Don’t Mistake Inconsistency for Hypocrisy

Background Reading




  • A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — ‘Ah, so you shall be sure to be misunderstood.’ — Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood.

Great Movements Require Unfettered Thinkers

One of the things that irritates many of the ‘bicycle haters‘ of today is the seeming indifference cyclists have to their faults versus those of say the driving public. It makes these small minded people livid that in the past we bicyclists have belittled the use of reflective gear and lights (when demanded as part of an actual law) and yet have this year decided to embrace the use of lights.

It is quite likely that should we have a movement-wide campaign to embrace the use of the bicycle helmet these same ‘bicycle haters‘ will complain that once again we appear to be failing in regards to maintaining a consistent position on the use of helmets.

Now we are likely to face yet more criticism and ridicule over the fact that while we abhor the use of texting by motorists we are now admitting that we do not find it as problematic when we attempt to ride a bicycle while texting.

The reasoning of one lawyer is not unlike that of the former NYTimes ethicist who offered a defense of running red lights and blowing stop signs by admitting that while these were illegal, the danger was to ourselves and not to others. We are the only ones with ‘skin in the game‘. And as you might expect some folks offer up that bicyclists have done these things with devastating effect. Pedestrians have died and indeed cyclists as well. They try to belittle our freedom to justify our risk-taking by citing the fact that even our own deaths are inconsistent with the conceptual aims of ‘Vision Zero‘.

But we steadfastly reject the idea that any seeming contradictory positions on our part can serve as evidence that we are a confused lot. It is wrong on the part of these ‘bicycle haters‘ to suggest that a superfluity of bicycles in Copenhagen has anything to do with the glut of parking lots in places like Chicago.

We continue to maintain that bicycles are so small that even if everyone in the city used one as basic transportation it would still make sense to tear down every parking garage in the city and ban the cars that once filled them. In addition the city need only provide us with enough on sidewalk bike locking spaces to allow cyclists to ride right up to the doors of their offices.

And should this mean that some benches and outdoor eating spots had to be sacrificed to accommodate the bikes to be parked, so be it. It is far better for there to be more bikes than walkable spaces in the business district than the other way around.