Friday, August 10, 2012

Playing fast and loose...

Why DO so many drivers seem to hate cyclists?

Last week, the great guru of all things Snobical figured perhaps they envy our freakish quads, so of course I used that as an excuse to bare my legs and shamelessly flaunt them. Like this:

                                           
                                                               You see?  I did it again!

I figured for sure he's right, and further, that those angry, nasty motorists who do have a hate on for us are afraid they will never have freakish muscles like mine. Worse than that: they fear they will turn into their great leader, Jabba the Ford, Toronto's champion of all things car, who checked himself into hospital earlier this week. (May I point out that this is the second time this year he has had to do so?)  His distressed mother and his publicist visited him the very next day, but no sign of a happy wife in the picture anywhere.

All this controversy over whether or not his health is of public concern.  Legally? Surely it's none of our business, unless it prevents him from carrying out the duties of his office. But ethically?  Isn't he obliged to be of strong moral fibre, to be a good role model to his fellow citizens young and old? Silly sod. If only he had parked his car and got on his bike  when he started his weight loss challenge, he would never have failed.  His wife would be a happier woman today, for sure. All that sex could have triggered a moment of nirvana so blissful that he fully awakened to the error of his ways.  Imagine... Toronto's cyclists would no longer need fear the great Jabba Wars...

One kind reader allowed me a welcome insight into her experiences as a driver, and the root of her fears.


    • XXXXXXXXXX I will never ride a bike on a busy street in Edmonton...the driver's scare me as I drive my little Mini Cooper. What scares me about cyclists are the ones who are cars when it is convenient and pedestrians-on-wheels when it is convenient. I am truly terrified of killing another human being! That being said, I do like our new bike lanes in the city!


She is afraid of the other drivers - even within her car, bless her, and who can blame her?  Cars are lethal weapons for drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and planet alike.  She is also "Truly terrified of killing another human being." This is a wonderful coincidence, because we cyclists (who often qualify as human) would prefer not to die at the hands of a motorist, either.

For sure, almost all motorists do not, despite all appearances to the contrary, actually WANT to kill cyclists. Well.  Except for ones like nasty man in an Escalade, who hated me before he laid eyes on me and literally threatened my life. But really, if you're in a rush to get somewhere, and you go and kill some cyclist, well then you've got to deal with police and emergency services, right? It's not conducive to getting where you're going, even if you don't like bikes.

So fear of hitting cyclists makes drivers nervous.  If you're not happy about the prospect of encountering bikes and then a cyclist behaves unpredictably, perhaps by switching from the road to a pedestrian crosswalk, or by weaving in and out of parked cars, or dashing in front of them, or by turning suddenly without first signalling, you might get angry.  And if you don't have a constructive outlet for your emotions (like riding a bike and having sex, which is apparently a lot like riding a bike) then the anger simmers, boils, and bubbles, until it transmutes and hardens into hatred.

And that, dear reader, is a wormhole to the dark side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to the dark side.(Yoda)  Hatred is exaclty where nasty man in an Escalade lived when I met him, and Jabba the Ford lives there, too.  You don't want to join them, do you? So what are you going to do?

Do you want to feel healthy, happy, and fit?  Wake up already, and join us in the bike lane! It will make you happy.  For real.  It feels good.  Make a habit of it. There really is safety in numbers, you know.  Surely you've noticed that there are more and more of us out there every day.
According to his Snobbiness, "Amsterdam and Copenhagen have long ago reached what the bike advocates refer to as "critical mass."  (Not the ride you do on your old crappy ten speed as an excuse to look for a date, but the actual state of having lots and lots of bike commuters, which is what ultimately makes cycling safer."

Plus, you'll have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more sex.  See?  Win/win.

You probably have a bike in the garage.  Take it out, grease the bits that squeak, fill the tires, and hop on.  It's that simple.

