Hostage Negotiations

Nearly every single person I talked to, woman and man, has expressed interest in getting to work in another way than the automobile.

Yet very few have made the change. Why the disconnect?

I know that this is because mainly due to fear which is caused by lack of infrastructure. I believe that it’s also because people want their decisions to be valued and appreciated by others and when we limit the cycling infrastructure, we tell people not to cycle.

Thus to argue that no infrastructure because people don’t cycle is circular logic. The only way to break the cycle is to build something. By “something”, I mean a dedicated bicycle path that goes from the person’s house to their job just like the normal roads do this.

Even though, in some ways, people are making a “rational” choice, they are doing so based on some negative beliefs, most of which are not born our in reality.

While it’s true there is an occasional psychopath, these people kill motorists on the freeway as well as in homes, malls, and places of employment. They are very rare despite the joke–yes joke–that says, “If I see you on the road, I’ll run you down.” If only they had the stones to do so. They don’t.

I do feel that saying something like this is a legit joke because it creates a level of shock which is the opposite of what people expect, and the laughter comes to break tension. Also, it demonstrates a point of view of superiority which is the same vein as other types of frat boy humor.

Say what you will about me, but DON’T accuse me of not having a good sense of humor. It’s one of the few things in life that I don’t think is funny; it makes me angry. 🙂

Anyway, the title of this piece is Hostage Negotiations because I feel that people are held hostage by their irrational fear of the road. Even in the worst ghettos of Philly, nobody tried to run me down even though they most certainly could get away with it. Heck there are some areas where the police don’t like to go–this is pre-Operation Sunrise.

I’d like to negotiate with people’s fears and tell them that despite what they think, people are more decent than how they feel. This relates to what El called the way that cycling will “revolutionize one’s life”.

Learning that people aren’t as bad as one thought isn’t the worst thing to happen to a person.


2 Responses to “Hostage Negotiations”

  1. Aaron Garland Says:

    I just finished the back end of Forester’s Book. It has really got me thinking. I haven’t come to a lot of conclusions yet, but I do agree in part with the cycling inferiority phobia concept he asserts. We are marginalized in almost every way. It is ironic that we are pushing for “bike infrastructure” in 2011 when the “Good Roads” Movement was started in 1880 by the League of American Wheelmen. We have great cycling infrastructure if the cars would just get out of the way or at least slow down. I don’t agree with Forester’s assertion that we are always safer on the road with cars. He can point to statistics that show less accidents, but I like to assess risks on a scale that includes both frequency and consequences, and speed kills. One conclusion that I made before even reading his book was that we could avoid all this with better urban planning, but now that we have a big mess, what are the best practices for bike infrastructure?

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