The Metamorphosis of Chuck Nevius and Mainstream Acceptance of Cycling

Nevius finally gets a handlebar perspective. Photo: Myleen Hollero/Orange Photography

It’s safe to assume that one year ago few bicycle riders who read the Chronicle would have ever imagined that Chuck Nevius would one day declare: “Bikes are the future. We need to do a better job of dealing with it.”

But that’s exactly what happened yesterday. Nevius’ sudden embrace of “the inevitable conclusion” is a milestone as bicycling becomes more and more mainstream in San Francisco.

“After all,” concedes Nevius, “more people than ever are pedaling the streets of San Francisco … riding a bike to work makes sense for even those who aren’t fanatic bike messenger types.”

You read that right. Not only did Nevius have an epiphany riding the Wiggle and write a column about it, but said he now uses a bicycle three times a week.

Nevius reintroduced himself into the urban wild just over a year ago after 20 years in captivity in Walnut Creek. If Chuck is an indicator species of cultural attitudes towards cycling as transportation, the experience has been nothing less than a metamorphosis from his windshield-perspective cocoon.

In the eyes of Nevius two years ago, San Francisco could never be a bicycle-friendly place, and to pursue such an idea would be to impose “the wishes of the few versus the needs of the many.” And in those days, daring to cross the street with him behind the wheel was just asking for it (now, it’s his bike lane you shouldn’t “cluelessly stroll into”).

Drivers, according to Nevius as late as January, were being “singled out because they own a car, drive in the city, and reliably pay their bills. And they are tired of being treated as the city’s cash cow.”

But now, it would seem he has since taken former Streetsblog reporter Matthew Roth’s suggestion and “ridden in that small crevice between the door zone and speeding traffic and wondered why a mode of travel you’ve chosen should feel so fraught with peril.”

After being “cut off, nearly hit, and honked at while riding in a bike lane,” Nevius has seen the light: ”Bicycling is for grown-ups. It’s time everyone acted like it.”

You might even spot him at Critical Mass tonight. After all, he says, it’s “mostly harmless good times.”