Friday, November 20, 2009


A few years back, I had the notion that I shared with a friend who lives in Boston: bicycles are the new punk.

The meaning of that statement, then in what was casual conversation has a different meaning now, as cycling has indeed become quite trendy in the US. Much like what to happened to punk rock in particular, the idea of what was once punk rock has been commoditized and relegated to the shelves of fashionable boutiques all over the country. An evolution (or de-evolution) that the free market now owns and the little man (consumer) cannot stop. Which is apparently happening to the culture of cycling.

My sentiment in my original statement meant that riding a bike in the US is almost like a petit “go screw” to the driver stuck in traffic, the oil cartel that jacks up the price of fuel, the local government and their backward traffic policies, smog, diabetes, and whatever else a bitter cyclist can conjure through the act of correlation to prove causation. Which, on the surface has the same essence of protest, like punk rock. Speaking of which, a manifesto of relevance in Cars R Coffins: Bikes+Punk Rock=Freedom.

Where are we now? Chatting with friends and new acquaintances, when cycling finds its way into the discussion, reactions from non-cyclists in Atlanta typically fall into 3 categories:

1. You’re crazy
2. You and you’re brethren are a menace to the road
3. How green

They’re not entirely wrong. I choose to compost the unwanted bits of produce, I can be a dangerously fast cyclist (and drinker), and I am a whole different person when I’m afraid.

After riding in Atlanta for 7 years, I have seen my fair share of the good and bad, met nice and mean spirited people, felt and experienced the “fear”, and have happened upon those that seem to be a bit more aware and considerate than others.

Without diving into too many of the details of the last 7 years now, as part of this blog’s intent is to spread out the last 7, the general impression that gives me some comfort in riding on the streets of Atlanta is this (many thanks to Horselover Fat for the inspiration):

1. Those that agree with you are insane
2. Those who do not agree with you are in power

I have become aware of the angst and bitter feelings that arise when one questions the reality of a motorist defiant on keeping their oversized car, undersized phone and the existing ways of these roads. They know there are problems; they’re stuck in the same traffic and are dealing with the same health conditions as most in the US. From some points of view, cycling is not a logical commuting option and some cyclists have even become targets, as I have had items thrown at me while riding (no silent evidence of provocation, I swear) and what seems to be an endless dialog:

Me: “Hey! You almost hit me!”
Motorist: “Stay out of the road.”
Me: “But I am a vehicle in the state of GA. I have a right to be on the road.”
Motorist: “No you’re not. You’re in the way.”
Me: “What the hell did you just say?”
Passenger in the car: “Just get out of here Harold. Just go! Just go!”

Hopefully after collecting a vast amount of empirical data, we can get close to a semblance of something that simulates a sensible answer.

Meanwhile, another lane to the highways and islands are added to the middle of streets seem to be the prevailing solution. One of which, unfortunately, works well only after midnight.

So, something must be done, if I don't do it somebody else will. Here's the fuzzy plan:

1. Get behind existing local organizations that are taking a stab at reform
2. Keep riding, with a helmet
3. Start a damn blog and try to have some fun with it as we, as a city, head towards some necessary change

1 comment: