Everything is Connected: Opinion by Cyclist Mike Erickson



By Mike Erickson
Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Science
Moraine Valley Community College

My daughter said to me, “Dad isn’t it funny how one thing leads to another. Like first we hear about the football team owner Robert Kraft and his videos of soliciting sex, and next we see pictures of the president Donald Trump hosting the lady day spa owner at his super bowl party?” And I said, “Yes, that is funny.” And of course, “Everything is connected.”

So, how can I connect the above family dialog with the happy “Why We Cycle” One Earth Film Festival event last night at Patagonia on Walton? Easy. The magic of media connects us all. In the Netherlands, “Why We Cycle” shows the media taking pictures of royal kings and queens and hardworking politicians riding bikes. They want to seem normal. That means getting on media, being filmed as regular cyclists. Cycling is normal in ‘the capital of world cycling’.

What’s normal here? Magic media yields Robert Kraft appearing normal in a motorcycle shirt. Magic media shows us a younger Donald Trump oddly lifting a bicycle to his chest. If you look you will find a normal female cyclist flipping off Trump’s passing motorcade. She was fired from her job for the offense. But you won’t find pictures of the presidential Trumps bicycling through Washington D.C.

Here is the connection. Expect a ‘normal’ transportation infrastructure bill in 2019. Normal tired old highway plans paid for by normal higher gas and diesel fuel taxes. Don’t expect a jump in bicycle, pedestrian or electric train transportation money. Unlike the republican conservative leaders who lead the way in better bicycle infrastructure in the Netherlands, many of ours don’t even consider bicycles transportation.

The connection I made last night at the film fest was this…not even in the Netherlands do they market bicycle transportation. They don’t promote it with advertising. They teach “the bicycle” in schools, but they don’t put it on television. We can have the longest elevated bicycle highway in the world by adding 3 miles to the 606 elevated trail. We can also have the first pro-bicycle television advertising campaign in the world. Let’s put elevated bicycle discourse in high gear!

To fight climate change, obesity, air pollution, and traffic congestion, all killing innocent Americans, we should post pro-bicycle ads after every auto sales commercial on all media. Through the magic of media, connecting bicycles with improved health, like smoking cessation strategies, we can begin to soften up the resistance to creating the most beautiful transportation systems in the world.

Thank you, One Earth Film Festival, for connecting us all together.