I would love to see a study showing which sports groups spending the most time imbibing alcohol and smoking weed. I am guessing that the Urban Cycling Movement would be over-represented in such a survey.
I base this upon the fact that the single largest groups on the Chicago ‘Whine and Jeez Club’ Cycling Forum is comprised of folks who deliberately ride from bar to bar drinking beer, smoking weed and do so on their bicycles at top speed.
Fortunately they reserve this sort of stupidity for late hours of the evening (but not necessarily weekends). Not certain why the two things (bicycling and beer drinking) seem to pair so very well, but obviously they do.
The only way to exceed the wild conflation of these would be the BeerWagon that is essential a huge bicycle on wheels where every ride has a bar stool and a set of pedals. Presumably at least one rider in the group is sober and is steering the damn thing.
The real problem here is that this kind of behavior is so very welcomed and accepted in our general culture. It is no wonder that drivers and cyclists are usually out on the roads drunk and reckless. But in such mashups we cyclist almost always lose. So why then are we so very willing to foster the growth of this culture?
What is even more absurd is that we have this high sounding piece of horse-crap known as Vision Zero. How on Earth does a group that espouses ‘perfection‘ when it comes ‘all things transportation‘ then turn around and behave like the folks they think need reforming?
My experience is that any bike club with the motto:
Beer Is The Answer!
is likely to have a huge collection of lushes in its ranks. And sooner or later one or more of them is going to succumb to serious injury while riding or driving drunk. Humans are woefully inept at judging the level of sobriety that they possess. So either they will hit someone else (and sadly kill or serious injure them) or will be hit and possibly killed themselves. It is just a matter of time.
So why then do we have this charade of doing the Ride of Silence on a yearly basis to in essence protest the recklessness of drivers? I guess the better question is why this charade is held without any mention whatsoever of the pedestrians killed by bicyclists?
Trying To Argue Responsible Drinking
One person wrote me that ‘disciplined human beings are able to detect their levels of sobriety‘. That is a bit like saying that shooting heroin you are able to determine when you are high enough to satisfy your needs.
That is simply not true. We know that the level of intoxication of an individual varies from day-to-day and situation-to-situation. If for instance you are depressed it takes you a good bit more time to stop yourself than if you are in a ‘normal state of mind‘.
But when you exercise (to get healthy) drinking is the very last thing you want to do to reap the benefits of all that exercise. It adds back calories that you intended to burn off, but it also takes a toll on not just your brain but your internal organs.
I know that lots of folks are sensitive about issues involving alcohol. This is especially true with cyclists. They have long had the floor to denounce the actions of drivers who over indulge and then get behind the wheel to head home. But cyclists are doing that (those who drive) and also climbing behind the handlebar to try and get home.
The problem is serious enough in Europe that governments have sought to find ways to ‘fix the problem‘. In fact many of the arrests or detainments of people on the roads for drunkenness are in fact ‘driving bicycles‘.
Here in Chicago there is a young man whose life has been turned upside down because he went out to celebrate his graduation and decided to drink. That led to his being unable to avoid construction work being done on streets. Perhaps he was without lights. That is often a common mistake people make. They like to ride ‘ninja-style‘.
He is now paralyzed for life!
Often this same writer likes to say ‘Be Human‘. That is of course the one thing that people do most often. They strike a blow for their ‘humanity‘ by doing things they should not do. We have a society both here and in Europe where alcohol is the central focus in our socialization. And yet when it comes to things like driving a car, flying an airplane or piloting a ship we demand that those in charge ‘not be human‘ and instead keep us safe.
Well that is a tall order indeed. That would mean that those who have jobs of responsibility have to avoid the social graces that you and I are able to enjoy. But that of course never happens. We already know how wonderfully well the Secret Service has been functioning while lubricated by alcohol.
We have a ‘drinking problem‘. But no one in the society is willing to admit to this excepting of course those in Alcoholics Anonymous. They alone recognize the problem for what it is and most of them have spent a lifetime being unaware of the depth of the damage to themselves and others. So you will pardon my derision at being told that ‘people are able to detect their levels of sobriety‘. They cannot.
Aside from some sort of ‘field sobriety test‘ most folks are unaware of just how drunk they are. That is the reason that the Ad Council publishes pieces about ‘buzz driving‘. People who get caught driving drunk are not different than you or I. They were simply unaware of the depths of their drunkenness.
In point of fact we drink to ‘numb ourselves‘. In short that means we are drinking to get to a state where we are at least mildly unaware of the problems and pressures of the day. We gather together in groups because drinking alone is boring.
But what is really astonishing is the number of folks who report ‘feeling smarter‘ when their sobriety drops. That alone should tell you that nothing about this drug is really what it seems. I long for the day when folks drank in wayside inns.
They either walked home or more likely got a room upstairs and slept off their drunkenness. Today however bicyclist and drivers alike drink to excess and either drive themselves home or bike themselves home in a stupor. What is however most irritating is that when someone dies from these chance encounters in the dark (or in some cases broad daylight) we cluck our tongues and wonder why they did that.
Well the short answer is they were ‘just being human‘. That is what humans do. They find a way to get release and if the thing they are using for that purposes blunts their senses and thus their intellect they are helpless in being responsible.
Note that in our society the problem has gotten to the point that we ask ‘other people‘ to protect us from ourselves. Thus the birth of the ‘designated driver‘. Now note that such a person is not allowed a single drink. If the original writer were correct, we should never need such a person in our lives. Or at least he should be one of those ‘discipline humans‘ who know their limits.
But we know from reality that this is never the case. You cannot for instance begin open heart surgery or for that matter brain surgery with a few drinks under you belt and hope to get the best possible results.
And I should imagine that the only reason that bartenders ever cut people off is due to the prospect of losing their licenses or having a very large law suit brought against them. But why in our society are we even placing the responsibility for ‘good behavior‘ on the shoulders of another person?
The reason is that we know that alcohol incapacitates a person to some degree. And to what depth it does it not easy to determine even when you are the one administering the ‘field sobriety test‘. So society continues to grapple with this scourge and deludes itself into holding vigils for those of its members who managed to either kill themselves or take others with them.
It is almost as if we were arguing for the right to juggle lighted sticks of dynamite and being upset when one of them goes off and injuries or kills someone. This is not a game folks. This is serious stuff. Virtually all of the deadliest accidents on our roadways are the fault of ‘responsible people‘ who knew their limit and got behind the handlebar or the wheel to get themselves home safely and failed miserably.