The Three Marks of An Advocate

Originally, this post was going to be called the more offensive, “you are not an advocate,” but for once I’m not being offensive for the sake of being offensive.

The germ of the post started when a friend of mine was giving a speech talking about all the advocacy going on and my heart sank because I realized that a lot of energy being put into “advocacy” to me was not advocacy at all.

Unlike other posts (I’m looking at you e-scooters), I don’t wish to get into arguments over the meanings of words.

Thus, for now I’ll let people who talk to one person to get them to ride to work a few days a week think of themselves as an “advocates”.

Personally, though, I do NOT consider myself as an advocate. Not only do I refrain from individual advocacy, but I do not do the hard work that it would take to consider msyelf a full blow advocate. I do think of myself as a researcher for advocacy or if advocates are lawyers, I’m a paralegal.

But there are things you can do to become a real advocate.

1. Data driven: Real advocacy is based on facts and numbers. If you don’t do your research then you don’t know what you’re talking about. This is the main problem I have with VCism; it’s too much of a religion to do proper research. Even their papers are distorted by bizarre question begging that only a zealot can stomache.

2. It has measurable goals: It’s great that you want your friends to bicycle, but what’s success? One friend? All of them? How do you know when things are getting better? Cycling advocacy has been around for decades and mode share has been flat or declining for many years. IF MODE SHARE DOES NOT INCREASE THEN CYCLING ADVOCATES HAVE WASTED THEIR TIME. Weaker advocates avoid having goals because that way they don’t get called out on their lack of progress. When they are forced to make goals, they aim low as to pre-emtively avoid feeling like a failure. Good advocates look at what’s a hard goal then they aim higher. Often they exceed everyone’s expectations. Quisling advocates have vague goals like “rights to the road” that are not only not measurable, but they mean almost nothing which allows them to have a free hand to crush infrastructure under the cloak of darkness.

3. People skills: good advocates know that after one has goals and research on how to get there, the way to convince people is marketing. Poor advocates focus on facts and figures when making presentations. Good advocates work on getting their audience to have faith and conviction in their goals and their ability to get there.

I’m sure there are more things that make a good advocate, but off the top of my head, these are the top three.

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