First, let’s continue your message of non-specificity. The problem of scofflaw behavior is not situated solely in the driving sector or for that matter amongst just cyclists or even pedestrians. This is a systemic societal problem that is only getting worse. It would seem that nobody wants to obey authority and that includes some former police officers who have threatened to hang by the neck until dead a former candidate for President. Yikes!
Disobedience Is The New Black
I drive a car almost every day. We ride bicycles for pleasure and for shopping usually on the weekends. But the bulk of the riding we do is for fun! I use cycling the way that runners use running. Sure you could run to the grocery store for a carton of eggs, but why bother. Why not unwind alongside a trail for miles while you get yourself mentally and physically centered for the rest of the week?
But there is an element of folks in the society for whom nothing is more certain than that their view of things is ‘Pravda‘. These folks are basically socialists with a tinge of anarchist. Even their music concerts have odd names that deal with social anarchy.
Arguing That Bicycles Should Be Licensed
This is a non-starter. The current Urban Cycling Movement is simply going to reject even the whiff of this notion out of hand. Theirs is a campaign to gain supremacy in the ‘department of victimhood‘. Doing anything that would put numbers to their behavior and forever end the notion that they are blameless is not going to gain any traction.
Automobile drivers already have to be accountable so you won’t get much help from them. But you might be able to ‘wake up the pedestrian throngs‘. Ask anyone who has walked through protected crosswalks while a cyclist was ‘amber gambling‘ or more than likely simply running a red light and they will understand your concerns.
The problem is that you must first identify the differing kinds of cyclists out there. There are basically two groups. One of these groups is probably composed of people who like to ride bicycles. They just do. Many are club members, others just long-time commuters who did it before it was fashionable. These are the folks for whom making a statement is not their primary goal.
- Beatnik – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (OnLine)
- Beat Generation – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (OnLine)
They are likely to be as chagrined as anyone else that cyclists have seemingly run amok. But there is a second group. This group is primarily political and bicycling is kind of like a prop for them. Think back to the Beat Generation era when folks were making statements with poetry in clubs. We have that sort of thing happening all over again, but this time the coolness has been supplanted by anarchy with a whiff of socialism.
This group is gaining ascendancy within the Urban Cycling Movement largely by keeping activities like the Chicago Critical Mass Ride up and running long past its ‘sell by date‘.
These sorts of activities are important because they help maintain the Us-versus-Them mentality that is so very vital to the idea of ‘victimhood‘. As long as you can convince a majority of the sheep who are part of the flock that there are wolves out there ready to devour them, they can be controlled. This controlling group likes to think of themselves as ‘activists‘. Cycling is a mystic kind of ‘nose ring‘ for them. Slap on a few tattoos and ride around naked once a year on your bicycle and you have the recipe for an activist in today’s world.
What these folks lack is much interest in the results that occur from scofflaw behavior. But so long as you can maintain the charade that it is the fault of motorists or pedestrians whenever a cyclist is killed you can keep the sheep from trying to reform the group. The problem is that the number of deaths of pedestrians at the hands of cyclists is growing. This presents a possible crack in the facade of ‘victimhood‘.
This is the one thing that might panic these ‘wolves‘.
I Strongly Agree That Bicycle Should Be Licensed
But the problem is not going to be resolved by red light cameras. In fact these cameras have gotten such a bad reputation (and deservedly so) that this is non-starter. What needs to happen instead is for the ‘sheep‘ to become empowered.
They are being told that theirs is a fight for survival. If they do not behave in a manner consistent with the viewpoint of the ‘wolves‘ that they will be devoured. All manner of ‘stunts‘ are being planned and have been pulled by the ‘wolves‘ to demonstrate to the sheep and to society in general that none of the laws that apply to automobiles and pedestrians should really be applied to cyclists.
And if you insist on applying them anyway, then we cyclists should be at the very bottom of the list of individuals ‘made to obey‘. The ‘wolves‘ have literally reduced obeying red lights to ‘strategizing‘. That is to say, we are not going to stop for them when we can skillfully negotiate intersections without getting caught.
- Ride, hustle, kill, repeat: the underground cycle gangs of Los Angeles | Cities | The Guardian (PDF)
And that is indeed what happens virtually every weekend in LA as bicycle groups actually practice their skills at lawbreaking. But it takes place here in Chicago as well.
Until we restore some semblance of respect for authority nothing will or even can change. What is more the ‘anarchist‘ in the ‘wolves‘ feeds on the notion that authority is something other than everyone. They instead see it situated in the hands of the 1%. So for them disobedience is a duty as well as an honor. And of course the sheep do what sheep do, they follow.
Fix this problem and you can change the future. Otherwise prepare to have bicyclists run red lights just because they can. When the sentiment is that you simply have to take rather than share all bets are off!