Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wheeler Dealers

The Seattle Times ran what I think is a pretty good article about some of the cycling issues here in their Pacific Northwest Magazine this past weekend. The full text of the article and pictures can be seen here:

There has been some lively discussion (both pro & con) about Critical Mass, helmets, bike lanes, bike safety, etc. You can see some of the discussion over on the Cascade Message Boards here:

What I like about the article is that it shows that different people have different views of the situation, different perceptions, different ways of trying to further their cause. There are some folks who think Critical Mass does more harm than good, some folks who think it's making a real positive difference, some folks who view it as a party. Some folks really think bike lanes help matters, some folks strongly think otherwise. The article stresses that there are diverse views on these issues.

I wear a helmet but I don't favor mandatory helmet laws. I stop at stop signs and red lights. I use a whole lot of lights and blinkers and bright clothes. I try not to give people another example of "you bikers who run red lights and break laws" but I understand that some other cyclists feel that civil disobedience is the way to institute change. I defend both their right to protest and the rule of law.

I don't believe the premise that "if you're not with us, you're with the enemy." Some folks see things as being very black and white and others see everything as shades of gray. I guess I'm not consistent or maybe the world isn't that consistent. I look around and see some things are black, some are white, some are gray and some are all kinds of other colors.

I like fluorescent yellow and reflective tape. And blinky LEDs. We can spend lots of time yelling at each other about how you're doing it wrong and I'm doing it right (or vice-versa) . Or we can try to do our best. Sometimes doing our best involves yelling at the other guy and telling him he's doing it all wrong. Sometimes doing our best means just doing our thing.

I don't have any neat answers. Sometimes I'm not even sure I'm asking the right questions. But I like to ride my bike and I try to do what I can to help other people ride their bikes.

Keep 'em rolling. Ride safe out there.

-- Kent


cyclofiend said...

That's an interesting article and strikes a lot of common chords - down here in NorCal (SF Bay Area), there's all sorts of well-established, if not entirely well-formed opinions about CM and it's theoretical offshoots.

It does seem as though a lot of cycling advocates and fellow-travelers tend to make a thin aspect of a tangential bit into their main cause, and we often tend to lose sight of the greater picture. It's refreshing to see a calm and logical voice (as yours always seems to be...) reminding folks to be consistent and predictable. Thanks again!
-- Jim

Anonymous said...

Two tumbs up Kent!


Tammy said...

I hate that "YOU bike riding are always....blah, blah, blah,...insert complaint here". If I have the energy, my response is something along the lines of... "there are bad drivers, and there are bad cyclists... don't lump us all together." I usually see a light go on in their brains after that.

You, on the other hand, are so good. Can I be your Jedi?