Wednesday, January 11, 2012

An Epiphany in Cyclist-Driver Relations

As I'm at home sick today, I thought I'd catch up on some news, and what better way to do so than access my favourite online news source, None, that's right. Not The Washington Post, not The Times and definitely not The Age (which actually is shit).

"What's holding us up?"
"Ah, not sure. A bicycle or a tractor or something."

And was I disappointed? No I was not. Because I found a fantastic article that makes some groundbreaking and profound assertions that are sure to change the way drivers and cyclists view each other. Pretty exciting though, isn't it? OK, here's the headline (my palms are sweaty);

Bicycle battles: Illegal riders deserve tickets, good riders deserve caution

What do you think? I know the headline alone might not be enough to properly communicate what this writer, journalist, philosopher is espousing, so let's look deeper into the prose that is the article. I have taken the liberty of making a few comments (in blue). Some of you may feel that this has broken the flow of this beautifully written piece, however, I feel it's necessary to expand and elaborate on the points somewhat as many of you are likely not smart enough to properly access the real meaning of this composition.

OK, here it is;

After a collision between a water tanker and pickup truck passing a bicyclist on Sheep Creek Road last month, an officer cited the driver of the pickup. The ticketed driver had tried to pass the bicyclist on a corner where he shouldn’t have, the officer concluded.

And so the outrage begins again.

OK, here we go. The outrage is beginning again now. Ready?

Many people in our community believe bicycles have no place on the roads and should be removed.

One can sympathize. Many bicyclists, perhaps even the majority, deserve the outrage heaped upon them. They flagrantly disobey traffic signs. They fail to signal their movements. They make nuisances of themselves by declining to pull to the right while in traffic lanes. They fail to wear adequate warning lights and reflective gear.

Totally. And I would go so far as to say that it is definitely the majority of cyclists who deserve the outrage that is heaped upon them. I mean, where do cyclists get off? They (and by "they" I mean all of them, every cyclist) are so naughty. Where are their wanting lights, for a start? I need to be warned. And just the other day, I saw a cyclist say to a stop sign, "No! I will not stop. I disobey you!" No respect whatsoever. We definitely need to be more outraged. We are clearly not outraged enough. If we were, this diabolical state of affairs would be halted. Everyone knows that all it takes to fix a problem is to heap outrage on it. Still a problem? Heap more outrage on it. More! More! MORE!!!

Those who violate the law in such fashion deserve to be ticketed just as much as any vehicle driver.

OK, at this point the author is clearly toning down their rhetoric so as not to scare off the liberals. But I can read between the lines. What is meant here is; "Cyclists who violate the law in such fashion deserve to be shot." Totally.

But those who do not violate the law should not receive the community’s condemnation. The law, after many years of refinement, is grounded in common sense and practicality. It allows bicycles on many roads, and it works the vast majority of the time.

Hang on a second. What are you saying here? That those who don't break the law should not be shot? Even cyclists? Well, it sounds a little radical to me but go on, I'm listening...

That’s because bicycles are similar in nature to other legal, slow-moving vehicles. Farm tractors, front-end loaders, cars with transmission problems and slow-moving motorhomes all are occasional occupants of our roadways. We all know what to do when faced with such obstacles. We slow down and pass when it’s safe.

Totally! Bicycles are just like tractors! I was just thinking that the other day. Like, a tractor moves at about half a mile an hour and is 100 feet wide. Just like a bicycle! And cars with transmission problems! Plagues of the road. But you're right, you just have to slow down and pass when it's safe. Wow man. Deep.

Why does a lawful cyclist often engender venomous words from drivers, when he asks nothing more of them than the same caution required in the presence of other slow vehicles? One reason is the aforementioned bad behavior. The other reason is that even lawful bicyclists raise the stress level of passing drivers more than tractors and other such well-armored denizens of the roadways. Bicyclists are so exposed. They occasionally lose control and fly off in erratic directions. An accident easily could be fatal. Most drivers don’t appreciate that additional stress added to their commute.

Totally. I get so stressed when there's a bicycle around. What's it going to do next? Fly off in an erratic direction? Probably. Lose control? No doubt. Fail to be armoured? Absolutely. Die? Mos def. Seriously, people talk about shell-shock. Nothing compared to passing a bicycle.
(As an aside, I also get stressed by beggars, dogs, old elevators and Christians. I would like them all banned).

But, really, the stress should be far less than that created by other, more hazardous features on the roads — stray boards, mattresses, dogs, moose, ice. Curse them. Let the well-behaved cyclist ride in peace.


Totally. Finally, someone with some clout is revealing to the world the modern-day curse that is the mattress. And yes, dogs, as I said. Dogs are so hazardous. The other day, I was driving along in my Buick and I hit this stupid mutt and it dented my bumper. Hazard!

There are some really insightful comments on this article which can be read here. Word.

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