Tuesday, March 15

Tuesday Propaganda: Perceptions

I may have graffitied this here previously, but I wanted to elaborate a bit, and perhaps articulate a bit more clearly what I believe about the topic.

On one of my commute options there is a stretch of road that is a four lane divided "parkway" with low traffic and a 30 mph speed limit. I've been using the road for two and a half years to get into Golden from the east. I had only ridden it a few times in "heavier" traffic before I started taking the right lane for the duration to avoid getting smashed by cubiclites in a hurry to park their Audis and Beamers.

When I say low traffic I mean groups of three or four cars spaced two to five minutes apart. The section of road is less than a mile long, so there are days (though rare) when I will only encounter one or two clusters of cars. Heavy traffic would be groups of six or so cars spaced two to three minutes apart. We're not talking gridlock.

Those are the facts. I guess I could sit and do a traffic count one day and verify my numbers, but I'm pretty confident with my extensive experience riding this particular stretch of road that I'm spot on. I find it terribly frustrating that I have to take the lane. There really is no reason I should have to, but it is a stark reality. The few times I've ridden far right I've had the lead car in a pack pass completely in the left lane only to have the next car gun between me and the lead car in the right lane crowding me while accelerating, I've been buzzed by buses, shuttle buses, garbage trucks, said Audis and Beamers, and I was honked at and yelled at almost continuously.

So I experimented one day with taking the entire lane. I ride dead center or slightly left of the hump. I had only discovered the concept of taking the lane and this particular location was my testing ground. The results were positive. I've never ridden far right on this road since. I still get buzzed, I still get honked and yelled at, but the instances are far fewer than before. The majority of drivers pass completely in the left lane and traffic is really not inhibited by my presence. Like I said, the traffic volume is so low my impact is truly minimal.

The perception of my impact to moto-fascists must be gargantuan. With the realities of the low traffic volume, wide road and low speed limit I can't imagine why my presence would invoke such ire. I mean, this is the area where I had a guy pull over in a parking lot and come wheezing out onto the road to confront me as I rode past.

Its this unrealistic perception that makes me think a major social issue (and increasingly socio-economic) is a deeply held sense of entitlement. Its this unhealthy sense of entitlement that pervades our culture that is going to ignite major social calamity when the fun money really runs out. Suburbanites are going to be terribly unhappy when they can no longer watch Two and a Half Men, haul their four wheelers into the wilderness for some drunken fun and when the lights go off. They will loudly proclaim blame on everyone but themselves. The president will be at fault, and Congress, the school board, their obnoxious neighbor down the street, academics, those bastards in Planning & Zoning and that cashier that took their money when they had to pay $10.00 a gallon for gas to fill up their extended cab F250. Unfortunately it will be the poor cashier (and Planners) who get dragged into the street and beaten senseless or maybe worse. Most SuburBubbas won’t have access to the president or their congresspersons to vent their frustrations.

I don't know about the gas station cashiers, but us Planners are going to fight back. Well, at least I will. I'm not going to pretend I haven’t been a part of the problem. But I will defend myself with some justified self-righteousness and say now that I am beginning to understand the true gravity of our situation on Planet Earth I am trying to make a difference by conserving energy and resources. I'm doing my part to keep the TV on and the gas flowing into the tanks of the oblivious hoards who continue burning it with no thought for the future. But I can’t keep quiet about it. I can’t pretend the world isn’t spiraling out of control just to avoid looking like a crazy person or a conspiracy theorist.

Regardless of how much time we have before calamity is imminent, we are heading toward a shortage of all things modern and convenient. Whether I have to face it as the head of my household, or whether my children or their children bear the brunt of the collapse, I cannot ignore it and leave the mess for my heirs to clean up.

Who's with me?

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