In A Manner of Riding

I have posted many times in the past speaking of how we should cherish all cyclists including those who bike on the sidewalk, salmon, etc.

I am writing today to clarify my earlier post because there seems to be a lack of understanding between compassion for people who behave badly and condoning their behavior.

I guess this is because humans have a deep seated craving for enemies and the duality of good and evil. While common enemies are useful for social cohesion, it usually maps onto the world poorly, and it can create more problems than it solves.

I guess part of religion is about overcoming our normal human tendencies, for example, when Jesus said to “love your enemies.”

Thus, we can all agree that it serves us well to look beyond the tiny mental prison we sometimes allow our humanity to trap us in.

Alan Bloom agrees, “Freedom of the mind requires not only, or not even especially, the absence of legal constraints but the presence of alternative thoughts. The most successful tyranny is not the one that uses force to assure uniformity, but the one that removes awareness of other possibilities.”

Thus, while one one hand, I don’t think that cycling advocates should waste any time at all pointing their finger at scofflaw cyclists. I do believe that things work best when we try to follow the law as much as possible.

Ideally, this would be all the time, but at certain times, the law is murky such as 21202:

“Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway…”

One who hates bicycles thinks “practicable” is in the gutter. One who loves bike racing in their minds, but rarely actually ride thinks this means taking a whole lane. While those of us who ride realize that it all really depends upon a lot of factors including how we feel at the time. If I feel like going faster, I’ll take more lane and try to stay out of the door zone.

If I had a bad day, and I want to be left alone and to play Car Door RouletteTM, I’ll ride in the infamous door zone. In most cases, for me, the later is more comfortable. And that’s what San Diego is all about: comfort.

When I read garbage like this: “Bicyclists are also required to adhere to all other rules and regulations that motorists must adhere to, including but not limited to [I feel asleep here]”

My eyes glaze over. Who gives a shit?

Here’s a good quote:

“Thus, when the Way is lost there is virtue
When virtue is lost there is humaneness
When humaneness is lost there is rightness
And when rightness is lost there is propriety [laws].
Now ‘propriety’ is the external appearance of loyalty and sincerity

And the beginning of disorder.” –Loa Tzu

The point is that if we had good manners, we don’t need the law because people will do what they need to do and to get along.

When we are on the roads, we don’t have laws and lawyers. There’s no time to think about laws, we are all instinct and habit. It’s all about our minds directing our bodies these reactions are through feelings.

When people plan for traffic they forget about their minds and bodies. We become a kind of robot who is perfect.

This is all nonsense.

Also, as I wrote before there’s communication between cyclists and motorists and negotiation of space. All of this takes place in seconds. There’s eye contact, and prediction on how people move.

The only real thing that makes any of this safer is good infrastructure.

We are all learning to be better motorists and cyclists each day, but many of us are new to the road.

A six hour or even sixty hour class is not enough. We need to drive or ride daily and to pay attention or we will not improve.

After each ride, I evaluate everything I did and how to do it better next time.

Each time I see a motorist, I try to get into his or her little head to figure out what the hell they are going to do.

Laws are useless for this. They are after the fact to be used when I am dead.

But manners are here and now.

I get angry when I read this crap:

‘Equally absurd is the claim that bicyclists must “yielding to vehicles lawfully on the highway, traveling at a lawful speed, generally faster than a bicyclist.’

The thing is that I don’t mind yielding at all.

Motorists yield to me when appropriate and visa versa.

Otherwise, this would be suicide.

This morning, in City Heights, I yielded to a truck that otherwise would have plowed me. Did I have the right of way? Yes. Did I yield. Yes. Do I care? No.

I think that the more we obsess over our rights and the law (on the road, advocacy in meetings is different) the angrier we get. I see people all the time go on about rights, and they are pissed off, but they look highly amusing because it’s always funny to see someone who is both powerless and indignant especially if it’s a guy.

This reminds me of the Internet Tough Guy. It’s easy to be tough behind a keyboard.

So I’m going to be the Internet Nice Guy. Ride how you want, but generally, we get what we want when we have manners.


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