Quite often I get these emails and texts from people alerting me of an article I should read about cycling. Often it’s from a credited publication like the NY Times so naturally it peaks my interest. Turns out, 9-10 times the op-ed or discussion is about some out-of-touch person who really doesn’t like biking and probably shouldn’t even be writing an article that does nothing for the activity but rather makes cycling hating drivers feel justified for their road rage or cycling enthusiasts defend themselves for their choice of transportation. As one of the laters I often feel obligated to chime in since the article itself is getting attention and it’s my job to help defend cycling. Luckily most of the time the arguments are weak, so my job is made easy. It’s also quite baffling how these people are given the word space, especially with the current state of publishing in the digital age.
I’m actually quite hungry for honest debate about whether cycling is a legitimate form of transportation but instead I get this:
The latest comes from some guy named Daniel Duane from San Francisco who was fortunate to have his opinions published in the New York Times on Sunday.
Is It Ok To Kill Cyclists?
Right away, Duane illustrates my point about being a hater with a description of himself: “SAN FRANCISCO — EVERYBODY who knows me knows that I love cycling and that I’m also completely freaked out by it.”
Ah, that’s funny cause I know a lot of writers on the subject of cycling and somehow, I’ve never heard of you…must be a West Coast thing. Next he says:
Duane: “I got into the sport for middle-aged reasons: fat; creaky knees; the delusional vanity of tight shorts. Registering for a triathlon, I took my first ride in decades.”
I’m not sure a triathlon is the best place to start cycling…seems a bit extreme, how about just going to get a delicious burrito in the Mission or a leisurely cruise across the Golden Gate bridge.
Duane: “Wind in my hair, smile on my face, I decided instantly that I would bike everywhere like all those beautiful hipster kids on fixies. Within minutes, however, I watched an S.U.V. hit another cyclist, and then I got my own front wheel stuck in a streetcar track, sending me to the pavement.”
Yeah it’s called learning how to operate a vehicle, just like when you stalled in traffic on one of those hills trying to learn how to drive a stick shift. Oh the embarrassment.
The rest of this op-Ed goes on to point out how easy it is for cyclists to get killed by automobiles with little or no criminality attributed to the driver. Now being killed by a car for learning how to love cycling is a very hard lesson to swallow.
I don’t want to belabor over the East Coast vs West Coast thing, but really. One of my Co-Author of the book we did as a travel guide for biking in NYC, (bikenycthebook) Marci Blackman would often talk about biking in San Francisco where she lived for a long time. She would say she felt way more safe in NYC and that in SF the drivers have much more space to speed and how cyclists are treated much more as just being in the way. After all, just cause it’s up North and the birthplace of free lovin hippies, it’s still car culture America, California.