The Toronto Cyclists Union recently had elections for new Board Members. I noticed that one candidate, Nick Cluley had written out a notice on his blog about being up for one of the positions, so I asked if we could do a short e-interview so that BikingToronto readers could learn a bit more about him and why he decided to put himself up to be a Union board member.
Here is the short interview:
1. How did you first get into cycling?
In 2005 I was living in Long Beach, California and completely fed up with spending hours and hours on the freeway. I sold the car and turned the $2000 it grabbed into a Trek Hybrid bike and a 50cc scooter for the sometimes unavoidable longer journeys. A couple of years after, I was relocated to Chicago, sold the scooter, and was able to ride all year. Beyond an Autoshare, I plan to stay car free and keep finding new ways to get around by bike.
2. What kinds of activities do you use your bike to get around to?
My daily commute is by bike, starting from the Moss Park area, I usually head up to wear Finch and the DVP meet twice a week. The other days, I cruise my way to meetings around e downtown core. I’ve done a couple of longer, multi day trips and also run all of my errands by bike. For me, the choices for transit are walking, TTC, or bike as much as possible….with bike being the number one choice for anything more than 50 meters away.
3. Why did you decide to join the Bike Union in the first place?
There really was no option not to join for me. I think everyone on a bike in the city is already a member in spirit and that anyone who is able to put forth $25 for a membership card should do so. All of our who sound time in the saddle end up having frustrating experiences on the road and in a city where much of the population still views driving as absolutely essential, cyclists truly need a voice and community to contribute to.
4. What made you put yourself up for election to the Union Executive?
Riding constantly, I’ve had some strong personal experiences with cycling in Toronto from street track sketches and wipe outs, to being “pulled over” and hassled for appearing to be a courier (a story you can check out on my blog if you’re curious…that was a weird one) that pushed me to take an active role in the union. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to cycle in many North American and European cities and have seen solutions to infrastructure, as well as cycling community issues work in a variety of ways. Really looking at where the Union is now (HUGE media voice, great events, active community, representative voice in the many municipal debates occurring about cycling and about 1000 members) I see growing membership and doing so in intuitive, inexpensive ways, is our big opportunity in the immediate future.
5. On your Savings Cycle blog, you’ve written that you feel the Union has become a bit too politicized. Why do you think this, and how can this be fixed (if it needs to be fixed?)
I think that it is very important that the union advocate for its members and continue to organize and encourage them to voice their opinions as voters. I also think it important for the Union to continue to take a stance in the media on these issues. With all of the buzz this year around cycling, including the mayoral elections, it is clear the Union has to participate on the behalf of its members in debates around how the city can better be shared. It is also essential, though, that we keep building membership as goal number one and remember that through increased membership, all other efforts are amplified. In short, we will have more impact with more members and need to direct our efforts proportionately towards this goal and not allow the Union’s growth to be at all slowed by putting too great a part of our limited resources into affecting politics today. Toronto is doing the right thing by starting the discussion on infrastructure and complete streets issues and it is very promising and necessary that the conversation and decisions will continue over the next 10-20 years as the city grows tremendously. The Union needs to guide that conversation today, as it is doing well, but put as much effort towards growing our impact as quickly and efficiently as possible so that with each decision, we have a voice that is increasingly difficult to ignore.
Thanks to Nick for taking the time to write this out, and letting BikingToronto readers know a bit more about him.
The new Members of the Toronto Cyclists Union Executive Board are: