I woke to a disturbing message the other day that my friend Scott was hit by a car while cycling (if you read my blog regularly, you’ll know him as Type-B Scott from the TNGA write up). He’s okay because he’s always too happy to be hurt but I hear his bike isn’t.
There was also a recent video that went viral showing a car bullying two road cyclist by constantly honking at them. Fortunately the video led to the authorities tracking down the bully and dealing with that issue.
Just a little over a year ago a lady plowed over a seasoned cyclist here in Birmingham admitting to being aggressive while doing it.
What the hell is going on? Why all this hatred for two wheels and some spokes? I’d love nothing more than to commute to work but I’m terrified I’m going to have some aggressive bully on my tail just aiming to take me out.
Why the sudden jump in cyclist in the news, it’s not hard to see that times are a-changing, if your wallet screaming by the gas you just paid for didn’t get your attention, then surely you’ve seen the incessant badgering to “get healthy” and “go green” from the media and political mouth pieces. The bike is becoming cool again but almost by necessity.
The rise of cycling is a lot like most things that jumps up into popularity, it starts out with a small group of people passionate about something fringe, then it’s adopted by the vanity crowd who make it look cool, the media takes notice and starts to use it in their ads as they know it’s a hot ticket and then it goes mainstream where suburbanites finally join into the fray.
From fringe sports like Cylcocross to hipsters on Fixies, bike ads at banks and families riding in the burbs – it’s the great circle of cycling life.
Wow, that’s awfully cynical of me to say, but it’s true. I’ve seen it happen with almost ever fad. Remember in the 80′s when Powell-Perlta’s skateboarding team rose to popularity? There was this kid, oh what was his name, I forget…oh wait, yeah Tony Hawk. I’m sure he faded out and no one ever heard of him after the whole skateboarding craze died out and everyone was going Xtreme by the 90′s…right?
Hold tight for just a bit longer and see if Apple doesn’t release the iBike and every parent, child and hipster will be owning one – hell, I might too! You think current cyclists on the road are bad now? Wait until that happens…what’s worse then Microsoft will come out with a bike too…
…and everyone will laugh.
Going Green by Cycling
If you just bought your bike to be smug and say “I’m helping the environment by going green and cycling.” Well I’ve got some more cynicism for you, tires need replacing often as well as bike maintenance to keep that carbon footprint ride running smooth. That means loading your bike up in your car and using gas to take it to the local bike shop, purchasing rubber tubes which is made at a factory which causes pollution. If you think that’s going green, my ass is a typewriter.
Also there’s the purchasing of lube, parts and if you get into competitve biking you’ll spend more on internal fuel (like sports drinks and nutrition) than you could ever imagine putting in vehicle in the form of gas.
Stoked for Strokes
So given that cars are aiming to run you over, you’re not really going green and saving the environment and that your bike is a rather significant financial investment, why do it at all? I’ll give you a little secret…
Do it because it’s awesome and it brings pleasure.
I love nothing more than to wake up early at be pedaling as the sun warms your body and everything is still, quiet and just waking up.
I love competing against friends in races pushing my body as hard as I can seeing if I can outrun the other guy and upping my fitness level. I love hopping on my road bike with my wife and strolling through the city at dusk stopping at a restaurant and having dinner out on the patio. I also enjoy meeting her out for a ride through the trails barrelling down hills and enjoying a cold beer afterwards with her while eating peanuts.
To me, cycling is awesome. I don’t do it to make a statement, I don’t do it to go green and I certainly don’t do it for the person who got in their car and decided it was an “us vs them” mentality and is going to give me a lesson by aggressively bullying me.
No really, let’s all share the road
Whether driving or cycling, we’re all humans. A motorist can ride a bike and a cyclist drives a car. I’ve done some incorrect things when riding in the road (like running a red light or stop sign) and I’ve also been a bad driver as well. So I’m not here to look down my nose at you, I’m here to tell you to remember that if you’re in a car and you get frustrated by someone on a bike going slow, remember that guy (or gal) has a family, kids and maybe a very important job.
If you’re on a bike and someone did a jerk thing like buzzing too close to you, maybe that person doesn’t know to give you three feet – instead of getting angry and bitching about it, try spreading some knowledge instead.
I'm an graphic designer who loves biking no matter if it's road, cross or mountain biking. I love it all. I live in Birmingham, Alabama and design t-shirts, work for companies like the Wall Street Journal and teach as an associate professor at two of the local Universities.