Tuesday, February 15

Deconstructing Common Anti-Cyclist Sentiments #1

Anti-cycling Sentiment #1

"They're always riding three abreast and blocking the lane. Its not safe to pass. If they rode single file blah, blah, blah."

The other day I was riding to work along the Clear Creek Trail, a multi-use path that strings together Denver, Wheat Ridge, Arvada and Golden. I rounded a bend in a wooded area and saw three elderly pedestrians walking abreast with their backs to me. I approached slowly, hoping they would notice so I wouldn’t have to decide on "On your left" or "On your right," but they didn't. I slowed to a crawl and called out "Excuse me". The middle walker stepped to the side, leaving a gap between the other two who slowed and meandered in confusion. The middle one said, with just a tinge of exasperation, "It's another cyclist."

Excuse me?! Sorry, no matter how much of the trail I decide to take up on my way to work, I'm still only taking up as much as any other single user. They were taking up the whole trail, oblivious to any other user.

I understand that once you’re older the prospect of being struck by a cyclist while out getting your morning exercise could be stressful. That's specifically why I didn’t blaze by on the edge of the trail in righteous anger. In courtesy I slowed down, called out and waited until they had time to make way. And I was greeted with disdain.

I have a feeling that Ms. Exasperation may also be of the ilk that would complain when cyclists ride side by side on the road, "prohibiting" her from passing safely. I'd love to check her wheel well and undercarriage for mangled body parts and bicycle components.

I myself become exasperated when cyclists ride side by side or three or more abreast especially when they could ride on the shoulder or when they're in no hurry to get on down the road. And when cyclists take up the whole MUP it's just as annoying for other cyclists as it is for pedestrians, equestrians and aviators.

But why does Ms. Exasperation feel as if it is okay for her and her cronies to take up the whole path, but for another user to come along and break up their party is detestable? I imagine it is a strong sense of selfish entitlement that breeds that attitude. And that is the underlying foundation of the sentiment that "it's so unsafe" to pass cyclists who are not riding single file. It's not so much that motorists are scared to death to pass in a curve or against the double yellow line; because any time it suits them to do so they go ahead and do it. I think it's more "You're inhibiting my God-given right to go anywhere I want as fast as I am comfortable going and I don't like it." Of course to express their thoughts that way would reduce their credibility, so they have to craft this argument that cyclists are creating a situation that endangers everyone involved. In fact, the car is the most dangerous element in the equation, with its gargantuan weight and potential for deadly speed. A bike really does not threaten anything. How can it?

The way most motorists pass a cyclist who is alone, or a group that's riding single file, is typically unsafe. Why do motorists so blatantly disregard the safety of cyclists (and other non-motorized users of the roads) and try to pin the blame on the other users? Why won’t they accept their commensurate level of responsibility? The answer: a strong sense of selfish entitlement. My road. My rights. I pay taxes. Blah, blah, blah.

It doesn't matter if cyclists ride single file. The moto-fascists just come up with some other responsibility-shifting argument about why no one else is entitled to the roads. If we ride single file the roads are too dangerous. If we ride in dedicated bike lanes or on segregated paths too much money has gone into developing that infrastructure. The only right answer for moto-fascists is "no bikes." Or at least nothing that costs motorists anything. Again, the want of something for nothing. I want to use the road, but on my terms alone.

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