Sunday, 24 July 2016

I Once Ate the Front Bumper of a Taurus From Below

     I'm not much of a joiner. Never have been, never will be. When I form my own uninfluenced opinion of something, then find it in line with that of others, especially popular opinion, I second guess myself.

      When I heard Uptown Funk, I thought it must be the best song of the last ten years. Then everyone loved it, and I didn't anymore, and I had a lot of (valid) reasons why, but the suspicion started with my distrust of the crowd.

      So now that there is a burgeoning local cycling movement, I am conflicted. Cycling is quick, easy, healthy, and cheap. It's good for you, and the environment, and for most people who live in a city of any size, can get you where you need to be without much difference in commute time. In many places in Europe, this is the sort of thing that is just known. Some of the most famous tourist destinations in the world are car-free, or else, car-limited. [I strongly recommend a perusal of this link.]

      There are great resources, such as local bike shops that offer goods and services that just would not be available without the upswing of cycle culture.

      But, I don't want to take a dozen pictures of every bike related thing I do. I don't want to ride with fifty other people. Hell, I often don't want to ride with one other person, because I'm either going too fast for them, or too slow, depending on who I'm with. I don't want to be in a club, or on a billboard, I don't want to fetishize cycling.  I just want the world to make sense. I just want to ride my bike, and be left the hell alone, most significantly by cars in a hurry. I'm Freddie Mercury out here, people.

      As with all important issues (yes, emissions reduction and a healthier lifestyle for the general population is massively important), I wish no one ever had to say anything. I wish the facts were evident without having to take a needle to every personal bubble where people think their silly little misinformed thoughts. Look at the hate that pride groups, or civil rights groups, or feminists, or really anyone trying to do something to make the world better, experiences. That's common, and such hate is a common reaction to any group like that on the come-up. Hell, the term "Social Justice Warrior" has somehow become a pejorative.

     So, I don't want to join that group. I can articulate on my own, without logos, labels, or limericks; I don't need or want someone to speak for me.

     Further, I've noticed that, when it comes to cycling, almost everyone is wrong (and I am not here suggesting I am totally in the right, but, righter than many). Most people can be forgiven their prejudices pretty easily; for both cyclists and motorists there is no public education program for how to deal with this new plague of eco-friendly, healthy monsters.

      That means a lot of cyclists don't know how to behave on the road, and a lot of motorists don't know how to behave around cyclists. I don't want to discuss the rules. I am not a public educator. I am a goon, here to whack people over the head with the mallet of sense. I'm like nerdy Thor.

      Not being a part of such a community does stir some internal conflict. A united front would go a long way to influencing both policy and public opinion, which is desperately needed. However, all debates around the subject inevitably degrade into useless shouting/typing matches, and have no use for things like facts, evidence, and logic.If you've looked at any groups going head up these days, you might notice that "united fronts" seem only to further divide people.

      We're a small minority, I know, but we're growing (even that "we" hurts my soul). Cycling is coming into vogue, and big cities especially are adding them into their urban plans. People, even old curmudgeons, will have to approach this issue with maturity and logic instead of anger and habit...or habitual anger.

     And I well understand the motorist's frustration with bikes. With Windsor lacking protected lanes in most places, bikes are, at best, in the way, and often in dangerous violation of the law.

      Asshole Cyclists I've seen in the last month:

      -A group of idiots riding against traffic on a busy road. This is a good way to die.

      -A man who looked like he should really know better in his full cycling kit complete with helmet and rearview, probably in his mid-fifties, cut around me (I was in a truck) then circled left around a car at a red light, to go on through the red.

      -People zipping up sidewalks with no regard for pedestrians.

      -An old guy in my neighbourhood who almost certainly lost his licence to a DUI, balancing a case and a garbage bag of empty bottles for return to The Beer Store, dumped his load in the street - shattering glass all over the road and sidewalk. He rode away.

      All of these are reprehensible behaviours, and I won't even start in on what the hell people on E-Bikes think they're doing. Stupid cycling can make accidental murderers out of motorists, devastating someone's life for no fault of their own.

      But this is not every cyclist, so let's cut the fuckin' shit.

      I've heard many blisteringly stupid arguments against bikes, such as:

      -They slow down traffic.
      Except, no, they don't really, especially in a city, with stop lights and lots of cars on the road. Time it, I dare you.

      -They don't deserve the roads that motorists pay for.
      Except most cyclists still pay taxes, and the majority also drive cars, so, no. If you really want to allocate the road based on whose taxes pay for the largest portions of it, then we can all drive on about a six foot patch of pavement. Sounds efficient.

      -They break the rules.
      You don't speed? You don't check your phone in the car? Never done a rolling stop? Everyone breaks the rules. The average cycling infraction is far, far less consequential than that of a motor vehicle, so unless you're prepared to go after jay walkers and people doing 10 km over the speed limit on the 401, temper your argument with sense.

      Here's my argument.

      Bikes, the easiest way to make sure you aren't being an asshole on the road is to just act like you're in a car. Since you're going slow, move over to let people pass as long as it is safe to do so. For the love of god, stop at stop signs and lights. Don't be an asshole just because you can. 

      And if you're in a car and come upon a bike, act like they're a car. You wouldn't pass a car within millimetres, and you wouldn't scream at a car for exercising their basic right to turn left. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life. Your hurry is not more important than my life.

       It won't solve everything every time, but it's a really good way not to kill anyone.

      I don't want to be a cycling advocate. That does not mean I want to be in the opposing group. I just want healthy people and a healthy planet.

      Although Jaws is definitely my scene, and I do like Star Wars.

1 comment:

  1. I like this. You make many valid points that should just be common sense but, saddenly, are not to the general population. What I don't like is your dislike for belonging to things.

    Religion, I get that.

    Cycling is something that should be advocated. Same with eating healthy and getting off your ass.

    And being a SJW has become a pejorative because they are the evangelicals of being PC. They cherry pick headlines that align and strengthen their preconceived ideals or the ideals of the group they are desperately trying to gain acceptance and praise from. Advocating is one thing but forcing opinions on others because you think you know better is barbaric and just wrong. Leave that for the people peddling door to door for the JLS.

    Forcing change doesn't change things. It simply bullies others into conforming. When really the change needs to com from within. Be the change you want to see and all that Jazz.

    I also think you can enjoy and advocate cycling without joining a group. You can be a lone wolf and enjoy things that everyone else likes too.

    Mainstream music has it boiled down to a science where if you hear a song enough and it's catchy it will wear your ass down until you can't get it out of your head. Case in point, "Mad at myself". Inherently a bad, cheesy song. But that shit wears you down.

    Cycling is Great and you enjoy it. Why wouldn't you want more people to like it. You said healthy people and a healthy planet was your goal. How do you achieve that? Advocate by being a good exqmple as to why people should cycle. It will give people a good example and offset all the bad examples you've seen--which do nothing but bring those who do it for the right reasons down to their level. Plus, you can do it without wearing spandex... *shudders

    Other people's reasons for enjoying or engaging in cycling shouldn't hinder your ability to enjoy and engage in it. It should keep you on track to set that good example so others will follow in your treads (;) had to do it).

    So toss out your concerns of others and focus on your motives for enjoying the thing you've expect been doing advidly, and in shorts year round, for so long.