[*BCM*] Seattle CM turns ugly
TSmith4918 at aol.com
TSmith4918 at aol.com
Mon Jul 28 11:35:44 EDT 2008
thoughtful response Anne, but I wasn't suggesting that CM is a vehicle for
enlightenment; rather, it was some comment on the stereotype of the laid-back
northwesterner who I thought would be somewhat more receptive to bike-culture
even if it presents itself in a confrontation. I think you're right that
the comments would be the same anywhere: I guess I had romantic hopes for
Seattle. Must be too much coffee/caffeine injected into the citizenry over the
past few decades.
As for thuggery: the posted notes on the Seattle blog (and elsewhere on
the web) reveal a more pointed and violent animosity towards the two-wheelers
than a bunch of folks winging around the city once a month. Though the
threats ("I'm gunning for you" etc) may be only fetid air from a frustrated
windbag, as a biker they make my ears perk up. Cars and car culture can bring out
the worst in people and I can speak for myself on this; (not sure I can say
the same about bikes).
In a message dated 7/28/2008 9:04:39 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
goannego at gmail.com writes:
What's to be enlightened about? The guy in the car was wrong, very wrong.
The people mobbing around him were wrong, very wrong. Neither side comes
off looking well. Drivers will sympathise with the driver as soon as they
hear that CM blocked off lanes of traffic, held up other cars and then wound up
clocking the guy and smashing things when he panicked at being surrounded by
a mob baying for his blood. Cyclists will sympathise that yet another
lunatic doesn't know how to handle cycles on the road went berserk and tried to use
his car to get the cyclists out of the way, causing mayhem. Quite frankly,.
I think that incident would have had the same comments had it occurred
anywhere else in the nation.
It is classic human behaviour. Cyclists don't tend to care too much on a
day to day basis about cars so long as they don't interfere with their cycling.
For every driver that nearly cuts them off, hundreds go by without incident
or notice. Drivers don't tend to care too much on a day to day basis about
bikes so long as they don't interfere with their driving. For every CM that
opts to slow cars down by blocking both lanes of traffic with slow moving
traffic, hundreds of cyclists go by without notice or incident, even more so now
that gas is $4 a gallon. Pedestrians don't care about either so long as they
don't mount the sidewalk and interfere with walking. But as soon as
boundaries get crossed, conflict ensues and people get reactionary and all over the
place as soon as they have to defend a position they may not have thought
anything about previously, and are now on the spot to articulate. Plus, being
controversial gets press and attention paid.
If you want to enlighten people, generally antagonising them isn't the best
way to go. And retaliation is never the way to go. Why did civil
disobedience work? Because when these people were beaten, etc etc etc, they let
themselves get carted off to jail or wherever without retaliating. That keeps the
focus on the issue, and not permitting a "they deserved it, look how they
fought back" mentality. This tends to apply across the board. I see it a lot
in the sports I play. One side may be playing sneaky, but as soon as the
other side retaliates, measures come down harder for retaliation as we're
supposed to be big boys and girls and run the set channels, not take matters into
our own hands.
I am in no way supporting what the driver did. He took a hunk of metal,
panicked and harmed people. But you better believe that if what had happened
was that CM took one lane of traffic (thus permitting another lane for faster
traffic whatever number of wheels it had), thus not antagonising, and then had
dealt with the incident had it still happened by photographing it, calling
the police, ambulance and safety services and so on, public opinion would be
well on CMs side, and thus be looking at enlightenment. As it stands now,
people who might never have heard of CM and would support it will now think,
correctly or not, that it is nothing but a thuggish mob. And it will take a lot
longer to fix that perception than it has to create it.
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