Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Go Bask in the Hatred

One reason I took up backpacking instead of going further with bike touring in the 1980s was the constant, corrosive hostility I encountered while pedaling. I could endure it while commuting, because I could defend my actions by pointing out that I removed one car from traffic, relinquished gallons of fossil fuel to those who couldn't or wouldn't get off the sauce, and left one more parking place for those who needed a place to dock their barge.

In recent weeks, an editorial in England and another in California have broadly condemned all cyclists except for the obedient ones who stick to parks and paths, perhaps driving there with a wobbling rack overloaded with the family's fleet of lead-pipe cruisers and kids' bikes.

It's no surprise such ignorant bigotry exists. The sad and scary part is that someone thinks it deserves to be published. As commenters on both sites have pointed out, substitute any racial, ethnic or religious group for bicyclists and there would be howls of outrage against the editorial writers. So congrats, fellow cyclists: we are the last group it's entirely okay to hate.

Now we must marshal our arguments. Cycling may be genetic, rather than a lifestyle choice as our detractors claim. We can't HELP cycling. We hopped on a two-wheeler back in our youth and it grappled into a portion of our brains. We can't rip those hooks out. Lucky you if you never really mastered the balance and grace, and so moved happily into the four-wheeled motor vehicle which is the symbol of all that is good and normal.

I suppose we fan the flames of righteous indignation because so few of us confess, recant, relent, repent and relinquish the sinful cycle. We persist in our offense rather than joining the greater mass of humanity in the majority's clearly superior behavior. We obstruct our betters in the use of their streets and highways, aided by legislators who clearly have their own personal deviations in mind when they facilitate ours. Among the many quirks and perversions pursued by some of our lawmakers, some of them actually RIDE BICYCLES THEMSELVES.

This sickness must be expunged. It will be expunged. By fire and sword, by fender and bumper, one or two or six crushed cyclists at a time, it will be expunged.

I can't be saved. Notice that I took up backpacking instead of ATV-ing, cross-country skiing instead of snowmobiling, kayaking instead of jet-skiing. I am a deviant. It runs too deep.

1 comment:

RCMC467 said...

Actually, it is even more OK to hate and castigate smokers. So...I get it on both fronts, since I do both; commute by bike and smoke. (And no, I have never smoked while riding!)

However, since I would like to begin touring this fall, I am going to quit smoking soon, to save cash as well as my lungs, so I am glad to know there will still be people out there who will hate me for no good reason.