Archive for November, 2013

Does Cycling Cause Gentrification?

November 10, 2013

For some reason, cycling seems to be a magnet for the absolutely dumbest ideas ever inflicted on humanity.

For some, cycling is super dangerous to non-cyclists despite the fact that we kill, at best (or at worst? because we don’t want to do this) non-cyclist a year. For others, cycling is the vanguard to a World GovernmentTM which will be run by the United Nations, an organization which the United States is a voluntary member and also a co-founder. Finally, some people believe that cycling is the chief cause of greenhouse gases, cause cyclists breath more–get it, which will put much, if not all, of humanity in peril.

Clearly, cycling is a force to be reconed with.

Now cyclist are being charge with yet another crime: gentrification.

First of all, what is gentrification:

“Gentrification is a shift in an urban community toward wealthier residents and/or businesses and increasing property values, sometimes at the expense of the poorer residents of the community.” []

Why is gentrication bad? Rising rents causes people to have to flee from their community. This causes people to live further from where they work which means longer commutes. It breaks up communities which were often decades old which can reduce one’s social support network. In some cases, pricing people out of a community can cause them to have no place to live which results in homelessness.

Clearly gentrifcaiton is bad. However, I feel that this term is now being misused in order for someone to torpedo infrastructure products that they do not like. One of the reasons for this is because the term is used so selectively.

People who fear that make bicycle lanes as gentrification have two things mixed up. The first thing is the real problem of displaced people. The second fear is that of poor people having nice things.

If we say that we can’t allow poor people to have nice things because they will be taken advantage of, aren’t we depriving poor people of the very stepping stones that have kept more privilidged people out of poverty?

Thus, I have come up with some tests to determine whether an infrsatructure project is “gentrification.”

Gentrification is a change or amenity in a neighborhood which the poorest people can not use. Thus, when you build a new road or you widen a road or build a parking lot, you are gentrifying the neighborhood because the poorest person can not use these things.

Conversely when you put in a park, a new sidewalk, or a bicycle lane, these things are NOT gentrification because the poorest people will not only use them, but they will directly benefit by having access to excercise. Excercise leads to better health which will allows people to focus on bettering other parts of their lives. Thus, a bicycle lane isn’t increasing property values, but rather it’s allowing the existing residents a safe place to ride their bicycle.

But one might argue that bike lanes are found only in wealthier areas. While this is true now, this is changing. The number of bicycle lanes in the United States has exploded in the last decade. This means that ultimately there will be bicycle lanes everywhere, one day, just as there are paved roads in all the poorest of urban neighborhoods.

Asking to keep bicycle lanes out, in a neighborhood, to keep rent down is to ask residents to go without running water and electricity.


Create Your Own Reality Cycling

November 2, 2013

I think that sometimes cyclist spend so much time trying to promote cycling to motorists that they forget how to promote cyclists to themselves.

I wrote previously about how I’m turning my back on the victim/blame game paradigm, and I’m struggling to examine, experience, and hopefully eliminate the last vestiges of anger that I have.

Often anger is created when our expectations for other people are broken. Thus, one way out is to NOT have expectations.

This is my biggest break with the whole Savvy/VC style of riding. Since it’s full of expectations for both motorists and for cyclists, there are bound to be multiple times, daily when people break these expectations and thus this whole philosophy is a recipe for anger, depression, and will probably stop people from riding in many cases.

What is the way out?

Create you own reality.

By this, I don’t mean to embrace positive thinking, which is bunk, nor do I think that I’m entitled to my own facts.

However, I do think that there are many ways that I can keep myself happy in ways that both the VC and motoring paradigm denies me.

Why did I start cycling in the first place. Besides being cheap and easy in Philly, it also allowed me to escape the nightmare that defines many people’s lives, our land use, and even our foreign policy to an extent which is the morning commute.

To quote the band MGMT:

“What else is there to do?
Get jobs in offices,
and wake up to the morning commute?”

Note how commuting in and of itself is seen as a shitty thing.

But I _love_ my morning commute.

So all ready, I have created my own reality in terms of how I get around. Hate becomes love.

But cycling is so dangerous?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Worrying about this nonsense is not the route to happiness.

But if we don’t wear helmets, obey the law, and constantly obsess over safety then you’ll die a swift and painful death.

Again, maybe so, maybe not. But I have been commuting for over a decade, and so far, things have only gotten better. Why is this?

I don’t know but “safety” has not been a big part of my life. Originally, I only got into safety to flip the script on stupid Vehicular Cyclists when I realized that they were LYING about safety.

Otherwise, I cycle for irrational reasons. If I rode a bicycle for excercise or to save the environment, I would have quit years ago.

Instead, I continue to enjoy my commute more and more everyday.

This is cycling is all about the experiences I have and the feelings that it gives me.

Thus, I would make no sense to be into cycling and just talk about death and bullying motorists.

The reason that many cycling bloggers don’t focus on their feelings about cycling is because it’s really difficult to convey in writing. Plus, our society has a bias for rational thinking over irrational thinking eventhough we make most of our decisions for irrational reasons. Also, it’s impossible to make any pure rational decision without being grounded in some irrational beliefs and values.

These beliefs and values are what make up my own reality.

One of my beliefs is that I would like to live my day to the fullest. This means re-living my childish fantasy of riding my bicycle twice a day instead of acting like an “adult” and wasting my time getting angry at traffic and cyclists.

This is one of the reasons that there is so much anger at cyclists from motorists. They live their adult lives in their adult world. They are good people who pay the road tax.

Then comes some asshole who spends less money, has a better body, and to add insult to injury, he’s happy. What an asshole.

Angry motorists are externally centered and they need to live in a world where everyone follows their own rules. Ditto for the Vechicular Cyclist. If we don’t then “something bad will happen.”

This unpredictable, vague, and future punishment is the only thing that motorists have in trying to force cyclists to get back in line: to get a car and to live a shitty, miserable adult life like they live.

Since it drives them CRAZY that there are people who don’t follow their rules but are happy and successful, they waste their time muttering about how dangerous cycling is and they troll articles and forums whining about running stop signs and not paying their fare share.

This is why I try not to argue with motorists and I don’t do individual advocacy. Because it’s not worth my time.

Instead of wasting my life arguing with others, I’ll spend my time RIDING MY BICYCLE.

This is why I think it’s stupid to wear a helmet because a motorist said so. They need me to wear a helmet because it will get them their reality back that cycling is dangerous and foolish. When I refuse, they have to try to force me to see how wrong I am. I find that pointing people at the research is the quickest way to end a conversation.

Not because I need them to agree with me, but because I want them to shut up and leave. And they do. EVERYTIME. I never saw a single person read some stats and change their mind. This means that the argument wasn’t about the helmet at all, it was to dominate me with their view of reality.

Same thing goes to us having to follow motorist laws to get motorist respect. More and more cyclists are telling motorists to fuck themselves with their controlling laws and attitudes. If they want to run us over then DO IT. Don’t joke about it. Just kill us. We don’t give a fuck!

Until then, we’ll live in our own world where every commute is an adventure. Where I smile while riding on my bicycle every day of the year.

Celebrate your reality.