Pathologies of Power and Why Cyclists are so Annoying

I have started reading a new book which is all ready mind blowing in its insights which can be used in the cycling world.

First of all, I’d to say that I finally figured out why cyclists are so annoying. It’s because they are not respected.

Imagine a car running a stop sign. Would a motorist track them down, cut them off, then lecture them? Who does this EACH TIME THERE’S A TRAFFIC VIOLATION? The person would either be in jail or dead if they did this.

So why do they feel that they can do this for cyclists? Because they don’t respect us as equals.

It’s because they feel that they can kill us, they feel that they have more rights and privileges.

I know that this sounds insane, and that’s because it is. If someone says this out loud that is. But this is how people feel.

I think that this point has to be make more loud and clear. Motorists hate cyclists because they can kill us and thus are insulted when we don’t do their will.

It’s like someone holding up a bank and the staff doesn’t cooperate. Instant anger on the part of the gun holder.

To say this again, cyclists are annoying because motorists think about killing us.

But we can go a step further like Paul Farmer does in _The Pathologies of Power_ where he talks about structural violence. That is violence inherent in the system. The whole notion that there are classes of transportation that can kill others is due to the way we spend money on transportation and our priorities. We talk about “safety” but only spend money on safety for motorists.

These hidden assumptions are why nothing is getting done, for the most part, for cycling in the US.

But it gets worse!

This paragraph was written about human rights groups and it works if we treat alternative transportation as a form of human right:

“Instead of being the currency of social justice or conscience-driven movement, ‘human rights’ has increasingly become the specialized language of a select professional cadre with its own rites of passage and methods of certification. Far from being a badge of honor, humans rights activism is, in some places I have observed, increasingly a certificate of privilege.”

To put it another way, we have to demand that our transportation advocates (and planners) take the bus EVERYWHERE. Cycling advocates should cycle!

Also, it is true that if you have a good idea for transportation but you don’t put it in the right language, you’ll be laughed at. Worse, as I said, the system has built in violence.

One example is AASTO, the highway manual which does not plan for decent conditions for cycling and walking at all. This has become one excuse to build for motorists, only, because it’s on the books. Another example is the eighty fifth percentage law for speed limits where speeding motorists determine the speed limit! Another is how the police and judges routinely turn their backs on the victims of roadway violence. Again, they hide behind the system which is designed for giving power and privilege to motorists, only.

So before you see real change, we need to change the language of how we approach the entire system.

For example, each time we spend money on motoring, it’s spoken of terms of inevitability. But when talking about cycling infrastructure, its’ a special favor done for us and that we some how “owe” motorists the money back.

With the support of the entire system, it’s not only easy to not fund cycling, but rather it would be hard to do anything else and it would put one’s career on the line.

So I think that the first thing to talk about is the enormous power and privilege that motoring has. In fact, another way of putting it is taht you must first give a ton of money to the motoring industry in order to gain access to fertile females. Romantic love and reproduction is strongly tied to petrol and the combustion engine.

This is just another way of rephrasing the myth that if you don’t have a car, you can’t get a date.

To sum it up, our system has given motoring incredible privilege. The thing that bothers me, though, is that this was done without speaking overtly about it and without a democratic vote.

I believe that before we give almost 100% of our transportation budget to one demographic, we should have a vote of a populace who is well versed in the pros and cons of this radical decision.

Naw, fuck it, let’s just do it without asking anyone. If anyone questions this, we’ll dismiss him as nuts.


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