Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Bikeyness - A Rantwick Manifesto

Being someone who reads and writes about cycling, (particularly transportational cycling) quite a bit, I have been drawn into and yet felt an aversion for bikey lobby stuff for years. I have come to a few conclusions about myself that aren't very flattering.

I am sick and tired of trying to care about whether any more people ride bikes. I ride a bike because I love the feeling. Many others ride bikes for all kinds of reasons, some just like mine, others not so much. Beyond a generally buoyant "the more the merrier" kind of feeling, I don't care about drawing anyone else to the activity, despite the societal boons associated with it.

People will take up cycling or they won't, depending on fashions, fads, gas prices, whatever. It really doesn't matter much to me; I will be riding regardless and loving almost every moment. What follows is what I think is currently true about me. I would love to hear from you about any or all of it.

RANTWICK ' S Bikey Manifesto

I will be riding whether there are bike lanes or tracks or paths or not.

I will be riding no matter what the current price of gas is.

I like seeing others on bikes. Their choices in terms of clothing or bicycle or style or purpose are irrelevant. I'm just pleased to see them.

I believe that most (but certainly not all) cyclist fatalities and injuries are the result of errors in judgement, lack of understanding or intentional risk-taking on the part of the cyclist.

I enjoy driving and cars and combustion engines very much. I sometimes drive faster than I should.

I think every driver of a motor vehicle (as part of the licensing process) should have to sit on a stationary bicycle and be overtaken at 60 km/h by 3 cars, one at 3 feet away, one at 2 feet away and one just 1 foot away from their handle bars.

I will not hesitate to annoy or even anger motorists with my riding when my safety on the road is at stake.

I will endeavour not to impede other road users to the best of my ability. If I am willing to cause others to lose a little time to keep myself safe, I should also be willing to lose a little of my own sometimes in the interest of keeping everybody else safe and moving well.

I believe that moving away from our current "culture of speed" will benefit us all and that it will happen someday. However, I have little faith that I will see much of a shift in my lifetime.

I don't care what my City is doing (or not doing) about bike infra. Just give me smooth pavement and I will take care of the rest.

I resent motorists who believe their speed/convenience trumps mine. I also resent the many people on bikes who make all other cyclists look bad by doing stupid  things. I have no illusions about these types of people ever going away.

Yer Pal,


TrevorW�� said...

The only thing that I can say is that I agree with all of the above.....You have reflected my own opinion perfectly!

John said...

The Rantwick Manifesto, just please don't move to a "cabin" in Montana. LOL =)

Ἀντισθένης said...

Only one thing: cyclist stupidity doesn't often kill anyone but themselves, whereas motorists' does. As one of those people who still believe in society, 'duty of care' goes to one who wields greater danger. Anyway, I want to live long enough to see humans banned from driving, as computers cannot do it any worse in the aggregate.

Steve A said...


cafiend said...

While I still tend to drive in a sporty fashion from time to time, overall I have come to dislike driving. I will pay more to travel by train if I can, rather than battle the traffic. I'm old enough to remember long stretches of empty highway in places where such things are never seen anymore.

The desire to increase ridership is cyclist-serving as much as it is an attempt to share the high in any of the many ways that cycling makes a person feel good. The more people who ride, even some of the time, the more people understand what it's like on the other side of the windshield. That being said, some people who try cycling out there decide that not only do they hate and fear it, but that no one else should be allowed to do it either.

Paragraph four flirts ever so slightly with victim blaming. If you look up the Vision Zero Initiative you will see discussion of the concept of "acceptable casualties." Those are the death toll traffic planners are willing to accept for a certain level of through-put. Anything that legitimizes that kind of thinking, like taking on the bulk of responsibility for bicyclist injuries and fatalities, provides a level of reasonable doubt on which to exonerate the speeding bonehead who peens a pedaler. Even though you qualified your statement, by stating that the majority of responsibility lies with cyclists it hands the burden to us. The Vision Zero designers have other interesting things to say about how to manage the hazards of human interaction in transportation. It's a design-based approach rather than a behavior-modification approach, which seeks to accommodate the human nature of the operators using various modes to get from place to place. I have not researched in depth yet, but it seems like another perspective that could yield more positive results than tired, failed methods previously exerted.

I also like the comment by Ἀντισθένης (whatever the heck that says :-D) about the duty of care. But of course, human nature being what it is, duty is often neglected.

Paragraph six, buzzing student drivers on a trainer, is similar to my wish, that student drivers would have to put in a full year of transportational cycling before receiving a motor vehicle license. In a pinch, scaring the crap out of them on a trainer would be quicker, take up less space and might be as effective. However, since they would know they were not going to be killed they might just go out and buzz cyclists more knowledgeably.

Cheers! Good post overall. Love a good manifesto.

cafiend said...

I'd made too many typos and had to edit. :-)

Steve A said...

Of course, I am NOT an advocate, so keep that in mind about my enthusiastic endorsement of Rantwick's manifesto.

cafiend said...

I'm not an advocate either. I'm an analyst. And you can't spell that without "anal." But really anyone who rides in public is part of a political subset. That subset may change as your preferred riding style and venue change, but you can't escape it. Each of us is an element of the economy and the political process. So you transmit a message whether you like it or not. If you'd like to see the world become a better place to ride and you act in ways you think will not hinder it (because we're all too cool to think we can actually help) then you are advocating. If you think it's every person for itself and that either divine will or the impersonal gears of fate will determine how long anyone gets to play out there then we shouldn't talk about our philosophies at all. We shouldn't even offer technique suggestions. But we get bored, and maybe we haven't seen anything interesting on a ride recently, so we start to share our ruminations. Before you know it you've advocated. And it's okay.

RANTWICK said...

Thanks all for your comments. I am slightly surprised I haven't gotten in more trouble with some of you; perhaps that si still to come, I fully expected some pushback, especially on paragraph 4, which I got... I suppose I am flirting with victim blaming. I don't know how I can't - a statement that would have more subtlety and detail covering how I feel about different kinds of scenarios could take up a whole post and I still may not get it right.

Cafiend, your point about being an advocate, transmitting a message whether you like it or not, is well taken and rings true. Damn.

anniebikes said...

You really know how to stick your neck out there...BRAVO! I admit to feeling overwhelmed with opportunities for bike advocacy in our region. I could go to events three times a week! So, I go to none. Or, it feels like none - I tried to get more women on wheels this year - in comparison.

It feels weird to feel this way, especially after wanting more cyclists on our roads but I've been getting bad vibes lately in our community. Burlington is on the verge of mass cyclists vs motorists political collision course, fueled by a recent rash of pedestrian/cyclist/motorist accidents, that I fear an eventual showdown of sorts. (Okay, maybe that my non-confrontational personality coming through...)

So thus, my waiting on the sideline while I continue riding my bike.

cafiend said...

Increased bicycle use brings challenges as well as improvements. I had at least one nasty crash on the campus where I went to college in the mid 1970s. Cars were banned from most of the inner campus most of the time, so everybody biked. But it could be somewhat of a free for all. Merging user groups out in "the real world" discloses many points of friction. If all participants don't agree that the ultimate goal is the best system for all participants, the process becomes a fight to see who gets eliminated. Instead we have to keep on illuminating the concept that we want all to be accommodated.

e-bikes said...

I completely agree with you. I really value your opinion on cycling.

RANTWICK said...

I really like that e-bikes person. Or robot. Or whatever. Spammy generic comment or not, pure unthinking affirmation/validation suits me fine just now. Thanks, e-bikes!

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