Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Rage Against The Machine: Wheel Wars

In my history as a bicyclist, I've hit two cars. No, they didn't run into me, I decided to take bring the fight to the home front and ran smack dab into them.

Now, before you begin writing folk songs about how Alec fought the machine and lived to tell the tale, let me clarify that both of these cases were classic examples of me being a dumb ass. Both times I was going too fast with worn out breaks and fully immersed in my typical guinea pig-level consciousness. In both instances, I was lucky enough to cause no damage to myself or the other person's automobile, and didn't run into a seven foot former felon.

So bicyclists can be dicks, too. We can be "slow" (fifteen miles an hour seems fast enough to myself, but then again, I'm somewhat dubious on this whole "combustion engine" idea, so you have to compensate for the wingnut factor), we can take up the lane for no apparent reason, and sometimes we can just be plain stupid.

Deal with it.

Bicyclists can cause serious accidents, but they are by far the most vulnerable party on the road that abides by the same rules that motorists follow. We choose to spend our recreational time and commute in a manner that respects our bodies and contributes to a cleaner community. No matter what your opinion is on anthropocentric (human-caused) climate change, the negative impacts of smog and other pollutants that result from automobile use are undeniable. In addition, bicycles make for a safer driving experience. They cause less congestion, travel at a slower pace, and allow for greater awareness due to their open design; all of which helps prevent accidents.

Automobiles have a variety of uses. They are ideal for mid-range travel between cities not covered by adequate intercity mass transit, integral to the distribution of necessary goods to many semi-remote locals, and essential for quick emergency services. But automobilists have to recognize that they share the road with other users. My experiences in the city have shown that most drivers are very respectful to bicyclists and even go out of their way to accommodate them. However, to those of you that constitute the exception, grow up and try a bike. Maybe you'll find your road rage channeled into something more productive, like charging up the next hill or doing some jumps off curbs.

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