Archive for October, 2013

Anger Cycling

October 31, 2013

As I said before, I had recently read a mind opening book by bell hooks called _The Will To Change_ [https://cyclingunbound.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/the-will-to-change-cycling/]

This opened my mind to many new concepts, and one of them is anger.

A few years ago, I thought that I had gotten all my anger out of my system, or most of it, and I could move on to other tasks such as eliminating guilt from my mind.

After my recent reading, I realized that not only was this not the case, but perhaps this anger is more destructive than I thought.

I guess part of the problem was thinking of myself as being over my anger than realizing that this is going to be something that I’m going to need to deal with every day of my life.

One thing I liked about the bell hooks book was that it talked about how anger is one of the few emotions that a male is allowed to display in public.

However, I feel that this display of anger is highly destructive. Not only does it make us look worse, no matter how powerful we feel, but it robs us of our freedom to act. When I’m angry, I feel like I have less options and I have a narrower view of the situation.

This is probably because often anger covers up other emotions. I said this before, but I believe that ALL of our emotions are useful. This means that anger does have a productive place in our lives. I don’t want to be an emotionless Vulcan. But I do think that anger is addictive especially when I find myself getting bored, sometimes, and actively searching for things to be angry about.

Instead of doing this, I’m going to make an effort to _be_ bored.

Although it happens occasionally, usually when someone buzzes me or a stream of cars blatantly run a red light, I do get angry on the road, this is getting more and more rare. I get more angry when I am talking to motorists. DELETE ANGRY COMMENTS. Haha, I just did it.

The point is, I need to realize that this conversation will never go well. And almost all the bad experiences and reactions I got from people happened when I either spoke or talked from a place of anger.

This is where I really need to do a lot of work because for a long time, I thought I was getting places that I was getting good at talking to ANYONE. Now I realize that this complacency has driven me down the wrong road again. Assaulting someone with logic, reason, AND anger never goes well. 🙂

And I realize that ultimately the problem stems from my need to cling to the truth and to be right about things. It hurts to hear such blatant, self-serving misinformation.

But anger is a poor salve to this pain.

I’m going to shut up, sit still, be wrong, and suffer the pain.

The Will To Change Cycling

October 27, 2013

I’m reading a really cool book called _The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love_ by bell hooks.

In many ways, it makes me feel like motoring is part of patriarchy, perhaps. Whatever the case, the parallels between the treatment of women and the treatment of cyclists is eye opening. Here’s one great quote:

“When feminist women told the world that patriarchy promotes woman-hating, the response was that feminists were being too extreme… Yet when men who know nothing about feminism claimed that feminists were man-hating, there was no response from the non-feminists who said that they were being too extreme.”

This is also true in the cycling world. When we talk about asking for taking a few parking spaces and travel lanes for cycling, this is seen as “too extreme”. But there is no similar condemnation for taking people’s houses, bulldozing them to take this space for motoring.

When we ask the government to spend billions to widen a road which will ultimately cause the traffic speeds to go up to the point that it becomes deadly for cycling, no onw bats an eye. But when we ask the government for a fraction of the original bill to make the road, once again safe for cycling, this will make taxes too high.

I wonder if we considered the tax base which was destroyed when they made freeways through San Diego, we’d find that we could actually balance our budget without raising taxes.

The book goes on:

“No feminists raped and murdered men…Yet these are some of the acts of men that have led some feminist women to identify men as women-hating.”

In cycling this is also true. In fact, we can rewrite the above as: no cyclists have run down and killed motorists, no cyclists have foaled the air which makes it dangerous to the lungs to excercise, no cyclists have bulldozed houses so they can ride faster, but it is cyclists who are accused of being anti-motorist. In the sense that most cyclist would like jail time to motorists, then cyclists are anti-motorists. In the sense that cyclists want motor vehicles to drive at a speed where they don’t harm people, cyclists are anti-motoring. But overall, as a lifestyle, very few cyclists question the motoring design and paradigm of our cities. Few cyclist would like to totally eliminate motoring. Few cyclists would like to totally defund motoring. In fact few cyclists would even go as far as to suggest that motorists pay their fair share in terms of loss of real estate value, environmental damange, noise, and blight which would NOT be covered by a gas tax that raised just enough to repave all the motoring roads.

bell hooks:

“A man who is unabashedly and unequivocally committed to patriarchal masculinity will both fear and hate all that the culture deems feminine and womanly.”

In our language: a person who is unabashedly and unequivocally committed to motoring will both fear and hate all that the culture deems as a more efficient, cleaner, saner, kinder, healthier, and better transportation. This is because most people’s primary motivation is to protect their egos first via self-justification to the point that they’d like to be deluded rather than to look at reality.

bell hooks:

“…most men have not consciously choosen patriarchy as an ideology they want to govern their lives, their beliefs, and actions.”

