Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Watchdogging follow up

Thanks to Fritz for the following comment on my previous post:

“I'm a generally lawful and courteous cyclist, but when was the last time motorists who are just part of traffic was labeled "arrogant"?

And just because other cyclists break the law and are hoodlums, why are you and I the ones who are somehow held accountable? We don't expect motorists to apologize for the idiots among their midst.”

I agree with all you say, but who said life was fair, and that everyone in the world plays fair. Cyclists as a group are a minority in the mindset of an automobile society, and minorities always tend to get the shitty end of the stick.

Any minority group, not just cyclists, are always labeled by the worst behavior of those within that group. In place of cyclist say “Illegal immigrant” and are they not all painted as bad? However, the truth is the majority are good, decent people. It is the way that society justifies the prejudice; this is how bigotry works.

Bigots don’t like minority groups who are different than they are, and they wish they would just go away. By labeling the whole group as bad, they gather like minded people to their cause, in the hope that this minority can somehow be stopped, driven out, or eliminated.

As cyclists we can whine and complain to each other about the unfairness of society’s attitude, but will that change anything or make anyone on the other side, listen to our point of view?

All we can do is ride our bikes, and obey the laws of the road, and try to behave in a civilized manner. We have no control over the way others act twards us, but we do have control over the way we re-act.

We can try to convince some amongst us who have a hostile and arrogant attitude, that this type of behavior may not be in their own and other cyclist’s interest.

If people like myself and other bike bloggers, keep pushing the message in a positive way, maybe in time it will find it’s way into the mainstream media.


James Bigler said...

Thanks for the writing this. It is an excellent post. I believe everything you said is true, but I admit I have on occasion had a hard timing keeping a positive attitude in the heat of the moment. I guess all I can do is keep trying.

Anonymous said...

Interesting quote by Fritz and two interesting articles by you, Dave. Like you, I almost always wave thanks when a driver waves me through a stop sign, even though I've stopped because they have the right of way or simply when a driver sits at an intersection because they see me coming and do not want to fringe on my access to the intersection. I strongly believe that there is no better way to help change the culture of the automobile driver than to simply say thanks. That doesn't mean they are always right or that I don't lose my cool when I feel as though my health has just been jeopardized by an idiotical move on a drivers part. But it boils down to someone having to "cave in" and becoming the first to offer the so called olive branch. It's not an easy situation to change and it will not happen overnight. Baby steps.

Anonymous said...

Actually Dave, I don't think there is a place for Illegal Immigrants on the road...

More seriously I do agree with you in terms of sentiment. We can all benefit from behaving sensibly, responsibly and calmly when faced with undue provocation.

When we acknowledge the correct behaviour in others it reinforces that behaviour. We do the same with children. Positive is always better than negative and will always yield the greater result.

When we are abused by the behaviour of others we should do our best to contol our (possibly justifiable) anger. We we see correct behviour we should equally acknowlege it. We should also make our disapproval known to those within our midst who fail to follow this approach as their actions reflect on us all.

steve garro said...

hey, dave, steve garro here. came across your stuff. i hope you continue to improve from your accident! i'm a framebuilder too, and on 10/5/05 i was totally crushed by a truck....spinal fusions, crushed femur, internal injuries, 6 surgeries, coma, the whole shebang. i still build frames, but in a wheel chair. i walk with crutches, and ride my off-road handcycle and kayak/canoe and fish. i'm glad you are ok! it can be much worse...but i'm ok!....check out my blog - steve.

Anonymous said...

"All we can do is ride our bikes, and obey the laws of the road, and try to behave in a civilized manner."

Ah, not true! American citizens, anyway, can organize to change the laws. Cyclists, unfortunately, don't have the numbers of motorists, nor do we represent the same scale of economic interest (Ford and GM pay a lot more taxes than Cannondale and Trek), but with all the current excitement about global warming, we do represent a necessary solution for transportation in the urban environment. With the American election looming on the horizon, the time is right for cyclists to organize and demand that our place on the road be respected and protected.

Rick J said...

Thanks for two really good articles. Your perspective would serve well as one of the lessons taught in a cycle commuting class. That is if there were one. I mentioned your article in my blog yesterday, encouraging folks of all mediums of commuting to read it. My audience is mostly that of family and friends, and not much to get excited about. But your writing about this subject for us to "buck up and deal with it" so to speak has been rolling around in my mind. I just wanted to touch base with you to express appreciation. I came across your site about 4 months ago, and damn glad I finally did.

Anonymous said...

Dave writes:

"All we can do is ride our bikes, and obey the laws of the road, and try to behave in a civilized manner."

In his essay titled "The Social and Emotional Aspects of Transportation Cycling", Bruce Mol has a name for this type of riding - "veloquent". I like the term. He discusses in the essay what he means by it and even includes charts and graphs. It may be too much analysis for some but I found it interesting.

Cheers, Gene in Tacoma

Gary Burkholder said...

There was a 5 article series in the LA Times from 1/7 to 1/11. Cycling issues are finally hitting the mainstream media.

LA Times 'Cycling Brawl'

Cafn8 said...

While I've encountered my share of meatheads and roadhogs, I think it's worth pointing out that we, the minority, can also be guilty of stereotyping the majority. I've met many more motorists who, even when they have the right of way, yield to me when I'm on my bicycle. I rarely receive this kind of courtesy when I'm driving my car.