Thursday, March 22, 2007
S-s-something long from the comments
Where do I start? First off, I have been riding fixed gears since 1975, so I know how the gear works. For city riding I recommend you choose a lowish gear so you can sprint away from stops and maintain a track stand without undue effort. If you can't stop and start easily, maybe you should choose a bike you have truly mastered. See post regarding ethics here.
Second, remember that drivers are in sensory deprivation tanks, while the cyclist has almost infinitely better field of view and maneuverability. You have a responsibility to drive very defensively, the same way a smaller vessel, even a sailing vessel, has some duty to avoid larger vessels, less maneuverable than themselves, when said larger vessels have to operate in a limited fairway.
Third, I understand the warrior mentality. Anyone who wants to launch into the swift waters of traffic riding needs a certain amount of testosterone. Look it up, women have it too, and it does the same thing for them, making any human more intrepid. We need to look beyond the warfare to create a climate in which less intrepid riders can function as well.
Lastly, I do avidly discourage riders from getting into this if their behavior will both get them killed and antagonize an already unsupportive motoring public. Ask most motorists in complete privacy if they'd like to see bicyclists disappear from the roads and a depressingly large majority would say yes. Turning culture around takes a many-pronged effort. And we can't please everyone, especially someone implacably hostile to our kind. But think, think, think how you look. We must, regrettably, consider public relations as well as our own opinions of what is practical and should be permissible.
Be strong, be brave, keep riding and keep thinking.