Similary most motorists have not choosen motoring as the dominant paradigm which determines where they live, how they get to work, and the structure of our cities, our treatment of non-motorists, and to a large extent our international policies.

Deep down, most motorists know there are problems with the current state of motoring, but rather than looking at the larger land use and social justice issues, they focus on a narrower and minorer aspects of motoring which create problems. These “solutions” lead to the perpetuation and even encouragement of motoring while failing to solve the underlying cause of the problems while barely affecting the symptoms. Examples of these half-baked, ill thought out solutions are electric cars, bus rapid transit, drinking and driving, and helmet usage. One of the main reasons that I’m against these non-solution solutions is because they distract us from real problems and actually prevent us from solving the bigger problems.

Finally, there’s the issue that keeps coming up and that is that cyclists will never be successful in convincing the political majority to create a system where one can cycle anywhere in a way that is just as efficient, safe, and convenient as motoring. Similarly, in the past there were criticisms leveled that men would NEVER give a woman a right to control her own body and to work outside the home. To a certain extent, women are constantly under attack from men and women on the political Right. Still, even the most hard core conservative must admit, in fact they often complain about, the fact that women have been partially successful in getting the freedom to live their own lives on their own terms. In the future, critics of cycling advocates are going to look equally silly.

San Diego 2012 RTIP: Misreading Federal Law

October 24, 2013

Seems like whoever wrote the RTIP cherry picked the law…

With regards to the 2012 Proposed Final RTIP, on page 16, in the Congestion Management Process (CMP) section (sic), they discuss a federal law FHWA 23 CFR 450.320.

“§ 450.200 Purpose. The purpose of this subpart is to implement the provisions of 23 U.S.C. 135 and 49 U.S.C. 5304, as amended, which require each State to carry out a continuing, cooperative, and comprehensive statewide multimodal transportation planning process, including the development of a long-range statewide transportation plan and statewide transportation improvement program (STIP), that facilitates the safe and efficient management, operation, and development of surface transportation systems that will serve the mobility needs of people and freight (including accessible pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities) and that fosters economic growth and development within and between States and urbanized areas, while minimizing transportation-related fuel consumption and air pollution in all areas of the State, including those areas subject to the metropolitan transportation planning requirements of 23 U.S.C. 134 and 49 U.S.C. 5303.”

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&rgn=div5&view=text&node=23:1.0.1.5.11&idno=23#23:1.0.1.5.11.2.1.1

So when bicycle groups talk about getting the government to be serious about bicycles or bicycles as a hobby, get this IT’S THE FUCKING LAW.

Sorry for swearing.

NOT REALLY!!

Note that “including accessible pedestrian walkways and bicycle transportation facilities)”. THUS BIKE FACILITIES HAVE TO BE PROVIDED. ITS THE FUCKING LAW.

If you ride your bicycle around San Diego, you’re realize that while motoring roads and parking lots for motoring are everywhere THERE’S ALMOST ZERO INFRASTRUCTURE FOR CYCLING. Likewise, in many places pedestrian infrastructure is clearly there only to minimally comply with the law. Pedestrian facilities in San Diego seem to be designed by people who go out of their way to make walking highly inconvenient. You’d think that those who are in climate controlled and motorized systems could do some climbing (the machine does the work morons) while those of us who are taking a stroll should have everything at 8% grade of less.

Those who are walking should make a bee line, safely and with few things in their way, while those who are motoring can take a slightly longer route to avoid disturbing pedestrians.

SAN DIEGO IS DESIGNED TO BE COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE OF THIS OBVIOUS AND SANE IDEA. It’s as if the entire transportation department is run by sadist who routinely BREAK THE LAW or at least do the bare miminum for us flesh and blood creatures while catering solely to their masters the machines.

Let’s continue reading this law:

“(1) Support the economic vitality of the United States, the States, metropolitan areas, and non-metropolitan areas, especially by enabling global competitiveness, productivity, and efficiency;”

I’m pretty sure that telling home owners that the govt is going to take their homes away, letting the real estate prices plummet and then getting the land for rock bottom prices is the OPPOSITE of creating economic vitality in that neighborhood. Also, allowing people from out of the country and out of the state, for their convenience to drive, as fast as they can through the neighborhood is NOT economic development. At least not for the people who’s houses are right next to the I-15. On the other hand, by increasing childhood asthma, at least this helps the local medical community.

“(2) Increase the safety of the transportation system for motorized and non-motorized users;”

Thus, any high speed road through a neighborhood is ILLEGAL as it decreases safety for non-motorized users.

“(6) Enhance the integration and connectivity of the transportation system, across and between modes throughout the State, for people and freight;”

Thus allowing bicycles on trains and building cycle tracks should be encouraged (among other things) as they increase integration between modes. By law.

“(7) Promote efficient system management and operation; and”

Seeing as personal motor vehicles are the most INEFFICIENT (in terms of energy, cost, and space) they should be discouraged. By law.

“(vi) To the maximum extent practicable, make public information available in electronically accessible format and means, such as the World Wide Web, as appropriate to afford reasonable opportunity for consideration of public information;”

To my knowledge much of this has not been done. Try to google details of the budget and the allocation of money and you’ll see that this law is routinely violated.

More on Possible Cycling Bullying Motivations

October 12, 2013

I realize that I have all ready done an article or two on the motivations of bullying.

However, in my research in trying to figure out if there was a specific kind of bully who bullied not because of a perception of alienation but rather they felt close to their victims and thus this closeness gave them a kind of autority that the masses lacked.

In this case, of course, I am referring to motorists who feel that because they ride a bicycle, occasionally, there is no limit on how much pain they can inflict on cyclists while they motor in order to “improve” cycling in their own twisted way.

I didn’t find any original research in any other field which was remotely like this kind of behavior.

However, I did find an article which illuminated, perhaps, other aspects of cycling bullying motivation here:

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/the_good_word/2013/09/language_bullies_pedants_and_grammar_nerds_who_correct_people_all_the_time.html

At first, I had mixed feelings about this article as it seems to be anti-intellectual. However, on closer reading, that is not the point. I do agree with the book _How to Make Friends and Influence People_ where it talks about how you shouldn’t needlessly correct people especially in public over trivial issues because it’s rude and makes people hate you.

Note for this article, I saw cyclists as normal people who are imperfect both in riding style and grammar and the bully motorists as grammar bullies.

From the article:

“When people, especially publicly, correct others’ mistakes, a lot of that has to do with signaling to other people,” says Robert Kurzban, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose work focuses on the nature of evolved cognitive adaptations for social life. “People are trying to signal their expertise, because being able to identify mistakes indicates that you know more about something than the person who committed the error.”

In this case, I speculate that the motorist bully sees himself as a cyclist, too, but he’s just happening to be driving a car at the time. (I call these people cyclepaths).

Since there’s this bizarre inversion where many people see cycling as superior to motoring, the cyclepath needs to account for the fact that he’s in a car and thus to redress this, he reasserts his superiority by giving a “warning honk” while he passes. Or he could pull the cyclist aside and give him a kind safety tip such as the cheery “wear a helmet” or “get off the road.”

Since the cyclepath is “helping” the cyclist, they are shocked to see a negative reaction. Not only is the cyclist breaking some rule or another, but they don’t thank the motorist for helpfully screaming at them. What an asshole!

“Those who engage in public corrections of this sort often are looking to feel good about themselves, and, according to Benoît Monin, a psychology professor at Stanford University, displays of language all-knowing-ness provide a ready-made, two-pronged opportunity to do so.”

Thus, when we try to tell the cyclepath that _he’s_ the asshole; he will get angry.

“According to Monin—whose work examines how people respond in specific interpersonal situations to maintain or enhance their self-image—when individuals feel as though they have something to prove, either to themselves or others, language bullying is more likely to occur…On the other hand, if I’m super-secure, I’m probably not going to do that.”

So one notion is that the purpose of roadway bullying is insecurity of the bullies and the bullying itself is designed to fix a percieved power imbalance. That makes sense to me. And if this is true, it makes it important to ignore these people both on and off the road.

The article goes on to state the correcting people is an effective tool for putting people back into their low status place.

Previously I have discussed the ambivalent attitude that Americans have towards cycling. On one hand they like the fact that it’s green and healthy. On the other hand, there’s the notion that cyclists are inferior to motorists because they are smaller, weaker, and we don’t pay the road tax (sic).

The article goes on to say:

“There is a glee in upending people who are supposed to be superior to us—especially if we think it’s unfair that they are superior to us. That’s the other hidden part of this: I’m tearing my hair out at this horrible mistake, and I’m all agitated, but it seems like the true emotion is a joyful, vengeful one. I’m actually kind of excited to be able to correct you.”

“So the excitement they derive from publicly correcting someone does not end when the offending party is set straight. In some ways language bullies are putting on a show for other persnickety peevers.”

This explains that not only do people enjoy harassing cyclists, but they also enjoy writing shitty articles about how they harassed cyclists.

Finally, I suggest that instead of bullying cyclists, if a motorist is really upset at a scofflaw cyclist they should do what they would do when they witness any other crime. Call the police.

I Own a Bicycle/I’m a Cyclist: Harbinger of Bullying

October 12, 2013

I have previous dealt with motivations of those who bully bicycle in a general sense. Now I’d like to get more specific.

I have noticed that the types of people who bully cyclists can be broken into two groups. Those who don’t like bicycles and those who claim to have the lofty title of cyclist.

In many ways, I feel that, on the road, the second group is the most dangerous.

This is counter-intuitive, to me at least, because you’d think that we’d get more than three feet from someone who knows what it’s like for someone to encase themselves in a few tons of steel then try to cozy up to us at high speed. Often this is true. I recall many, many times I noticed that I got lots of room, better yielding, and in general the normal amount of respect that I’d expect to get in a world where everyone was sane, rational, and kind. Sometimes, on really dangerous roads such as hard climbs in high speed road some motorists will BLOCK TRAFFIC TO PROTECT ME. This is awesome, and I appreciate, but I don’t expect it. I’m glad when it happens, though.

However, there’s the other kind of micro-manager “cyclist” who always seems to be motoring. Yet while he motors all the time, he feels like he has earned the right to judge cyclist by his occasional, weekend cycling which always occurs a few years in the past. (Note by he, I mean male, most women do not do this.)

Since they are cyclists, they do NOT need to give us three feet because they are one of us. They are _good_ people while all the other motorists are assholes. Except they are not. I’d rather the motorist who didn’t give me three feet be a motorist, only, because at least he would have an excuse.

Since these guys are motoring all the time, and they treat real humans on bicycles in ways that they would not want to be treated, I’d like to call these guys by a new name. Instead of cyclists, I’ll call them cyclopaths. A cyclopath is a guy who thinks he has the right to mistreat cyclists, while in his car, because he is a cyclist.

I have heard reports of cyclopaths who honk at cyclists, harass them, and some have tried to deliberately hit cyclists with doors. They don’t do this because they are out of control assholes who should have their liscense revoked, but rather because they are trying to communicate–to teach us a lesson.

So here’s a rule for all the cyclopaths who are reading, and I know that there none, but I like talking to myself: respect us, follow traffic laws, give us space, but DON’T EDUCATE US AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T HELP US. We don’t need a lesson how to ride safely from a douche bag in an SUV. Any kind of interaction where we’re talking to one another, and you are sealed off the world and sitting above me on your throne is going to be negative.

In my city, if you honk in any case where there’s NOT an impending collision YOU BROKE THE LAW. You’re automatically a criminal, and you owe a debt to society. If you are angry with cyclists in your car. STOP. Pull over NOW and wait until you are calm enough to continue motoring. Please do not drive under the influence of anger.

Also, no violent jokes about cyclists. I have said before that I enjoy them, but when I hear these jokes now, I see a very weak and cowardly man who both wants to speak his truth to the world, but knows that we’ll hate him for it. Guess what. The reason we don’t laugh at your jokes is not because we are too sensitive or don’t have a sense of humor. You can’t ride a bike here and be “sensitive”.

I’ll wrap this up by saying that while I do understand why cyclists get angry, and I’d never second guess a cyclist’s behavior on the road because I wasn’t there, and there are too many complex issues for my puny brain to comprehend. So this is not a criticism or even an example for other cyclists.

But personally, for me, I don’t feel like it’s healthy for me to accept anyone in my reality who’s a dick. I don’t feel like I need to experience a second more of negative emotions than I need to. Therefore, if someone honks at me, they buzz me, or they yell at me, I try to totally ignore them. I don’t believe in feeding a fire so therefore, on the road, I have no response. It’s as if I am deaf, dumb, and blind.

I consider anyone who to harasses cyclists to be a pathetic, attention seeking whore, and I don’t feel like I should reward them with my attention or my anger.

I know that this is a hopeless ideal, and I often fail in this endeavor, but this is how I intend to live my life. I don’t acknowledge or talk to angry motorists, and I definitely don’t argue with them on the road.

Bikes Are Always Running Stop Signs

October 11, 2013

Note I could make this shorter. This is a 5 minutes of google post.

The age old question is why bikes don’t follow traffic laws?

This seems like a reasonable enough question, but I posit that first of all, it’s actually NOT a question at all, but rather an attack on the cycling communtiy.

Below is a script to answer this question.

The first line must be said first as it sets the tone for the entire conversation.

“I will answer this question.”

Say this to avoid the charge that you are “evading the question.” We’re not; we’re answering it head on.

“However, we don’t ask questions in a vacuum, but rather each question carries with it a certain context. In this particular context, you have asked this specific question because you don’t like bicycles, and if you don’t run away, I’m going to prove it. Do you have enough time to finish this converstation? If you leave before I’m done talking, I’ll assume it’s because I’m making you uncomfortable because there’s something you don’t want to reveal about yourself. Are you willing to have this ENTIRE conversation? If you’re not then let’s terminate this conversation now.”

This is super-important because the person has told you that they have enough time to talk. Alternatively, they don’t and you don’t have to answer the question.

You: “Why do you think that cyclists have to stop at stop signs.”

Them: “Because it’s the law.”

You: “What law?”

Them: “Um?”

You: “If you’re not sure that it’s the law then why are you asking about cyclists specifically? It’s common sense for cyclists to yield to pedestrians and to motoring vehicles. Are you aware that there is an entire movement which is dedicated to getting other cyclists follow the traffic laws? Are you aware that often cyclists will stop other cyclists to remind them of the law? The cycling community, as a group is the most law abiding community of transportation. I can send you resources which shows the extensive efforts that cyclists have taken to get other cyclist to comply with the law. The cycling community, especially in Southern California, in general, is well aware of the laws regarding cycling. But you have chosen to single out the most law abiding and should I say safest form of transportation for breaking the law. Singling out a group for crimes which they tend to not commit is scape goating and it is usually done to people are not liked. Your singling out of cyclists proves that you are not interested in the law in general but rather you are grasping for straws at ways to make cyclists look bad.”

If they do know the law which is: “21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application.” [http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc21200.htm]

Next I’d ask, “how they know that cyclists don’t stop for stop signs?”

They’d say that’s what they see.

“So you base your stories on what you personally see? So as a medical writer, if you have two brothers and one has cancer, you’d say that 30% of males in the US has cancer? Or would you look for a source which shows the cancer rate? What a crappy reporter you are. Haha. There are many studies which show that in general, cyclists stop for traffic control signals:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=cyclists++red+light&btnG=&hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5

“The majority of afternoon cyclists who faced a red light stopped (89%).”

In fact, if you are looking for one commonality for people who break traffic laws, it’s not whether or not they are on a bicycle. So you are asking a question which is based on misinformation.

The one factor you should be looking at is whether or not the cyclist was male (from the study):

“(86%) of these red light runners were males.”

So you are asking a question which presupposes something which is factually incorrect. This shows a clear anti-cycling bias.

Cult of Death Cycling

October 10, 2013

I have to confess that, with a few exceptions, I have completely stopped reading cycling blogs because all they talk about is how shitty motorists bully and kill cyclists.

While I still maintain that these bloggers are saints because we do need to have coverage of these things which are so common as to not be “newsworthy” anymore, I don’t want to read them on a daily basis. I know that there are bad people in the world, and that cyclists are dying. Dwelling on this, day in and day out, was just depressing me and making me sad.

Also, I find that my day to day commute does NOT resemble any of these blogs. I don’t see much death nor do I get harassed very much. I’d like to say not at all, but overall, I don’t really pay attention too much to stupid shit motorists do. It just doesn’t serve me to do so.

As I have posted earlier, during my cycling commute, I strive to constantly pay attention to what happens around me and to meditate. For me, the meditation is not a distraction, but rather it’s part of the ride. Sometimes I’m focused on the sounds in my environment, other times I’m making sure I’m not tensing my body, and still others I’m praying for the well being of all those around me which is mostly motorists. When I lose myself, I’m sprinting up a hill with anger or I’m composing, in my mind, a cycling blog post. I try to do the latter activities as little as possible.

Still, it’s tough to write, day in and day out, blog posts about how happy I am. People don’t seem to want to hear it and motorists, especially those who hadn’t been on a bicycle since they came of motoring age, don’t want to believe it.

Plus, nobody is going to learn much if I keep repeating myself.

But I just want people to know that despite all the media hype, cycling is just fine. This does not mean that we should not make VAST improvements to our infrastructure. I do NOT expect people to have to play Buddha in order to ride a bicycle. I’m far from Buddha–I still have flashes of anger at a system which priortizes hunks of metal and plastic over human flesh. I’m well aware that if someone slashes the tires, they will throw the book at someone (as they should) but if a car kills someone then getting justice is not so assured.

But worrying about these things take away from what really matters in life.

I do think about death everyday, but I try to make these thoughts positive, to think about how I want to look back on my life.

When I die do I want to do so with a smile on my face or with anger?

Cycling should be about celebrating life to its fullest. Everyday that I ride, I feel incredibly lucky that I have the luxury. I’d love to share this experience and feelings with everyone.

Long live cycling.