Advocacy Mindset: It’s Global!

LTRs have probably figured out my formula for blog posts: read something totally unrelated to cycling and find a link to the two wheeled beast, no matter how tenuous.

Well, here I go again.

I have been reading a book called _Put Your Mindset to Work_ [].

It’s mostly fluff with Shit I All Ready Know.

However, I feel that it’s good to reinforce good ideas so I’m doing just that.

On the other hand, many advocates I have spoken to do NOT have a 3G mindset so perhaps these ideas are needed more than I know. AlsHavo, it just might explain why despite decades of cycling advocacy, modeshare has remained flat.

Let’s find out.

In the book, they have a 3G attitude for success: global, good, and grit.

Here we’ll talk about a global mindset.

Having a global mindset means seeking the new and different. Instead of asking, if it’s in AASHTO, the global mindset would ask, what is best practice in the world.

Instead of having the attitude of NIH, not invented here, globally minded advocates will try to get what works well in other countries here. These advocates will explore new ideas with openness and curiosity. They won’t ask what is in the vehicle code nor what people will accept nor whether we can afford it nor what is politically possible. The close minded mindset only seek to crush brilliant new innovations in the cradle and they create an atmosphere of fear. The greatest thrill of the close minded is finding tiny flaws in ideas before they are even fully formed. The close minded feel that any changes will be permanent rather than realizing that our cities are forever blank canvases for the most imaginative to paint upon.

And by paint, I don’t mean this metaphorically. After all, if paint on the road will do nothing to improve safety why would lane positioning, lights and a yellow vest have any effect. 🙂

Another attitude of the globally minded is connection. By connection, they don’t merely sign up to social networks and go to networking events, but they contribute. Many of us have fear of getting contacted by people because we know that they want something from us.

Instead, we need to get out there and to find out what other people want and to make an effort to make it happen.

Another global attitude is looking at the big picture, a literal global view. How often do we hear nonsense about more local control for things like transportation issues. Sure, let’s create a system that is guaranteed to create a disconnected mess of a bicycling system.

Instead of just trying to get things working in our own neighborhood, we need to see how this interacts with the plans of other neighborhoods.

The book _Reluctant Metropolis_ shows the idiocy of trying to focus on one’s own backyard, only. They have wound up looking even more homogenous than if they had looked at the bigger picture with abandoned shells of identical chain businesses only a few miles away which have taken from their communities then left behind more problems than if they had developed nothing at all.

Bike lanes that only go for a few miles do nothing to increase connectivity thus we should plan to connect neighborhoods at a more city wide and even at a nation wide level given some sweet interstate cycle paths.

While these things take time, instead of just thinking about how long things should take if we act, we also need to point out what would happen if we don’t act.

If you see cycling infrastructure as optional then it’s OK to wait decades and centuries to build it. After all, we don’t want to offend anyone with some paint. 🙂

On the other hand, if we realize the consequences if we don’t act then perhaps we’d be more motivated.

Finally, those who are close minded are often convergent thinkers. That is they are focused on getting things right. This is legal, this is not. This is AASHTO, this is not. And so on.

These thinkers get frustrated with people who aren’t so concerned with their limited world view known as the “facts” and this explains why they are uncomfortable when they meet with people who don’t fit into their mold.

Divergent thinkers, on the other hand are more focused on creativity.

A question they often ask is if there were no constraints, how would be solve this problem?”

Often the answers to these questions are possible and much more beneficial than the limited views we had before.

Based on what I have learned I feel that we should stop using fear of being wrong to keep our views focused on the immediate limitations such as laws, politics, and public opinion.

Also, we should stop thinking of our own limited desires (right to the road) and instead think of the long term impacts on our decisions.

Finally, we should stop using this idiotic “local” mantra and instead focus on how improvements in our community can benefit the city, country, and even world as a whole.


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