All Smiles As Chuck Ayers Returns to Cascade’s Helm

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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.

David Hiller, left, and Chuck Ayers: Together again

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.

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7 thoughts on “All Smiles As Chuck Ayers Returns to Cascade’s Helm”

  1. Paul, while your coverage on the unfolding evolution of the CBC has been excellent thusfar I must take issue with the assertion that the tactics utilized by Ayers and Hiller should in any way be commended.
    On the contrary, the position the board took to remove Ayers was exactly right and its too bad they didn’t have the foresight to see the write-in threat to subvert their move ahead of time. Or the panache to withstand the efforts by Ayers/Hiller to subvert the primary governance requirement of any nonprofit board, to hire and fire the CEO/ED.
    Ayers/Hiller should be commended for their work to date, but the club will stagnate now and fail to reach the aspirations some of us in the community can see as easily as the nose on our faces.
    Further, the online or personal reactions of a few of the 13,000 members should not have been allowed to reset the proper evolutionary course of the club. Ayers/Hiller leading the way will simply continue the same firebranding rhetoric which cannot tolerate compromise for the sake of the community at large. The extremely broad vision without commensurate execution and disintegrated web presence will continue, and a meaningful capital campaign from the community to realize a true gem of a physical manifestation (e.g expanded Mag Park facility offfering compelling bike-related experiences for riders of all ages/abilities) of the CBC will not occur.

    I confess that posting anonymously is lame, but with my position the community such candor might not be such a good thing and I’m unable to find your private email on this site. I do not serve on the CBC board.I am a daily commuter and I can say without reservation that an Ayers/Hiller CBC does NOT represent me or my interests.

  2. Unfortunately E Pluribus Unum is not our national motto. It should be and was unofficially until 1956. The US national motto is actually “In God we trust” which was enacted in 1956, two years after adding the same idiotic reference “…under god,” to the Pledge of Allegiance to distinguish us from the godless commie pinkos, somehow forgetting that the government of the US is not about religion.

  3. Ken, this country actually WAS founded “under God.” It doesn’t mean YOU have to believe in God but the founders had a deep connection with christianity and this was well documented in writings of the founders. Yes, they didn’t want one government religion but that doesn’t mean you are correct in your assessment.

    So your options aren’t to either believe in God or call the reference, “idiotic.” You can be an athiest, agnostic, devil worshipping knuckledragger and still acknowledge that God was a driving force in the founding of our country. Not for you, but you aren’t one of the founders of this country anyway.

  4. I support the input of Lost Opportunity 100%, and thank that daily commuter for stepping out with his/her truth.

    With no personal affiliation with this club, in large part due to the mannerisms of its ED, I can say for sure that personal style, for one, has a lot to do with one’s success in the public sphere.

    (I would like to suggest that a kinder, gentler, and less ‘macho’ personality and tone be maintained by future ED’s . . . such that people of all stripes feel better represented by the director, and more comfortable stepping forward to become (happily) active as members and as more involved volunteers and advocates.)

  5. Chuck was not fired “unexpectedly”, unless the author means unexpected by him. I’m not on the board, but I believe this all was under discussion for many months, as I heard about it in the spring.

  6. “but with my position the community such candor might not be such a good thing ”

    What a bunch of hypocrisy! Position in the community…what community? The part that hides inside making snide comments about others? Look if you have that strong feelings about the direction of a frigging bicycle club, go to the meeting and stand up and speak out. Otherwise quit. As in quit the club to show your displeasure with it’s direction. Vote with your dollars and membership.

    I’m not a member of Cascade. I don’t want to make the time to go on their group rides. I’d join if all I wanted was a political action committee but up until recently they’ve been a bunch of apologizing milk toasts. Example: It took almost 10 years for the county to get access to the bicycle trail/rail road tracks on the East side of Lake Samamish! Ten F’n years! Homeowners with guns threatening county council members. Where was the Cascade Club holding the council responsible for this unlawful action? No where.

    I’m all for working with people to accommodate multiple uses of public property but in the case of a certain Ballard Oil company they can go stuff it. They’ve not even tried to meet the bicyclists 1/2 way. So its long past time to go militant on them and say, it’s our property, get used to it. Work with us or see you in court. Without the threat of court they just delay and delay…

    This city needs people like Hiller if we are ever going to get enough bike friendly streets to get past the 3% of commuters using bicycles. Portland for example is about double that! So you can’t claim it’s the weather.

    -Gary-

  7. Oh Paul, your reporting inspite of the glowing commendation by “lost” has actually been rather poor by news reporting standards.

    Why? First, you have been at least 24 hrs behind the actual news. PubliCola has scoped you every time. Second you haven’t really added anything other than to copy the release notes from Cascade. No in person interviews, no inside information and hardly any analysis.

    Why am I still reading your blog? Because you do collect links to other news about bicycling that I find interesting and I used to read your stuff back when you did print news at the PI. And I figure that over time you’ll improve and maybe get back to being as agile and timely as then.

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