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Local Bike Nut Meets the Real World


The administrator of the premier bicycling bulletin board in Minneapolis is calling it quits:

I know that you all love the forum, I know that you all love me. But I have to leave this chapter of my life, I would like to either complete my work on, or leave Minneapolis, for at least for months or maybe years, and to be honest, I don't even want to own a bike in this city any more.

Why Am I Doing This?

For the last 9-10 months, I have tried to find support in creating an expanded platform for the members of this website, and I have tried to get everyone in town working together to make things better for cycling. At EVERY turn, I have been told that my plans are too ambitious or too crazy, and I am done trying.

The fellow is mad because the local bike shops that cater to his audience aren’t willing to buy enough ads on his site:

I have been putting off the rest of the work until I have the funding I actually need to run this website as a business rather than a side project... There are other bike shops that would be in, but all of them are like 'oh, yeah, at the very bottom level' which is 1000/year. That is probably less than a single ad on a city bus. That is less than any other local website charges for banner advertisements, or sponsorship.

Maybe because there’s not very much money flowing through those beloved local bike shops. And the kind of anarchy that goes hand-in-hand with being a bike nut is anti-capitalist and anti-profit. It’s all supposed to be for the love of the cause, man.

The forum is for sale on eBay. Starting bid? $10,000.

I do not know why people see no value in what we have here on this site. I guess, in a lot of ways, it's my own fault, I have run this website as kind of an experiment in anarchy and DIY, we have not really looked for funding in the four years it has existed. But still, I can put an ad or a message in front of 1000 local cyclists a day. Each one of those people views 10 pages on average, so if you were running a banner on the current site.

So if you were to take a banner ad on the current forum out with me, you would place your message in front of a local cyclist TWICE A DAY. How much is that worth to people? Apparently, not much at all.

Building something that adds value for people is real work. And expecting to be paid for that work doesn’t fit with the biker counter-culture. At some point a line is crossed and one is no longer a victimized laborer. He becomes and evil and ungrateful capitalist entrepreneur.

This guy has come up to that line, and the cognitive dissonance is making him bitter. There is money—Obama money!—being spent on biking in Minneapolis, but not in ways that hard-core cyclists find useful:

And that is because the money that is being spent in this town to support cycling is going into paint that doesn't work, and organizations that want to create mode shift by getting people to try riding once during events like Bike Walk Week.

If those people actually make the shift and become cycling enthusiasts, they come here, they do not stay with those other organizations. And those organizations are not willing or able to support the forum as is.

As an anarchist, maybe he never put much faith in government. But he clearly put faith in his community. And they let him down.