Thursday, December 21, 2006

Infuriating, but instructive

This weekend, the otherwise sainted mother-in-law of NS&S shared with me her deep frustration with bikes on the road, triggered by one not-so-recent incident: four guys riding side-by-side on one of the country roads near her home and holding her up. (To be fair, I think this was an example of incidents that happen to her periodically, but far from frequently.)

As a cyclist, I deal with much more infuriating -- and potentially dangerous -- driver behavior almost every time I get on my bike. My impulse was to tell her to get a grip. She's wrong to be so frustrated. The relatively minor negative impact cyclists have on her life pales compared to the impact that motorists have on cyclists'.

Objectively, we cyclists are far more put upon than putting upon. But, practically speaking, it's irrelevant.

It's a tough pill to swallow, but if we want to live in a world that is more bike friendly, we really have to be model citizens. Being model citizens is not enough. We have to be active in our communities to create a more bike-friendly infrastructure and culture. But, if we want allies (or at least neutrals) in our activism, we also have to be nice to motorists. The world is generally hostile to us. Nice people like my mother-in-law are looking for reasons to dismiss our concerns.

It isn't fair. It isn't right. It just is.

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