Cycling activism is not really my thing – I am a regular cyclist in cities in Germany, know plenty of people who campaign for better cycling infrastructure, and follow a bunch of activists on social media. But I’ve never been more than a participant in Critical Mass or other protest rides, never organised cycle activism myself.

And I had no idea who Natenom – Andreas Mandalka – was, until he was killed by a car driver on 30 January near his home in Pforzheim.

Since then my social media streams have been filled with people mourning his passing – including from people more from the railway bubble (of which I am very much a part), and some very prominent transport campaigners.

Of course I understand why a traumatic moment causes more reaction than the everyday grind of activism, but I am also annoyed that somehow Natenom’s work had passed me by while he was alive. And if we had all (especially authorities in Pforzheim!) paid more attention to his points, he would still be alive today. Having read up on what he did, he strikes me as the sort of tireless, dogged, and sometimes annoying activist – who are precisely the people who in the end move something forward.

So please, if you’re reading this, ask yourself whose activism you ought to have backed more – and do it. And do it before some tragedy befalls that person, and only after their death do they get the recognition they deserve.

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