The Metamorphosis of Chuck Nevius and Mainstream Acceptance of Cycling

Nevius finally gets a handlebar perspective. Photo: ##http://www.orangephotography.com##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.”

  • That’s it; I’m buying a car.

  • “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”).”

    At least he consistently blames the more vulnerable road user for the conflict

  • It appears the tide on bicycling in San Francisco has officially turned.

  • Anonymous

    Coming soon – Debbie Saunders on the importance of Single Payer Health Care

  • joel

    I had a momentary fit of laughter when I saw the title of this post.

  • • Still divisive, though, against “fanatic bike messenger types” and an “old angry biker model” straw doll.  Since nobody had anything bad to say about Critical Mass, he had to resort to the “They don’t say it, but …” to launch into his own mischaracterizations.Speaking of which, it’s off to Pee-Wee Plaza for me!

  • • Still divisive, though, against “fanatic bike messenger types” and an “old angry biker model” straw doll.  Since nobody had anything bad to say about Critical Mass, he had to resort to the “They don’t say it, but …” to launch into his own mischaracterizations.Speaking of which, it’s off to Pee-Wee Plaza for me!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it was pretty cool to read his article. I had to do a double-take. But it reinforces what I’ve always believed: most people (being rational) simply don’t know what it’s like to ride a bike and only see it from the car-centric perspective that bicycles somehow negatively affect our cities (even though they don’t). But put them on a bike (and not once or twice, but have them regularly commute to work for, say, a month), and they will quickly realize how great it is and how it is indeed the future. And they will also realize how lacking we are in bicycle infrastructure and how it’s a shame that it isn’t made more of a priority.

    But I give Nevius credit for his change of opinion, and his openness to trying cycling (and then realizing how great it is, especially in SF). And the best part is: since his audience has traditionally been pro-automobile and anti-bike, he just dropped that bomb right in the middle of the crowd that needs the most convincing. Made my day ….

  • Anonymous

    Will we see the same from rob anderson in five years?

  • Anonymous

    Nice to hear some folks who moved to Mission Bay are utilizing other modes of transportation besides driving their personal vehicles.  Cheers to you Chuck!

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