Tuesday, March 22

If Bike Lanes Equate to Terrorism, Then Just Call Me Osama

I take offense to many of the comments in the New York Magazine article entitled: Not Quite Copenhagen: Is New York too New York for bike lanes? by Matthew Shaer.

Perhaps the most outrageous comment is this tirade, uttered by Jack Brown, a former bike shop owner in the East Village:

"'The anarchy that has been allowed to prevail is astonishing. According to butterfly theory, according to chaos theory, I am sure that the level of emotional and psychological damage wrought by the bicycle far exceeds the damage done by cars.' And then Brown goes there: 'It is homegrown terrorism. The cumulative effect is equivalent to what happened on 9/11.'"


While I will openly agree there is an element within the cycling world that ignore any and all traffic laws, manners and common sense, lumping ALL cyclists in with terrorists is a bit overly dramatic.

When I go out in the morning I don't think "Wonder how many moto-fascists I can annoy today?" I don't go out with the intention of slowing traffic or causing any kind of harm. And while I feel I would be justified in some righteous anger when MFers almost kill me, I do my darnedest to let it go and start out with a clean slate, emotionally speaking, each day.

But if what I, and the masses of cyclists in the world, do each day is akin to terrorism then I will gladly step up and join the ranks of cyclo-terrorists. I'll wear a badge. Put me on the FBI's ten most wanted list. Call me Osama bike Laden.

Really Brown? Bike lanes equivalent to 9/11? You need a stiff dose of reality dude. I'm not even sorry that you have more trouble finding a parking space in New York these days. I could care less that you have to slow down for 1.5 seconds and have to THINK for a split second to decide how you’re going to pass the cyclo-terrorist ahead of you on the boulevard. What is truly terrorism are those who put foot to gas pedal and harass everyone in their path with excessive speeds, reckless behavior and aggressive tendencies, combined with inattention and a strong, but unreasonable, sense of entitlement.

Cars are the real terrors on the road, not bikes, not pedestrians. I recently joked about hitting pedestrians, but I would NEVER consider hitting someone on purpose, and I maintain a speed that is reasonable for me to control, and cease if necessary. I never pass within arms reach of a pedestrian and give them as much space as I can. I can’t say the same for every driver on the road that passes me. In fact, it seems as if some try to see how close they can get.

...

Sorry, the red rage is building up within me and prohibiting the flow of coherent words from my mind. I was planning my next terror-related act.

Home grown terrorism? So I'm like Timothy McVey? When I go out in the morning I am the embodiment of evil. My headlight blinds innocent motorists. My presence fouls the air that passes over me and is a scourge to all who gaze upon my hideousness. I SHOULD be run over on Ridge Road. Right?

Terrorism. The War on Terror. Oh, let's go there! What is the War on Terror, but a huge propaganda campaign designed to bolster popular support for wars for oil resources in foreign lands? What real interest did we have in Iraq? And if we were so keen on bringing the real Osama bin Laden to justice why, after TEN YEARS is he still a free man? Weapons of Mass Destruction? We had "proof" that Hussein had WMD. But then it turned out he never had them after all. Oh, I believe he was a scoundrel, and possibly an evil dictator, but we had no need to go in and root him out. I believed in the propaganda at the time. I believed we needed to oust him. But with the benefit of hindsight, what were we doing there? Why did so many young Americans die and get maimed? What legacy are we leaving behind? I hold the utmost repsect for the willingness of young Americans to serve in the military. But I have no respect for leaders who misrepresent their intentions, and misuse human capital to secure a foothold in the biggest puddle of oil in the world.

New Yorkers who choose a better and more responsible way to travel than the single occupancy (motor) vehicle are members of the same club as Hussein, Qu/G/Khaddafi, McVey, the Unabomber and countless other monsters. At least in the minds of moto-fascists in NYC.

What is truly amazing is that the anti-bike lane rhetoric isn't confined to just the NIMBYs. It is also expelled by elected officials:

"Congressman Anthony Weiner reportedly told (Mayor) Bloomberg that if he becomes mayor, he is 'going to have a bunch of ribbon-¬cuttings tearing out your ******* bike lanes.'"


Wienie later said the comment was just a joke, but Freud would disagree I believe.

To top it all off is Louise Hainline, a Prospect Park resident with way too much time on her hands. Hainline:

"'I’m not saying bikers are ignorant,' she said. 'They’re just holy. They really think they’re doing work for the environment if, instead of taking the car a block, they take the bike to go to the food co-op. That’s touching, and it’s in the right direction. But it’s silly.'"

Well, Ms. Hainline, do you want to know what is truly silly? Believing the SOV is the answer to all of humanity's transportation needs. Believing that someone who wants to make responsible and educated decisions concerning their ecological footprint and legacy for future generations is somehow less valid than you and your decision to drive a block instead of walking. Believing that a slight inconvenience to your daily routine is somehow "monstrous" and "truly offensive."

What is monstrous is the moto-fascism that has run rampant throughout our country. Why are pedestrians and cyclists seen as freaks, and only those piloting thousands of pounds of steel and plastic revered as being "normal?" THAT is a travesty and a crime.

There are those of us are tired of all the resources and money that have gone into building up an environment only suitable for the SOV. We could divert those billions of dollars earmarked for more highways and roads to nowhere into building communities and neighborhoods that are resilient and worth caring about. We could dump some of that money into rebuilding our dying education system, into health care and the future of our country. But no, we as a nation have chosen to put all of our dwindling wealth into building more roads which will attract more congestion and more sprawl.

I'm going to keep riding my bike. Thankfully in my town, and in the greater metro area, the bicycling infrastructure in place is more than adequate. I hope that the NYC moto-fascist attitudes don’t infect my neighbors. As much as I grumble about the MFers here, they exist in far fewer numbers than in other places I've lived and biked. For that I am truly thankful.

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