From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 09.09.07:
Cyclists need to soft-pedal their wantsOh, don't I love this kind of reactionary nonsense. As many contributers to the SFBIKE listserve have illustrated in the past, replace every reference to "bicyclists" or "bikers" with some traditionally marginalized group (pedestrians, African Americans, gays, women, immigrants) and you'll recognize the real hate expressed here. "I have no problem with [oppressed group]...but the [oppressed group's] extremists are simply going too far..."
Daily letters from "insulted," "offended," "shocked" and "outraged" readers are printed in the P-I. A few of those grouchy letters have been mine. Nearly all my complaints dealt with one topic: bicycling.
So, what's my problem?
I have nothing against bikes, bikers, bike clubs or bike trails. But it's not the bikes or everyday cyclists that concern me: It's the in-your-face radical activists and their two-wheel orgies...
In my opinion, most high-profile biking spokes-men come across as demanding not engaging, hostile not cooperative. If only their messages stressed the healthy pleasures of biking instead of peddling ultimatums, I'd be more sympathetic to their constant wheedling for more joy-riding paths, perks and roadway accommodations...
Feel as grumpy about all this as I do, readers? Then join me in writing your own cranky "distressed" letter. Let's stir up some opposition to the King Kong biking dynasty in our midst by goading local newspapers to start providing as much ink about our apprehensions as they do for those operatic biker jihads. (Read more.)
Seattle has a "King Kong biking dynasty"?!? Um, right. I bet Seattle's cyclists will be surprised to learn that. The poorly informed misrepresentations featured in this screed are typical:
- bicyclists are "freeloading sponges" (actually, we do pay sales and income taxes used to maintain local roads, which are excessively exploited by motorists)What the author is really saying is that the (auto-dominated) status quo suits him fine, and any push for reasonable change is objectionable. He is offended by, um, well, politics. If we simply ride our bikes quietly, no problem. When we organize to express grievances and demand improvements, then big problem.
- we are threats/enemies to other non-motorized travelers (actually poorly designed shared use facilities encourage conflicts)
- our self-serving campaigns "piggyback" on worthy selfless causes (actually, bike advocates are often the most effective component of most livability campaigns)
What bicyclists really demand is equality; a share of public resources commensurate with our numbers. As one bicyclist once wisely stated:
Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on our public roads, just as does every other user. Nothing more is expected. Nothing less is acceptable.Image: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. Bicycling extremists inconveniencing motorists
Visit: Delucchi Study Finds That U.S. Motorists Do Not Pay Their Way, Streetsblog
Visit: The cost of commuting by bicycle, Northwest Pacific Institute
Visit: Paul Dorn's Bike Commuting Tips