Urban Cycling Has Its ‘RFRA’ Moment

Background Reading


We have long as cyclists been laboring under a delusion. We have been told time and again that Cars Kill, Bicycles Don’t.

But we now know that is untrue. The next line of defense of ourselves is to point to the absolute and factual rarity of lawsuits against cyclists that have resulted from our collisions with pedestrians.

I have read so very many times this lame excuse that it rankles no end.

It should never matter how many times a lawsuit has been brought and won. We are I hope in the business of creating an environment in which Vision Zero is possible.

That means that every death matters. All lives matter. Black lives matter. Female lives matter. You get the idea. But we are busy emulating those we claim to despise for their personal splitting of hairs in obeying their religion.

Urban Cyclists Have Their Own #RFRA Problems

This past weekend exposed yet again the two most regrettable things about the Urban Cycling Movement:

  • The Urban Cycling Movement is a religion
  • It restricts its concern for others only to those riding ‘real bicycles

Let’s tackle the claim that UCM is a religion. Well it has two things any good religion has to have:

  • A Holy LandBicycle Heaven (a conflation of the geographic regions known as Copenhagen and Amsterdam)
  • A Pope – A self-proclaimed guardian of the Truth About Bicycling

But to this we might add a third thing that is usually associated with all religions:

  • They have their own burial rituals and rites reserved only for The Faithful

Our burial ritual is a rite performed by priests in the Church of Urban Cycling. Rather than planting headstones we plant ‘ghost bikes‘. The Faithful actually visit these virtual gravesite and tend them. They leave everything from candles to flowers and more.

But like religious burial grounds they too have restrictions. You may not have a ‘ghost bike‘ or have your death be remembered if you were not on a bicycle at the time of your demise. For instance if you were an elderly triathlete who was a member of a NYC Bicycle Club who was training in Central Park and died from being run over by a fellow cyclist you probably got no ghost bike and may not as a result have your virtual grave visited when the Ride of Silence comes around each year. Why is that?

Like Conservative Christians, Cyclists Have Limits

We have not yet written our objections to having to treat fairly those who die by our own hands. But much as the Tea Party we are often as bigoted as they and we are either ignorant of our bigotry or arrogant despite it.

The Chicago Whine and Jeez Club Bicycle Forum was discussing the other day whether a bicyclists who was riding a bicycle frame with a two-stroke motor attached and suffered a hit-and-run accident should be included among the list of cyclists suffering collisions.

That got me to thinking that here too is another instance of people splitting hairs in defense of their religion. Such bicycles are allowed in bike lanes. In fact we have had discussions here in Chicago about their presence. But they are not alone. There are velomobiles (commercially sold) that are capable of electric-assist riding. They have canopies and even solar panels on top to recharge their onboard batteries.

And yet these bicycles and recumbent trikes with e-assist are considered by many bicyclists as ‘not real bicycles‘. The distinction is interesting because it implies that should a person on one of these contraptions be killed while riding one, their place on the Ride of Silence Route is not assured.

Well like the pizza parlor folks who will let you buy pizza, but stop at being unwilling to cater your wedding, we members of the Urban Cycling Movement have our standards as well.

If a car runs down a pedestrian or even another cyclist, we have all sorts of outrage we are willing to show. But if a fellow cyclist runs down another cyclist or worse yet performs a hit-and-run on a jogger along the Chicago Lakefront Trail, well then all bets are off. And frankly we will trot out our favorite lapdogs from StreetsBlog to explain just how rare collisions between bicycles and pedestrians are to help justify turning a blind eye to the problem of reckless bicyclist behavior.

I am guessing that the pedestrians killed in San Francisco and NYC will not be honored or remembered this year. Why? Well it goes to the very heart of our self-proclaimed ‘victimhood‘. We must protect that at all costs.