Social Media Wins Again


What I love about the modern age is that there are consequences for everything. If someone does something irresponsible or stupid enough to be noticed, chances are word will be spread and it will come back to haunt them.

We’ve seen this numerous times with the cycling community. I’m sure everyone who reads this blog remembers the pummeling that Specialized took for harassing a local bike shop for using Roubaix in his products. After remaining silent for a few days, they inevitably apologized.

Not too long ago, some Georgia lawmaker proposed licensing all bicycles in the state. The cycling community spoke up, and the bill was retracted promptly. The excuse, as you can see in this link, was that they wanted to start a discussion.

Wendy Nanney, enter stage left.

A congresswoman from Greenville proposed a bill to not only license bikes in South Carolina, but force them to get liability insurance. It was a preposterous suggestion, and as many have pointed out, would have never made it to a vote.

Someone found the bill online and posted it to Facebook. Whoever made the discovery deserves a ton of credit for what followed. It spread like wildfire. I saw it posted to a friend’s feed, then it started being shared, and shared, and shared again. I posted it to the SteepClimbs Facebook page where it got a TON more traction than most of my posts. I’m not taking credit for it spreading around the internet, but I’m glad to have posted it to raise awareness. My post alone got 5,000 views, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. On Sunday night, this story was all over my news feed.

It doesn’t end there.

Representative Nanney has a Facebook page of her own.

I wish I had screen-captured the first post she put up. Basically, it gave an overview of how a bill becomes a law, which shows me that she had at least watched the video below.

I responded, thanking her for the government lesson, and asking if she could share the process of voting idiots that proposed ill-conceived legislation out of office. She deleted my comment as well as many others. Frankly, I don’t blame her. Today that post no longer exists.

What’s amazing is that this congresswoman is from Greenville, which is one of the top cycling destinations in the southeast. Their Swamp Rabbit Trail is a model for urban cycling development. Greenville at one time hosted the US PRO Cycling Tournament, and holds plenty of other smaller tournaments. Her bill would have effectively banned anyone from out of the state from participating in any of these tournaments. I know firsthand how much revenue these events can generate. Her bill would lose the city millions, maybe tens of millions, in Greenville tourist revenue alone.

Lots of people ride bikes in Greenville and throughout South Carolina. I’ve met many of them. We don’t often talk about politics on the bike, but I happen to know that many of them are ultra conservative, many are ultra liberal, and many are smack dab in middle. I also know that they are a passionate bunch, and they all vote. This is the type of issue that could unite a whole host of people, and was a major misstep for the congresswoman.

The saga concluded today with the retraction of the bike bill. She explained it eloquently in this Facebook post. I love those first few words, “After the overwhelming response from the cycling community, I have decided to drop the Bike Bill.” Again, she was just trying to start a discussion.

We cannot take full responsibility. As it turns out, the Palmetto Cycling Coalition had learned of this bill a couple weeks ago and had been working behind the scenes to shut it down. I have no doubt that even without social media, they would have been successful. That said, it’s a terrific feeling to unite with thousands of people you’ve never met, yet share the same opinion, and together make things happen.

The Cycling Community is a force to be reckoned with. We won again.

15 responses to “Social Media Wins Again

  • fatbeardedandtattooedcyclist

    greenville is also or used to be a popular area for pro BMX riders as well, why does the government have to stick their nose in to places where they obviously don’t belong, that proposed bill is the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard of, i hope the government stays far away from the cycling community, i can’t speak for every one but i can say we don’t want them or need them any where near it

    • aaronwest

      I agree that the government should not be restricting cycling. If anything, they should encourage cycling programs for a number of reasons: 1) It improves our citizens overall health, which saves $$. 2) It relieves traffic congestion. 3) It brings in $$.

  • bgddyjim

    Sad thing is that dumbass was probably a Republican! Gotta love politicians brother. Stupidity and the thirst to showcase it knows no bounds.

    • bgddyjim

      It’s tough being so politically astute. Sheesh. Just checked out her online profile.

      • aaronwest

        In fairness, this is South Carolina, which is about as red state as it can get. Most elected politicians here are Republicans. I’ve seen this sort of nonsense from Democrats and Republicans alike, so I try not to make point fingers at certain parties. I remember a Washington State situation that was from a Democrat, but they are a blue state.

      • bgddyjim

        Thank God the idiocy is spread across party lines… Oh wait.

        The only two I knew of were from Republicans. šŸ˜‰

  • John K

    Who elects these people in the first place? Doesn’t say much about those who ran against them and lost. Seems everybody is losing now a days due to the lack of innovative and dynamic lawmakers. Living overseas the US Expat community is embarrassed by the politics in the US and lack of leadership. Its good for a good laugh on social medial but Americans aren’t getting the last laugh.

    • aaronwest

      We do live in a divisive political climate. I can only imagine what it’s like watching all this from Asia. While I do my best to avoid political debates, this was one where I could not help myself.

  • Randy Jaeggli

    Wendy is normally a conservative who favors limited governmental intervention in our lives. But she sure spazzed-out on this bill! What a way to “start a conversation.”

    • aaronwest

      I wondered whether your family knew Wendy. It is hard to speak for her previous legislation since I don’t know her voting record, but I can tell that she made a big mistake with this issue. Hopefully some good comes out of this and she realizes what a benefit the sport of cycling is to Greenville, and works to help make riding safer without infringing on the rights of cyclists.

  • r4builder

    I still get amazed when folks hide behind the “start a conversation”. I have never seen a conversation that starts with hostility ending well. The best I can see here is that she is attempting to save face publicly, and attempt to make the cycling community “the bad guys” because they took a hardline stand.

    I trust that PCC along with the local cycling communities are working with our lawmakers to make situations better, but I honestly hope she does not run uncontested (again) this year.

    • aaronwest

      She is definitely saving face. The best way to start a conversation, in my opinion at least, is to actually start a conversation, not to try to restrict what other people do. Many of her constituents are cyclists. She could have easily reached out to them to learn about possible solutions, none of which would have been the language of this bill.

  • Matt P

    Great post, Aaron. This does seem like a “long throw for the other team” coming from a conservative.

    “Starting a conversation” sounds like a political apology.

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