One time I was talking to an mental health advocate friend who was caught up in a very nasty fight with the local mental health system. I told her, “You know the old saying about ‘sometimes you can win the battle but lose the war?’ Do you know which one you are fighting?” And how can we tell the difference? This is one of my bike parking wars. I take a lot of mental health advocacy ideas from my bike parking wars or art advocacy work. I like to cross pollinate my advocacy areas.
This story happened this winter when it was about 30 degrees for several months with lots of snow. I had these bike parking wars going at my church because I wanted to park inside when the bike was clean so that I didn’t have to gear up and unlock in the cold. This was during the first round of my winter spiritual emergency. I went to the church and asked the church secretary to to pray for me about the demons that were bugging me. She had a good question, “What do the demons want?”
The answer I figured out later, they want to fight battles and not the war. Pointless battles that just alienate people, frustrate me, and suck up my time so I don’t get useful stuff done. Battles that make me lose the overall big picture like bike parking wars. Like in my job as a mental health advocate when I say, “You are doing this all wrong.” Instead of “I know a better way to do this.”
How not to win bike parking wars:
So the church kept telling me I couldn’t park inside which confounded me as their lobby is something like 20,000 square feet. Most buildings with lots of floor space have no problem with bicycles inside. But the Welcome Dude had told me not to store the bike inside because it made the lobby look bad. I got mad, thinking that bicycles look awesome! They should be decoration everywhere! But the Welcome Dude told me and my bike friend to take them outside. The second time my friend and I came to church, we locked the bikes together with all our our touring gear on them since we’d come in from some trip or other. So it was a 230 pounds messy combo about 6 feet long with really bad leverage from the two bikes and a trailer all attached.
I said, “Well, what are you going to do if I don’t take the bikes outside?”
He said, “I think I might just move them myself.”
I looked at that tangle and camping gear, and said, “I don’t think you can.” And I had him there! I won the battle!
So I bitched to the church secretary, “The Welcome Dude offered to physically pick my bicycle up and put it outside if I didn’t do it myself. This, to a bicyclist, is violence. It’s very close to manhandling someone’s glasses or wheelchair or cane. It’s a part of my body. The video would also make super hot social media if I felt like posting it on pro-bike channels. None of his opposition has made sense to me. Last night’s rationale for kicking me out included liability if kid touched it or cluttering the lobby.”
Why this approach to bike parking wars doesn’t really work:
But I guess I lost the war, seeing as the reason I was in church was to get help from all the people that had been super helpful in getting me through a very tough time. I was there to learn to be more Christian and all that, and not petty and angry. It’s like the saying, “It’s easy to beat people, but hard to win them.” And I guess the real war is winning souls or at least our own advocacy agendas as a whole.
I was so pissed that I didn’t hear the first half of sermon, until the pastor started bragging about how the church overcomes obstacles to worship. I told my friend, “Like bike parking.” and we both laughed and high fived and that broke the spell. So since this ended up a pissing contest that is just frustrated the Welcome Dude and me, I asked the church what to do and they found me a closet to park in. Which didn’t work that well as the closet kept getting locked with our bikes in it, but it’s all fine now since it’s almost summer and I don’t have to prep to ride at 30 degrees any more.
Better ideas for bike parking wars:
I guess some better ideas would have been not to try to trap or embarass the Welcome Dude, but to make friends with him. To use the chain of command, to stay calm, to appeal to reason and the financial interests of the organization. All of which I did later but since I came out fighting first, none of it worked that well later. Although once months later the Welcome Dude, whose name turned out to be Ryan, let me bring my bike into a church class I was taking so I could work on my brakes during class while they were playing a movie. So the bike parking wars continue.