Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What NOT to do With a Car Door and Stupid Bicycle Tricks

This post is a little scattered, just like my life right about now. But I'm going to get to the business end out of the way and leave the funny till later. In the following video, I don't think a bike helmet would have helped, but a brain for the car passenger would have.

Warning: Sensitive subject mater

The above scene is a tragedy, and an awful example of what can happen when people in cars don't take people on Bicycles seriously. I saw this yesterday in the local bike shop and everyone watching couldn't believe what they saw. The automatic response was anger at the idiot that was trying to door the bicyclist. Obviously the kid doing the dooring realized he fucked up big time, but remorse for an action is not good enough.

Many motorists still feel that cycling is a joke, and that somehow they have the right to ostracize and harass bikers simply because we are not in a vehicle of equal size and killing power. At a recent group ride in San Jose that my cousin took part in, along with 1500 other bikers, participants were repeatedly spit on and had things thrown at them by motorists. That is the type of behavior that prompts cyclists to be agressive and militiristic in their approach to asserting their rights to the road; if motorists won't respect us and share the road, we'll take our share of the road.

The San Jose Bike Party:

Now for something lighter on the stomach: Spot the Lame video

Two videos I came across the other day, both involving fixed gear tricks, but very different styles. Both are kind of lame, but only one actually displays some crazy skills with a fixed gear.

The first video is pretty amazing to watch, but the music and the setting makes me feel like I'm watching Olympic gymnastics, which I can't stand. The second video seems to have all the elements of a sick video with some crazy tricks; urban setting, fixies, high speeds, and some catchy music. However, all you really see in the teaser is a bunch of kids braking on their fixies and balancing. If I remeber correctly from the time long ago when I learned how to ride a bike, those are the first two things you learn as a child. So, if the tricks in the first video could be combined with the style of the second, fixed gear tricks might be cool.


Mark Kirschner said...

That video made me feel physically sick. The fact that the group was filming this assault, I view it as purely pre-meditated. I would hope that they were all arrested and prosecuted for this.

Sadly, this is not too uncommon. Every town has at least one person who looks to run cyclists off the road or otherwise punish them for daring to exert their rights to the road. You just don’t always get it on video, especially not by the perpetrators.

I, too, read about last week’s San Jose Bike Party (SJBP). From some of the comments in the discussion, this wasn’t the first time that the group has run into those who seek to punish cyclists. It won’t be the last.

All these things do add up to contribute to frustration and anger on the part of the cyclist. However, aggressive tactics and vigilantism will not win any points for cyclist. Our right to the road was affirmed in the late 1800s (interesting article about the history of our rights as cyclists can be found here). As the use of roads by certain modes of mobility (i.e. motor vehicle) has been reduced to a licensed privilege, there has been a movement to reduce the right of cyclists to the same (or even lower). Lowering ourselves to the level of those antagonizing us will simply add validity to the arguments that we should be kept off the roads, licensed, etc.

SJBP has guidelines that they attempt to enforce through social mechanisms to ensure that the rules of the road are obeyed and traffic can still flow reasonably well (unlike Critical Mass). All the same, it is an open ride – anyone can join in, without signing up, paying a fee, signing a release or anything else that could be used to make this ride “official.” As such, some jerks also joined in and contributed to the problems with the ride. It is another case of a few bad apples (on both sides) will spoil the bunch in the view of the other side of the argument.

If we want to “take our share” of the road, we need to continue to do so in through legal means. We need to form organizations that will advocate for cyclists at all levels of government, from the most local to the federal. We must begin to obey traffic laws, no matter what. We must police ourselves. Regardless of whether or not a cyclist is seen getting a ticket from a police officer, our silence when faced with fellow cyclists breaking the law amounts to approval of the act. Conversely, we need to be vigilant to abuses against cyclists, and take the correct action to see resolution to them. Most often, this will mean de-escalating the situation (ride away if possible, don’t react aggressively if not), and then involve appropriate authorities. This will entail noting descriptions of offending vehicles and drivers, and license plates to report the details to police.

If cyclists begin to take it upon themselves to avenge themselves, we end up with situations like last July’s Critical Mass ride in Seattle, which does nothing to help us as cyclists retain our right to use public roadways.


CarFree Stupidity said...

Thank you for the very thoughtful and well worded comment, probably better thought out than my original post.

I am in no way advocating violence or confrontations between cyclists and motorists. Although it is hard to control your emotions and rage in the moment when something happens that puts your life in danger as a cyclist.

Missoula has a great network of local advocacy groups pushing for evermore bicycle infrastructure and our share of the lanes. Most of these can be found in the "Missoula Resources" section of the sidebar.

Anonymous said...

First of all, I hope that kid that fell out of the car is okay. I wouldn't be surprised if he was killed, though. I think those other kids grew up all of a sudden.

And I agree with Mark, that all of them ought to be arrested and prosecuted, especially if someone suffered permanent injury.

"something serious just happened, I've gotta call you back". Yeah, all of a sudden it's serious when one of the hoodlums gets hurt...

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