Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Attitude Check

One of the complaints regularly leveled at cyclists by motorists is, "They think they own the road!"

Perhaps a better way to express the true sentiment would be, "They don't acknowledge the fact that I own the road!"

After all, they go on to accuse cyclists of sometimes occupying a whole traffic lane! They accuse cyclists of not paying their fair share, since they don't register their bicycles. They complain that we're on the road, instead of the sidewalk. They explain, in detail, why the laws of physics favor their 5000-pound Super Duty over the 25-pound bike, should a collision occur. And they even accuse us of being "uppity"!

(Uppity [Websters]: Putting on or marked by airs of superiority.)

Many of their complaints are born of ignorance. If you never ride a bike, and are unfamiliar with traffic laws regarding bicycles, it's natural to be ignorant about transportation cycling.

Sometimes it's safer to "take the lane," than to squeeze the edge of the lane and have cars speeding by, with mirrors bumping your elbow.

Unless a cyclist doesn't own a motor vehicle, and is homeless, he's indeed contributing to the construction and maintenance of the road infrastructure. (In the current fiscal year for our local road agency, $31.7 million of the $78.7 million budget comes from property taxes.) Granted, a cyclist doesn't pay a gas tax for rolling over the pavement... but I would argue that the gas tax is by far the closest thing to a fair "user fee" for the roads, when mileage, wear and tear, etc., are factored in.

But how about that "uppity" thing?


We live in a culture where your vehicle says a lot about you. There is no way that can be denied.

The guy on the radio, just this morning, said, "You are what you drive."

In fact, the vehicle driven by a US Senate candidate in Massachusetts has become a news story. He drives an old beater pickup and mentions it when campaigning; President Obama dismisses it, saying, "Anybody can own a truck."

The "pickup war" has been going on for as long as I can remember. REAL men drive Ford pickups! No... Chevy pickups! NO! Dodge pickups!

You even see decals on some of those trucks, with the little boy urinating on the logo of the rival pickup. That says a lot about the mentality and attitude of the pickup owner, no?

More recently, "green" car owners have been accused of being snooty. Because they are saving the planet, they think they own the road!! (And everybody knows that the Law of Natural Selection favors the F350 over the Prius any day!! haha! Actually, that is far from factual... look what happened to dinosaurs from earlier in history!)

Are cyclists "superior"?


Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually!

But my friends, we shouldn't let our superiority color our behavior in traffic, any more than the guy in the F350 gets right-of-way over the poor schmoe in a meager F150! Let's avoid that "air of superiority," but rather share the road freely and fairly with the losers, inferiors, ignorants, and incompetents.


Clancy said...

I follow what you are saying(I saw the wink) but I kinda like this approach too. Add some Humanity back into our day to day lives.


Clancy said...

Shorter link: http://bit.ly/8dPDLv

Bikeboy said...

Thanks for your reliable "voice of reason," Clancy! Now and then I have to compose something "provocative" just to cement my "Bike Nazi" credentials! haha

That is an excellent piece. Yep, ultimately it's people - our friends, family, and neighbors - on those bikes AND in those cars!

Marrock said...

I like to inform them when they decide that I have no place in the lane... "You own a car, not the road"...

And if they insist I should be on the sidewalk, I tell them "Can't, clowns will eat me"...