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“No one warned me…”

March 15, 2012

Via the Slow Bicycle Movement and Copenhagenize. (H/T, n8than.)

No one warned me when I started to use a bike that absolutely everyone who doesn’t ride one has an opinion about them… and about me because I ride one, and about whether I wear a helmet and why I should and why ‘cyclists’ should stay off pavements and also off roads and stop getting in the way and causing constant death and about how stupid we all are, how arrogant, how selfish and how none of us know how to drive or use roads or read signposts and are all calling for stupid infrastructure for roads we don’t pay for… because we are ‘the green lobby’.

Nicely put. I’d say it sums up about every tabloid article and web comment I’ve ever read.

  1. Gene Aronowitz permalink
    March 15, 2012 2:59 pm

    I wish there was an audio version of all those descriptors. I can hear them in my head as I read and hear them said loudly, quickly, so as not to be interrupted, and with an irritated and forced voice. I posted an NPR opinion piece on Facebook last night that asks people to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. Surely, those who disagree with us should be able to describe us without being so stereotypic. Of course, we should also learn the same lessons. Those who disagree with us or have problems with some cyclists’ behavior are not all NIMBY no-nothings.

  2. March 15, 2012 7:42 pm

    > Of course, we should also learn the same lessons. Those who disagree with us or have problems with some cyclists’ behavior are not all NIMBY no-nothings.

    I agree, we should. It’s a constant work of personal improvement
    not to stereotype others. We’re battling against some apparently
    very nasty DNA we all inherited. (And now I’ve just stereotyped
    the human race!)

    Still, when someone precises that they are only talking about the
    behavior of “some” cyclists, my question is the same: Why are you
    telling me about this? I am not “those” cyclists. I have as much
    to do with “them” as with bad drivers. I do have a New York
    driver’s license, even if I haven’t used it in a year.

    (When I was growing up in Georgia it was still common for racists
    to qualify that they only had a problem with “some”
    blacks. Being cautiously prejudiced is no improvement, IMO.)

    Still, I think you’re on to something by mentioning NIMBYs. This
    is about as close as we come in livable streets to fighting fire
    with fire. I’m not sure we should put away the flame throwers
    just yet, but in general I think it’s more effective to call out
    people for supporting specific destructive policies, policies we
    know will result in the violent death, for example, of some of
    their friends and neighbors. That is a misdeed deserving of
    scorn. That we can identify the anti-reform NIMBY as a type is
    satisfying in a way, but it doesn’t accomplish as much.

    Regarding the original post, it was so well expressed I had to
    help spread it around. Getting over the social barriers to
    cycling is almost as hard as getting over the physical barriers
    in the street. I used to be just as frustrated, or more, by
    people judging my choice to cycle as I did about having to
    navigate around autos parked in bicycle lanes. It’s hard.

    Both obstacles become easier to deal with over time, but it takes
    YEARS. Eventually you stop taking the criticism so personally,
    and your friends and co-workers get used to your transportation
    choices. And just because one has made it there personally
    is not enough. We have to keep fighting to make the transition
    better for the next million cyclists.

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