Am I Missing Something?

I came across a thread in which a respondent was discussing the handing out of tickets to misbehaving (scofflaw) cyclists. One of the respondents said this:




This might have been delivered in jest, but there is more than a ‘hint of meant‘ here.

Cyclists as a class are a bit more than arrogant when it comes to their place in history. And to some degree these views fall along two distinct lines of thought:

Stevie Ray Vaughan

Please take care of yourselves and those you love; because that is what we are here for.

Alan Watts

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.

The Vaughan View

We Cyclists love to use language which seems to convey that we care about everyone. And in fact the notion of Vision Zero fits neatly into such a world view. It is comforting to think that not a single life is less valuable than any other. We all count. ‘All Lives Matter‘. But that is probably a more magnanimous view than that we actually possess.

We like most people are fairly narrow-minded. We look out for ourselves and that finds it way through our subconscious into our speech. And for that reason if you really want to see the heart of a movement take a look at what its membership says.

The Watts View

Most Urban Cyclists are as convinced as the Tea Party from which their mindset springs that their view is on the ‘right side of history‘.  Resistance is futile where bicycle infrastructure is concerned. And whenever we meet a situation that inconveniences us in the slightest we dredge up a view that justifies out behavior.

It used to be that everyone agreed that Cars Kill, Bicycles Don’t. That lie has morphed into Cars Kill, Bicycles Are Less Deadly. In fact on forums where we report the recklessness of motorists we write the word this way, reckless. But when a cyclist hits a pedestrians and a suit is brought we describe the cyclists actions as “reckless“.

This is intended to convey our skepticism at the very notion that a cyclist could be reckless. That sort of behavior is unbefitting someone who ‘should be treated as privileged‘. And therein lies the rub.

The Messiah Thingy

Somewhere along  the line we became convinced that like the Tea Party ours is a privileged and indeed charmed life. We give lip service to being part of a vulnerable segment of society (i.e. pedestrians and cyclists) but frankly we could really do without them underfoot (or tire).

We do not need them to change the world. All we have to do is get permission to remove every goddam car parking spot from every ward in the city and all will be sweetness and light. Oops!

Our erstwhile writer at StreetsBlog must have awakened from a stupor the other day to pen this piece:

in which he tries to deal with the reality of removing parking and the devastation the loss of its revenue would bring up the city, ward-by-ward. But these folks at StreetsBlog are clueless when it comes to the really stupid things they back:

How else would you describe the 606 which is one-fifth as long as the Cal-Sag Trail and yet costs 5 times as much? Well at present the idea is to ignore this discrepancy and to focus on yet another boondoggle of expensive infrastructure that brings not a damn thing to the table other than another dreary bit of petty journalism that is wrung out of the sad lives of journalists who are trying as Watts puts it ‘to join the dance‘.

Having lived long enough to see ‘sure things‘ come and go, I am dubious that anything approaching reality will transpire with respect to the transformation of the American Public into bicyclists on the scale of that seen in Amsterdam.

But it is not the lack of will of Americans that stands in the way. It might just be the arrogance of believing that above everyone else (including wounded veterans who drive adaptive motor vehicles) your position in the pecking order of life is the most vaunted.