Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

October 29, 2010

Burning bridges

I have removed my most recent post.

Though it was factual — and passed muster with Robert Winters, who manages this forum — it did not address the main issue that motivates me to post here: my intense frustration with some directions which the Cambridge bicycle program is taking. My post was an expression of frustration rather than a description of current issues, and as such, it created more heat than light.

In the post, I asked whether Jeff Rosenblum was a builder of bridges. I think that was a fair question, but on the other hand I have burned some, and not only with him. I am no longer a member of the Massbike Technical Advisory Committee. Executive Director David Watson had already explained to me that my presence on that committee was getting in the way of Massbike’s work with governments. My recent post was the last straw for him.

I had already considered resigning for a couple of months. I regret that I did not have the courage to ask for a resignation. Instead, I backed myself into this situation. In the light of some of my posts in this forum, it may come as a surprise to my readers, but confrontation does not come easily for me. Sometimes I do not manage it well, and it bursts out.

Massbike and its predecessor organization, the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition, have been a major part of my life over the years. I have been on the Board of Directors, been President, attended hundreds of meetings and public hearings, written large reports under contract. I part from Massbike with considerable regret. On the other hand, I am also feeling much relief with this change. I had become increasingly frustrated with some directions Massbike is taking. I was increasingly uncomfortable as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee, and Massbike leadership was increasingly uncomfortable with me.

My underlying drive, my lifetime quest, as I must acknowledge to myself, is as a journalist. When I see something that disturbs me, my primary instinct is to provide information, to explain my concern, to try to make it understandable to other people. I am highly uncomfortable with biting my tongue in the interest of political expediency and compromise.

I have now freed myself from that obligation as it involves bicycling issues in Massachusetts, and so I think I will now be able to do a better job here on this forum. I offer my heartfelt thanks to Robert Winters for hosting this forum and for his support.

I’ll sign off with a quote, which I think is apt:

“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.” –Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

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