Everyone: Get Off My Side

I bike.

I’m waiting with bated breath for the “out the door” temperature to be 33 or above, soon, so I can start biking to work again.  I’ve missed it terribly (and didn’t get to do nearly enough last season).    It just plain makes me feel good.

Of course, as I pointed out a few years back when I was interviewed in the Utne Reader, it’s really not a political thing for me.  It’s just one of few forms of regular exercise that don’t bore me stiff.

Unfortunately, both left and right have opted to politicize biking.   Smart conservatives attack the political cronyism, payoffs, and mindless noodling with urban geography that Big Bike is trying to wreak on cities like the Twins.  Not-so-bright conservatives attack people who ride bikes because they ride bikes.

But for every conservative chowderhead cyclophobe, there’s a small cloud of two-wheeled human smugginess that proves the theory.

John Gilmore noted the uproar of a biker, Marcus Nalls of Minneaopolis.  Or as the “biking community” knew him, a guy on a bike assassinated by a car:

WCCO-TV had a fascinating online report about the “memorial” which focused on Nalls’ means of transport much more than the actual human being. “More than 200 riders made their way from Loring Park to the sidewalk along Franklin [where Nalls died]. There, in a solemn procession, they walked their bikes past the “ghost bike,” which is a memorial bicycle that’s painted white.”

All cults need icons and what better, more effective icon than one associated with death? A ghost bike? Was this some sort of sick joke? No indeed, as I found out to my amazement. Such sorts of “remembrances” take place throughout the country when a biker dies. There’s even a disconcerting website: http://ghostbikes.org/

Naturally, what is really going on is the narcissism of the biking community being put on prominent display for the public to see but mostly for themselves. One white bike after another: no individual, just the hope that bikers still living won’t die in a similar fashion. White bikes are the crucifixes for the secular, “spiritual but not religious” types in our midst. The dislocation of religion into environmentalism and Portlandia lifestyles is relentless.

Gilmore mentions Portlandia.

That’s one of the funniest things about that series; knowing that grimly serious people live out the parody every day.

8 thoughts on “Everyone: Get Off My Side

  1. Where intelligent people see 1984 as a cautionary tale and Portlandia as an entertaining parody, weak minded (ptr) progressives see respectively an instruction manual and a DIY Youtube video.

  2. I think most of you are familiar with the web site “what white people like”. This is sooooo white.

  3. OK full disclosure; I own and ride a Trek bike. I enjoy it….when it’s at least 55 degrees and not raining.

    However, when I read that story I did question the wisdom of riding a bicycle down a snow choked, busy road at night. The newspaper was quick to point out he was wearing flashing lights which is great, but completely pointless when sharing what’s left of the wintertime road with cars careening off the snowpiles on either side.

  4. Although I ride during non snow months, too, I resent the econazis forcing cities to restrict auto traffic to accommodate them. Bloomington has choked two major roads by stealing one two lanes of traffic to create bike lanes to cater to one business. Quality Bicycle Products encourages their employees to ride their bikes to work. Many of them are not responsible bikers, either. These are the ones that wear no illumination/ non-reflective and all black clothing, blowing through stop signs, red signal lights and NOT using the bike lanes.

  5. Regarding Nalls, the guy who killed him was going to kill someone that night. Full size van weighing four tons easy, BAC of .27% (nearly a level that will kill), had already crashed into several trash dumpsters. All he needed was to run into anything smaller than his van to kill someone.

    That said, as an avid rider myself, narrow city streets covered with snow at night…..no way. Can’t protect yourself enough in that case.

  6. I think much of the problem that some have with bicyclists stems from the lack of serious enforcement of the laws that regulate bicycling on the roadway. Most jurisdictions only view biking in a positive political light, and that meaningful, proactive enforcement isn’t worth the time or political fall-out. I also suspect that many on both sides of the issue, cops, bikers, car drivers, etc., don’t even know how traffic laws relate to bikes on the street. Even a serious informational promotion of bike laws, prior to actual hard-copy enforcement, would go a long way towards lessening deaths, injuries, and aggressive resentment. I don’t think that former MPLS mayor Ryback was helping anyone but himself with his silly support of Critical Mass traffic disruptions.

    I found it interesting that http://ghostbikes.org/ was quite adamant about the rights of bicyclists on the roadway, but did not address their responsibilities. Such responsibilities would include observance of the laws that apply to them, respectful interaction with cars and pedestrians, and general safety habits.

    As a suburbanite, I have little opportunity to use my bike for meaningful transportation. But like Mr. Berg, it is one of the few forms of exercise I can tolerate. I just wish someone would come up with a bicycle helmet that did not make the wearer look like a dork.

  7. The question I have is, driver or bicyclist, do we want “serious” enforcement of traffic laws? Do we want a cop on every corner watching for rolling stops–endemic among both groups? Looking for failure to signal? An officer every mile of the highway watching for speeding?

    Seems to me we’ve lost a great chance for “mutual respect and clear thinking” here. The killer here broke laws against reckless driving, driving under the influence, failure to stop after a collision…..yeah, let’s get more LAWS to deal with this. That’s the ticket.

  8. The traffic laws and regulations should equally affect all who use the roadway.

    One source of frustration is the sense that many who insist that they are entitled to the same rights as a motor vehicle seem to forget that such equality includes their responsibility to obey applicable statutes and ordinances.

    “More laws” are not “the ticket” and were not suggested, by me anyway. There are plenty, maybe too many laws, already on the books. My post deals with those that are there already. “The ticket,” (no pun intended) to me would be the expectation of equal compliance to them by all who share the road. At least to me, the proper approach would include a public educational piece prior to any strict enforcement actions which may include punitive measures.

    The perception that some (not all, of course) bicyclists seem to consider themselves vehicles when it suits them and pedestrians when it doesn’t is not limited to cranky people like me. Mutual respect will only come about when everyone shares the responsibility of safe and courteous road use.

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