The Authoritarians: Why Do Motorists Hate Bicycles and Bicyclists and Vehicular Cycling In One Book

If you ride a bicycle for more than recreation and you talk to enough people, you’ll find that most Americans especially those outside of big cities have their heads filled with all kinds of silly and uniformed notions of bicycle commuting. I had explained previous articles on how I thought that the media did bicycles a disservice by using a bicycle as a symbol for loser as well as using lazy and cruel anti-cycling humor, only, instead of giving us a more balance, well researched, and more interesting view of cycling.

But the media can’t be the only driving force, can it? After all, bicycling is one of the oldest forms of transporation which is still extant and thus it is far from being a radical and new idea. If we have a conservative hankering for the past, we would all tolerate cycling especially those who are most conseravative. Instead of an old timey feel about bicycles, like we get about antique cars, there’s this passionate hatred which goes beyond a metal frame and two little rubber wheels. What’s going on.

Recently, I had a huge break through when I began reading the book _The Autoritarians_ [http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/]

It talked about how there’s this subset of people who are uncontrollably obsessed with authority. At once, I found an explanation for both a rabid cycling hatred as well as Vehicular Cycling. All in one book!

Who are these authoritarian followers who hate bikes. There are three measurable characteristics: conventionalism, submission, and agression.

First is conventionalism which means that they want to appear “normal”. Since there is no cycling infrastructure and there are few people cyling, cyclists are NOT seen as normal. The fact that there are silly things like naked bike rides and Tour De Fat Bike Beer festivals which encourage even more crazy looking behavior, it’s easy to see that someone who rides a bike is doing something transgressive.

This explains such phrases that they say when they see me riding a bike to work, “You won’t get me a bike.” I did NOT say to them, “you won’t get me in your SUV” because I don’t think their choices affect mine nor do they undermine my choices.

The reason why they think that they want them to ride a bike is because they want ME to drive a car. Since they go around trying to impose their lifestyles on others, it’s natural to think we are all like them. We aren’t.

Second is submission, where they submit to the “authority”. In this case, since the government spent almost a trillion dollars of public money and we spent billions of private money creating a system which is optimized for one form of transportation, only, this is the “authority”.

Finally, there’s the notion of agression. This means that authoritarians are quick to see an ambigious threat as a serious and grave one. This explains how one motorist thought that cyclists were threatening his existence by (foolishly) “taking the lane” and why they thought that cyclists standing up to go faster was actually taunting “shaking their asses at him.”

They also are quick to excuse any violence done by an authority EVEN IF IT’S ILLEGAL. And they are more prone to victim blaming saying things like “Roads are made for cars. If you ride a bike, you swim with sharks and you’ll eventually get bit.” That is, if someone does something transgressive (in their mind) like riding a bicycle, they are not likely to have sympathy when something bad happens to the person. “Never should have worn that dress,” is something that only an authoritarian would say.

Finally, Vehicular Cyclist leaders tend to be authoritarian. They know that cycling, which is really a mechanical way of walking a bit faster and not so much like motoring, is strange. Thus, they seek to get everyone to believe that “cycling works best when cyclists act and are treated as operators of motor vehicules.” In other words, cyclists are normal because they drive vehicules. And vehicules are normal, right?

This explains the VC obsession of keeping the word “bicycle” out of the law. They are often in favor of laws which just “happen” to help cyclists, but they don’t say the dreaded word. Instead, they like us all to be under the uniform of vehicle which legally doesn’t mean that much because there are distinctions fo all kinds of “vehicles.” I can’t drive a semi with my driver’s license, for example.

But under the VC regime, we must be “expected and accepted” or “part of NORMAL traffic”. See the urge to disappear into the mass instead of standing out? See why the are so ungrateful when the state recognized and celebrates our difference by building instrastructure just for us? This expains while Cycling Savvy confusingly advocates for mixed use paths (for all of us normals, no weirdos here) and is against bicycle, only, paths and lanes.

There’s far more in this paper, but this is a good start. I feel a whole lot better now that this case is cracked.

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