Imperfect Bicycle Control

Highway Riding

Yes, I'm on a bike here. Yes, I'm scared.


One of the stranger objections to commuting cycling that I have gotten, from a big bad-ass Navy man no less, was that he felt that he couldn’t “get away” fast on a bicycle.

To me, that made no sense because I feel that it’s actually much easier to escape a bad situation on a bicycle than a car.

Sure bicycles are slower, but unless you are on a straight away on a highway like Fairmount with a sheer wall on the side, it’s actually easier to get away.

You can salmon, you can hit the sidewalk, allies, right on read into traffic. I’m not saying that I do these things regularly (that’s another post, haha), but they are all available on a bicycle.

How many times have we gotten buzzed only to catch up to the a-hole (may they be happy) when they get stuck at a light.

How else do you think that I give out my charity dollars to these bullies?

Thus, I see bicycling as a way of feeling like one has no control. With the obsession of the “vulnerable cyclist” and the “helmet mass hysteria”, we see that the act of cycling, especially in a bike-hostile city like San Diego makes cyclists out to be victims in waiting.

From my perception, however, nothing can be further from the truth.

Still, it’s interesting to see how victim mentality is related to cycling to understand the fearful’s points of view.

I’m reading a chapter on victims in the wonderful book called _Imperfect Control_ by Judith Viorst.

Here’s a good passage:

“From along with the damaged self-regard that victimization bring, there are changes in how the victim is treated by others, treatment that can make him feel weak and pathetic and undeserving and basically flawed, treatment that can include contempt and rejection and sometimes outright hostility.”

This passage really rang true to me especially with regards to how motorists and the media treat cyclists who are attacked by motorists.

As Forrester said regarding cycling inferiority syndrome, there’s the notion that cyclists should be on the road, and whatever happens to them they just “get what’s coming to them.”

This is funny because with this attitude, some advocates still wonder why people don’t wish to cycle.

If I had a victim mentality regarding cycling, I wouldn’t want to do it either, and I’d see anyone who did cycle as a lunatic.

Thus, we should be careful of complaining. It’s usually bad to complain in mixed company ever, but it’s especially bad for cyclists to complain to motorists, who feel that they are being blamed for things that are “out of their control”.

Also, complaining too much of the dangers that our current system creates will perpetuate the victim mentality that many have towards cyclists. It will also get people to seek out superstitious solutions and magic panaceas such as helmet laws.

Instead of supporting sensible laws like the three foot passing law, the response will be more along the lines of you shouldn’t have worn that dress.

Thus, I feel that cyclists should see themselves as not just as cyclists, but as being, actually very powerful especially in places like San Diego.

It’s not easy to go against “common sense” and the well meaning admonitions of basically everyone who hasn’t cycled since their age broke double digits.

Thus, as cyclists, we rise against our circumstances. We’re not victims because if we felt like victims, we could just drive. Motoring is still in our power.

In fact, the government does everything except for pay for our private cars.


Incidentally, I wonder why we don’t get government cars. The utility of cars is in the network of fuel stations and highways which is the largest part of the cost of motoring. Without this tax payer welfare system, even the most expensive Ashton would be relatively worthless compared to a Target mountain bike.

Yet buying people cars is socialist, while paying for highways is not.


Anyway, rise above.



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