Two perspectives • One goal

Nick Cluley (a great guy, in my opinion) has written a long blog post explaining why he supports changing the name of the Toronto Cyclists Union to ‘Cycle Toronto’.  As I’ve already written, I’m a fan of keeping the name as it is.  But more importantly, I’m a fan of democracy and debate, and I’m glad Nick has contributed to the online debate, and I think it’s great that this choice is being carried out in a democratic way, with all members having a say.

I encourage members to take the time to read Nick’s post, and then vote however you wish.  The main thing is that after the vote, we all get back to work and focus on our shared goal: more bikes on the streets, and safer roads for everyone. 

The one thing I’ll say in response to Nick’s piece is that I agree with almost everything he says.  I’m just not convinced that we need to change the name in order to address all those concerns. I truly believe we can reach out into the suburbs, and build a true city-wide base, with our current name.  But even then, most of our members will still be from the core.  That’s just the nature of the city.  More people bike downtown – that’s why almost every single independent bike store is downtown.  It has little to do with brands or marketing.  It’s just the way the city is designed.

I’m a huge, huge, fan of inclusive marketing.  In fact, I recently gave a speech all about inclusive marketing and the counter-productive use of alienating language in the non-profit sector. We should never let jargon and language get in the way of positive advocacy.  But, as I’ve said, I’m not convinced that the word ‘union ‘is necessarily an obstacle in the long run.  Over time, our reputation will earn us the trust of cyclists from across the city, of all ages, backgrounds, and political beliefs.

To close, I’m re-pasting the last two paragraphs of my previous post, because I’m worried that some people might not have seen them (given how long and rambling the post was) and these are the most important words I have to offer:

Lastly, and most importantly, I just want to say that people shouldn’t get too worked up about the outcome and the discussion shouldn’t become divisive.  It’s just a name, and the bike union (or Cycle Toronto) will grow and prosper – with either name.  The discussion, debate, and the vote should all happen in a respectful manner with an acknowledgement that everyone involved has the best interests of the organization at heart.  And once the vote is done, everyone should fully get behind the name of the organization, whatever that name is, and move forward.  There is a lot of work to be done, and we’re in a great position to make Toronto safer, healthier and greener for everyone.

Make sure to renew your membership this year, get involved with your local Ward group, and offer some volunteer time to the organisation.  With your help, we can transform the city.

7 responses to “Two perspectives • One goal

  1. Doug Holyday, former mayor of Etobicoke, actually just said this: “Don’t send us any more activists, don’t send us any more unionists, don’t send us any more cyclists. Send us some people down here with good common sense who just want to manage the city’s affairs.”

    The article was about contracting out cleaning services. How the hell did cyclists get involved? Clearly in Holyday’s mind, cyclist = unionist = pinko. Still think the word “union” isn’t an obstacle to winning over Holyday voters or Ford voters?

    • But why do we have to give into allowing the ‘Holyday’s’ to frame the discussion. I am a proud union member – retired – and I don’t think we have to go quietly. There is just nothing wrong with people getting together in common cause and people who are oppressed always have and always will get together to gain strength through numbers. It is human nature.

  2. If only all political debates could be this reasoned and respectful.

  3. Pingback: Five Reasons, Two Names, One Goal: Your Board of Directors Adds to the Name Change Conversation « Name Change Conversation

  4. Okay, here’s a pitch: What about “Toronto Cyclists United”?

    While it doesn’t address the practical/financial issue of re-branding outlined in your first blog post, it might be a way to maintain the notion of a collective that the word “union” reflects and a bit of brand consistency while moving away from a term that some find objectionable.

    Emphasis on “might.” For me, the word “united” doesn’t bring to mind the labour movement at all. But maybe that’s just me. But I don’t see ANYONE jumping up and down and demanding that the United States of America change its name, which makes me think that I’m not alone here…

    • Cyclists United works. In fact, there are also plenty of other synonyms for union that, if we have to cater to the least intelligent (I refuse to accept that this is a purely political disagreement), would avoid any confusion with labour unions.

      But if the vote is between Cyclists Union and Cycle Toronto, I’m confident that the former will win not necessarily on its own merit, but because the latter is non-descriptive and therefore more confusing.

  5. I will vote for the change because I too have had problems recruiting people when all they hear is “union” and ignore the rest.

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