Big smiles and good feelings abounded last night at the Cascade Bicycle Club’s BikePAC fundraiser following the reinstatement of Chuck Ayers as executive director on an interim basis till a successor can be found.
“It’s been a tough week for the board,” a buoyant Ayers told the gathering of about 50 cycling insiders, adding to long applause: “If we could get our politicians together like we came together to move an agenda, we’d have a lot of things move in this country — quickly.”
After a week of turmoil that, according on one board member, “felt more like a month,” the move defused a potential mutiny within club ranks and set the stage for a forward-looking agenda at its upcoming annual meeting next Thursday at REI.
The popular veteran club leader was fired unexpectedly a week ago by the board after refusing to resign. Board members, many of whom were recruited by Ayers, felt the 13,000-member, 24-staff organization had reached the point where a different leadership skill set was required. Longstanding members and staff, however, saw the move as a threat to Cascade’s bike advocacy efforts, as well as a signal the club was becoming more “PC” and corporate-like.
Discussion among dissidents remains ongoing of recalling board members and/or supporting write-in candidates on an extant ballot. But Ayers’ reappointment removed a potential ring-leader from the equation and also clarified the standing of advocacy director David Hiller, an Ayers lieutenant whose future was cast into doubt by Ayers’ firing.
While numerous challenges remain organizationally, the move was widely greeted as calming the waters.
When the two stood before the group to hand out door prizes, it felt like an affirmation of the approach that boosted club membership by more than 30 percent in the past two years. Ayers’ reappointment was set for six months but can be extended. He will work with the board and membership to provide a smooth transition to new leadership.
On hand were four Cascade-endorsed legislative leaders, including City Council members Mike O’Brien and Tom Rasmussen, King County Council candidate Joe McDermott, and Rep. Jay Inslee.
Inslee put forward a five-point plan — “three serious, two comical” — for national policy with the admittedly optimistic goal of emphasizing a system “where the default position is the bicycle.” Non-motorized vehicle use should be closely integrated with land-use planning, Inslee said. And under the proposed National Transportation Objectives Act, motorized transport per capita per mile would be reduced by 16 percent over the next decade, with CO emission cut by 40 percent.
Inslee’s less serious propositions: Change the national motto from “E Pluribus Unum” to “The funny free feeling of feeling freewheeling.” Second, the Cascade club criterium should be held around the top perimeter of the Space Needle.
Inslee, who rides a classic 1981 Cinelli, said the demands of Washington “have killed my bike riding.” But he vowed to “keep pushing” to ensure bikes are included in federal transportation policy.
BikePAC, the club’s political action division, helps raise money to support bike-friendly candidates.