When you see other people on two wheels ‘driving recklessly‘ you cringe because they too are cyclists. But are they really? Not everyone on a bicycle is worthy of the struggle and some of your best supporters will get around either on foot or four wheels all the time. Wisdom comes in knowing who the ‘real cyclists’ are. A bicycle should never be treated as if it were a ‘nose ring’. Cycling is not a lifestyle it is a transportation choice. No less a cyclist than Mikael Colville-Andersen tried to make this point in a very interesting fashion.
He has a very meaningful sticker that he developed to emphasize this point. Bicycles and the choice to use them is like buying a home appliance, say a vacuum cleaner.
You do not define your friends by the type of floor cleaner they use, do you? If they choose to use a broom, fine. If they use a vacuum cleaner, great. These are appliances, not lifestyles.
The same is true of bicycles. We have gone off the ‘deep end‘ by surrounding ourselves with the notion that someone who ‘drives a bicycle to work‘ is somehow quite different than someone who walk, talks mass transit or drives an SUV.
In point of fact we sometimes decide that the kind of car they drive is a signifier of their inherent ‘badness‘ when compared to a cyclist. To my mind that is bad thinking. You can find folks who ride the simplest of bicycles in the roughest of clothing are a big a jerk as the guy driving the BMW while wearing a cashmere coat.
We as humans need to understand this conundrum. Part of the problem is that we are focused on the vacuum cleaner and not the job being done with it. If the carpet gets cleaned thoroughly by whatever means that should be the defining factor.
If a person drives a car to work or walks or rides a bike and then decides to eat nothing but corn fed beef and bacon for the remainder of their lives they have made a choice. I refuse to think less of them for not being a vegan. I know some vegans who would gladden the heart of Hitler himself. So there is no real virtue in choosing a plant-based food source if I am willing to slaughter my fellow humans instead.
Telling people who ride on two wheels that they are being reckless and perhaps building up lots of ‘bad Karma‘ that someone else is likely to have to deal with it the ‘responsible way to live‘.
It is not your beliefs that make you a good person, it is your behavior.