Tuesday, July 05, 2016

When you can't please everyone...

This stunning human being in Columbus, Ohio, summed up what I would guess is the majority attitude among motorists, with his entry in a whimsical parade there to celebrate Independence Day. The sign on his door says, "I'll share the road when you follow the rules."

I considered a post titled "Don't ride like an asshole," but I realized after a nanosecond's thought that riders who draw attention by flamboyantly anarchistic behavior are only the excuse that motocentric road users throw up to justify their hostility. Many bad habits that ignorant or stubborn riders use, like riding against traffic, are embraced by the motocentric, because they reinforce the stereotype of the wheeled pedestrian. Bike riders belong somewhere, anywhere, other than in the lane, taking up valuable space and demanding a traffic flow that respects their humanity. Humanity ends at the door handle, pal. Once the motorist is sealed in the capsule, the only things that count are horsepower and cunning.

People who are generically hostile to bike riders will take exception to nearly anything a rider does. Add this to the hostility between biking subcultures themselves and nothing ever gets fixed. And I don't imagine it ever will. No single solution or workable set of solutions will please everyone. The yammering will continue, with occasional blood drawn, mostly from riders who get caught in the crossfire.

The cellist and I were ordered off the road this morning, by a motocentrist in a shit brown and pond scum green step-side pickup truck coming the opposite way. He was defending the rights of the poor motorists I had trapped behind me while I waited for the oncoming truck to clear the lane. To their credit, the motorists behind me took it all calmly, and passed safely and methodically once the oncoming driver had made his statement and gone on. It reminded me that angry people with simplistic points of view can throw a little or a lot of tension into what should be simply a normal piece of traffic flow. The offended truck driver would say the cellist and I were taking excessive liberties because we did not wobble along the right rim of the pavement, allowing any driver to pass at any time. Good luck explaining anything to someone like that.

I do believe there is a right way to ride on the public streets. I just know better than to put it forward as the one true path. It IS the one true path, but my advocacy will not hasten its discovery. Its own truth will guide riders to it, if they ride for enough years. It's a wide path, with probably half a dozen One True Alternate Routes and a couple of dozen special exceptions, but it's true. Perhaps the growing population of people with riding experience will infiltrate the motoring population to the point where cooperative behavior becomes a reflex.

Many motorists already do remarkably well. But then, the fact that many places don't get shot up by a miserable attention whore with an assault rifle is little comfort when you are in the place where it happens. Same deal when you're riding along and you meet the wrong sorehead driver. There's no defense, really. You just have to keep living in a way that sets a good example, and hope it becomes the universal choice.

There is no battle. There is no war. There is only patient teaching, endurance, and luck.

No comments: