Saturday, August 6, 2011

Why the hating on cyclists?

It seems everyone hates cyclists these days.  Pedestrians don't like them and certainly motorists don't care for them.  Now pedestrians are an urban and especially an NYC phenomenon--they rule the streets of the City of New York, which is part of what makes it such a great town.  Meanwhile, there is the problem of relations between cyclists and other users of the road. There are legitimate complaints, which I write about elsewhere in this blog, but the real problems are the illegitimate complaints.  These really amount to one, maybe two reasons.  First, we are perceived to be on the way, including when we are in bike lanes because now we are taking up even more space.  Thus, we are an impediment, which is both a legitimate and illegitimate complaint.  The latter because even the least inconvenience would still result in irritation.  Second, cyclists are viewed as subversive to our consumer economy and culture.  The notion that this might catch on is terrifying!  Folks might have to accept a decrease in their standard of living.  This is the real problem. 

It should be kept in mind that after one's home, cars are the other big sign of wealth that people get very touchy about.  I don't blame them.  I just think that their fears are a little disproportionate.  As I've written elsewhere, the role of the automobile is secure in our society--anyone who thinks otherwise is deceiving themselves.  The question is not whether the car stays or goes, but whether we make room for other forms of transport.  This goes back to impediment, which no one cares for.  Traffic is inescapable.  The surprise is that folks insist on enduring it.  I think cycling offers one solution and should be encouraged not resented.  In fact, I think drivers should insist on accommodations to limit their exposure to traffic.  That would be a true increase in the standard of living.  Wider roads, more taxes--I don't think so. 


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