Saturday, June 21, 2008

Unexpected and Elegant Cycling Advocacy Piece

If you've ever spent any time reading Bike Snob NYC, you'll probably be shocked about to know that the author (he? she?) has a good post up that covers very well the idea of getting out of the closet and onto the bike. If you aren't familiar with Bike Snob NYC, then lets just say that generally, posts snark, insults and mocks wide portions of the bicycle culture (yes, there are multiple bicycle cultures, who knew such a niche past time could be so fragmented: to wit: "The fixter looks stupid to the roadie; the roadie looks stupid to the mountain biker; the mountain biker looks stupid to the recumbent rider; and the recumbent rider looks stupid to everyone."

The post "Get Over It: Surmounting the Obstacles to Cycling" keeps the worst of its mockery in the first three words of the title and quickly moves on to serious points. Get out there and ride, get over fear of riding by doing it and familiarizing yourself with the risks. Start with a bike path or side street, move up to crossing a busy road as a vehicle and then ride with heavy traffic. Do what is comfortable for you.

A lesson I'm still trying to learn in the fear category or other vehicles is "ignore the beeping." I'm still prone to shouting back when a driver ticks me off by shouting/honking at me, and even worse, when they've done something which has made me feel unsafe (like passing with about an inch between me and their mirror.
A driver honks to express one of three things: 1) I want you to get out of my way; 2) I want you to go faster; 3) I just don’t like you. The correct response to all of these is, “I don’t give a fuck.” Drivers don’t honk when they’re about to kill you because when they kill you it’s because they didn’t see you.
And to wrap up, an issue I've wrestled with in thinking about being an ambassador for cycling every time I ride, clothing. "If I’m hard on the fashionistas and the gear whores, it’s because I think one of the greatest obstacles to new cyclists is the uniform and equipment it seems necessary to own in order to join in the fun." Amen. Ride in what you have. I own bike clothes, and I only ride them if I'm going out for a really long recreational ride and want the comfort that it provides. Toodling around the city, running errands and such do not require special gear, other than a bike and a means of carrying stuff sometimes.

There's lots more good stuff, but I'm coming close to just copying the whole thing. Go read it.