[*BCM*] My Thoughts - Cycling Culture
legodude at hammycorp.com
Mon Apr 9 10:15:54 EDT 2007
I would like to start off by saying that these are just my personal
observations, and I make no claim as to their veracity, or that there is
any hard evidence supporting them. I started cycling seven years ago,
first in high school and continuing through college so my perceptions
are really only of young people, I don't necessarily think what I write
would apply to the 45yr old commuting to work every day.
I think others have done a very good job of bringing up many of the
difficulties facing us as cyclists - bad drivers, bad laws, bad roads,
etc - and I don't disagree at all that these are very real problems.
However, I also think there is a side of cycling that has been not
addressed so directly: cycling culture is not based around safety as a
paramount goal, and is often hypocritical in its condemnation of drivers
and traffic laws.
Just as driving like an jerk is fun, biking like a jerk is fun. We have
these sexy machines with good handling, good acceleration, and an
intimate coupling with the rider and use them on often
dangerous/challenging roads. But whereas driving like a jerk is very
hard to rationalize, biking like a jerk is easy to rationalize, and is
even celebrated by cycling culture. We tell ourselves that we can weave
in and out of traffic, ride the wrong way on streets, that we can blow
through stop signs and stop lights, that we don't need to signal our
intentions to drivers, etc. I see the stereotypical bike messenger (a la
"Lucas Brunelle") - fixed gear, no helmet, weaving in and out of traffic
with no regard for laws - as having set the tone for urban cycling.
Combine this with the other positive aspects of cycling -
environmentally friendly, exercising, etc - and it produces as sense of
entitlement which is frankly dangerous. Even if we don't cycle like
madmen, it is simply not cool to ride in what I consider a safe and
At the end of the day, the only thing we can change for sure is our own
behavior: laws may never get changed, drivers may always be jerks, etc,
but we can individually ride safer. Just as a couple bad drivers color
our view of all drivers, a couple bad cyclists make all cyclists look
bad; every time one of us rides dangerously it has an effect on all of us.
thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts
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