transport ourselves to better biking and a better future, on such magic carpets.

Momentum Magazine posted this photo provided by the Green Lane Project. Warm and fuzzy?

Momentum Magazine posted this photo provided by the Green Lane Project. Warm and fuzzy?

Hello, hello, reality check: the carpet  is of leaves — much of it deep enough to hide a pothole or debris which would launch a cyclist over the handlebars.

Sorry to have to say this about this but a few years ago, a well-liked, recently retired colleague of my wife’s put his front wheel into a hole hidden under leaves and landed on his head. He died.

Nobody can tell us why he was riding there, but most people who have spent much time on a bicycle have learned one way or another to avoid riding through a carpet of leaves — or anywhere they can’t see what is about to be supporting the bicycle’s tires.

Doesn’t anybody at Momentum Magazine have the good sense, or experience, or authority, to nix a photo like this, or do they just not care?

Actually, I know that they don’t care. I submitted comments — much more gentle than these — on the magazine’s blog post. My comments were quickly removed.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into this situation.  The article is a puff piece reflecting the bicycle industry’s astroturf polling campaign. The magazine credits the Green Lane Project with the photo. The bicycle industry funds the Green Lane project to promote bikeways separate from motor traffic, with the goal of getting more people to buy bicycles.

How could this photo advance that agenda? Or, scarier to think, what if it actually does? What if  most readers of Momentum Magazine  don’t know any better? What if they are so caught up in a magic carpet agenda that they can mentally sweep the carpet of leaves aside?

Does the Green Lane crew think that leaves add a nice homey touch — and look, people also ride outside the peak summer season! Or maybe Green Lane doesn’t care either, in which case, just how low can these people stoop to portray bicycling as completely mindless and carefree,  as long as it is also car-free?

The shopping bag next to the spokes of the man’s front wheel doesn’t make me feel any better. I could say something about a parent’s setting an example, but then I don’t want to start a helmet war.

Enough for now. I’m going to deconstruct the photo shoot,  in a separate blog post. I know where that photo was taken. I’ve been there.

I’m also going to look into just why anyone thought that the USA needs another bicycle magazine, especially one which publishes material like this. Stay tuned.

19 Responses to Momentum Magazine, Green Lane Project: Hello?

  1. Who funds Momentum Magazine, John? Never occurred to me to ask, but is there something here we don’t know?

    BTW, its out of British Columbia, not the USA.

    • I don’t know anything yet. I have my suspicions, the editorial stance of the magazine being so relentlessly in favor of separate bicycle facilities. Printed copies of magazines generally include information about the publisher. I tried to pick a copy up at a local bike shop a few days ago but there were no copies on the rack.

      • The bike co-op/shop where I volunteer (in British Columbia) used to get stacks for free to distribute, so we had plenty. About a year ago they stopped giving them without us asking, so we don’t generally have them anymore.

  2. I posted an anti-bike-lane comment just to see if they would allow it. Interestingly, it appears they did. Now I’ll wait for the inevitable comments about how I’m old, out of touch and a fanatical devotee of the discredited “religion” of vehicular cycling.

  3. Cheryl Longinotti

    Regardless of one’s opinion of “safe and separate” facilities, the picture highlights the necessity of maintenance — a frequently neglected aspect of infrastructure. Money flows for infrastructure design and construction but local jurisdictions are on their own for maintenance.

    • Cheryl, you’re right. I’ll be addressing the maintenance issue in my next post. It isn’t only an issue of maintenance: it’s one of design such that maintenance is practical — or on the other hand, “build it and let them figure it out later.”

  4. Apparently, LAB now offers Momentum instead of Buycycling to members, although you might have to be an elevated level of member, i.e., write a bigger check. I bought a couple copies of Mo magazine at a local boutique patronized by a hipster crowd. Interesting, but as you say, relentlessly and uncritically facility oriented.

  5. Ms. Longinotti, I left that exact comment on the Momentum web page. If those leaves were wet from a rain, that bike lane might be protected from other traffic, but certainly not from the banana peel effect.

  6. I agree with everything you have said about the photo. I do generally like the idea of Momentum magazine in that I think it gets women interested and included in cycling. Most bike magazines are men oriented and devoid of women riding bikes. I do agree Momentum and most bike magazines are facility oriented. My question is what can we do to turn the tide on this? In Charlotte, NC there is a new Transportation Alternatives group forming and I’m sure facilities will be a big focus. I want to support the group but not the infrastructure. What can we do as a group to promote bike riding (without the facilities that are in most cases not ideally implemented)?

    • Pamela — I don’t know whether you are following the Cyclists are Drivers group on Facebook, or checking in with the CommuteOrlando Web site, but those would be good places to start. Also note that you have allies in North Carolina. You will find them through the facebook group.

  7. Since the MOMENTUM article now has comments that have not been removed, I wonder whether you might re-post yours there–or perhaps here?

  8. Contact information and details about the ownership of Momentum Mag are posted directly on the website. To make it even easier for you, my email address is used to leave this comment. Drop me a line and I can tell you why North America is responding positively and supporting a magazine like Momentum Mag.

    • More useful would be an answer posted here for all to read and, may I suggest, an answer posted in response to the intelligent comments that were posted to the magazine’s article. You might include a explanation of why those comments were removed.

      • The comments were deleted as they were (much like the above post) concern trolling. This group is simply fishing for controversy where it does not exist. There’s no conspiracy here, just zero tolerance for ill intent.

        • Though I am not a part of “this group,” thank you for that useful response. Can you also expand on, as you suggested you could, “why North America is responding positively and supporting a magazine like Momentum Mag?”

  9. Seems the comments have disappeared from the Mo article–again.

  10. Mr. Hurd’s comments are simply an inelegant form of ad hominem argument. Rather than refute the comment, Hurd attacks the person, calling us trolls. That is not only inelegant, but blatantly dishonest.

  11. Informative, on the question about why the image is constructed the way it is: http://momentummag.com/features/what-it-takes-to-sell-biking-to-north-americans/ (also from Duncan Hurd).

    • “We don’t need to do anything to reinforce people about the dangers of bicycling,” said Jeff Miller, CEO of the Washington, DC-based Alliance for Biking and Walking. “There’s already a bias way stronger than reality about how safe or dangerous bicycling is.”

      Seems the message is more important than the reality.

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