Getting Beyond Being Pollyanna in Rose Colored Glasses


Mum’s the word?

Posted by Skip Montanaro on November 24, 2012

We’ve all had our near misses, and I’m sure the recent deaths of three cyclists in the Chicago area has that risk on everyone’s minds. So, how much do you tell your spouse/significant other/kids/parents/etc about your near misses?

I used to tell my wife about all my close encounters. I haven’t told her about my latest near miss though. Her mom already thinks bikes should be relegated to padded tubes far from cars, and never fails to voice her disapproval about bike commuting whenever the topic of riding in the city comes up in conversation. So, this time I kept my mouth shut when I got home. I don’t think the details of the incident are all that important, though it has stuck with me for the past week or two, making it one that stood out.

So, what about you? Do you regale your family with all your near misses or do you try to avoid worrying them and keep your mouth shut some, most or all of the time?

Bike Federation of Wisconsin – logo

Part of the ChainLink Forum narrative on cycling is akin to the GOPs Eleventh Commandment:

Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.

It runs like this:

Never admit that cycling can be dangerous. It scares away potential ridership.

Everyone wants to dispel the fear of cyclings dangers, even the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin has this to say:

Bicycling has an undeserved bad rap when it comes to safety.  Riding a bicycle is incredibly safe already, and the crash rate has decreased steadily for the last 15 years or so. Yet when you ask people what their greatest fear is about riding a bike, the answer is often, “Getting hit by a car.” As long as you follow these tips below and obey the law, you can join the more than 2.5 million people who enjoy safe bicycle rides in Wisconsin every year.

This quote appears in a blog entry titled Share and Be Aware. This particular entry is all about the dangers of cycling.

Some ChainLinkers may not realize it but they actually contribute to the overall problem out there because rather than facing the issue of safety with a useful set of strategies they piggyback off the sometimes alcohol musings of a section of their tribe in ways that amount to stress relief with no real objective:

Reply by Michelle Stenzel 15 minutes ago
I tell my husband about them but he’s not as anxious about riding in the city as it sounds like your wife is. If it causes her a lot of anxiety, I’d say spare her the stress and share your tales with us instead on the Near Miss thread.

This is the sort of wisdom offered on the ChainLink when trying to deal with that unavoidable knot that forms in the pit of the stomach when you see your life flash by in your mind in a near collision. This is about as effective an approach as being upset by your boss at the office and coming home to either kick the dog, beat your wife or getting drunk.

What ChainLinkers should instead be doing is combing the annals of Vehicular Cycling to digest strategies for coping with unruly traffic situations. One ChainLinker who goes by the handle ‘h tried to pooh-pooh some of the Vehicular Cycling message in a thread on how not to get doored.

The Dooring Guide
Click to Enlarge

He tried to refer to a graphic showing how to ride in lanes that are positioned in the Door Zone by saying:

Reply by h’ on Thursday

Ironically, several of the cyclists we’ve lost in recent years would probably still be alive if they had adhered to the “no” rather than the “yes” in this image.

One-size-fits-all advice can be as dangerous as no advice at all sometimes.

Vehicular Cycling is anything but a “one-size-fits-all” approach to bicycle driving. But this is the kind of blathering that is part of the daily fare on the ChainLink Forum. It is your one stop source for pretentious urban hipsters who between assaults on the beer taps in their area are given to dispensing their brand of wisdom on all things cycling-related. Avoid this stuff at all costs. It is poison and as my grandmother would say “foolishness“.

Find a League Certified Instructor and get enrolled in a class. Tell the hipsters on fixed gear bikes whose only claim to fame is that they can do ice hockey stops on their bikes in situations which are beyond dangerous and have survived more than one alley cat race on the streets of Chicago.

These folks are not cyclists but instead thrill seekers. They can and will get you killed if you cannot perform at their level and find yourself facing an imminent door-ing while chugging along on your alley cat racer-inspired fixed gear bicycle. Do not become a Darwin Award recipient if you can avoid it.

Learn from the folks who train the police bicycle patrol teachers.