Well, it's nearly that simple, anyway.  If you're going to go for a run, you're not going to don a pair of five inch stiletto heels.  If you're going to the opera, you're not going to put on a pair of Uggs, are you? (Well, maybe some people would, but that doesn't make it right.) You'll want to have just the right pair of shoes for every eventuality. A good basic pair of shoes will carry you through most of your days, if called upon, but there are times when a pair of Nike cross trainers simply won't do.

Similarly, almost any old bike will serve your needs as long as your intention is to casually ride the city streets.  If you want to go very fast, or really far, it would suit you to have a road bike. This one makes my heart sing:

If you prefer to teeter in tight places, or you can't afford a saddle, pretend you're Danny MacAskill, and try a trials bike.


If you want to fly off a mountain, pick a mountain bike.  Then, if you find yourself on one of B.C.'s hemp saturated Gulf Islands then you'll need an Island bike.  Simply add a basket to your mountain bike, et voila!



If you're ready to join the commuterevolution, but have to use public transit, pick a folding bike.



If you have a thing for bowling pins and scaring small children, you're a clown.  Get a unicycle.

If you're an eco-conscious adernaline junkie bike messenger from Berlin, this bamboo Ozon fixie is your baby:

If you have too many DUI's to ever take the wheel legally again, and if gangsta rappa is on your CV, you're a lowrider rider through and through.


                     If you wish to ride a Harley, but the wife won't hear of it, chop-chop, choppa...



If you like to eat drink and be merry with a hundred or so of your close friends, choose a cruiser community.

                                         
                                            Um.... Oh dear.  Hmm.... his and hers parade bikes?

                                                  Moving along then.  
But you see what I mean. There are as many possible bikes as there are personalities out there. Just like shoes..who couldn't do with an assortment?  You know, you'll want your heels, your winter boots for cold, your heels, your wellies for wet, your heels, your cleats for riding, your heels, etc... it's good to have a little choice, right? Life is way more fun when you have an assortment of bikes to choose from, too.  It's comforting. You get to feel like a boy scout: all prepared.

If you love all things beautiful, and you want  to wear gorgeous shoes astride a lovely bike, then pick a pretty city bike, like mine... :)  I prefer it for commuting and the rest of the daily grind, because it protects my clothes and my shoes, and it's easy to mount discretely in a skirt.


                                          This one? Not very discreet, but still the ride is worth it...


I like the Amsterdam for all sorts of reasons, actually.  It allows you to place your feet flat on the ground even as you sit on the seat, which doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you're a girl in a skirt, this makes the whole experience far more comfortable than it would be otherwise.  There are boy versions of this bike, too, for those of you who don't need to worry about a step through frame.

But here's the best bit:  This model of Electra has eight speeds, so it climbs Vancouver's hills without too much trouble, (if a bit slowly because it weighs a bloody tonne.) Yet because of the weight of this bike, it really moves on the downslopes and any time you manage a bit of momentum.  This is, in a word or two, great fun.  In fact, it moves so well that when I asked these messengers if I could take their photo, one of the guys in the middle said "I tried to take a picture of you in those heels of yours the other day, but I couldn't keep up."


High praise from a messenger, and music to my ego ears, for sure.  And that's the thing. As a girl who likes to go really, really fast, the heavy city bike has one absolutely fabulous value-added benefit:  it makes me a stronger, faster rider for those times when I ride the bikes that make my heart sing.

That which doesn't kill you, and all that... :)

Truth is, I'm not really all that fast, but I do know how to shift gears, and that makes me faster off the start than eighty percent of the riders I encounter.  You would never start your car in fifth gear, would you?  Why start your bike in tenth? Gears or no gears, though, it's just plain good to mount up and get on with it.  Does your brain good, does your body good, does your heart good.

 Here are a few tricks to riding safely and easily:

1. Keep it aerobic, with your pedal-stroke cadence high, so you're moving your feet fast, rather than straining and pushing the pedals hard.  This means shift shift shift for city riding.  Make a habit of it.
2. Stay visible. Cars will usually give you as much room as you give yourself.  Give yourself a few feet to move and the cars will, too. Do not weave in and out of parked cars.
3.  Stay away from parked cars period.  A few feet will do.
4.  Be predictable.  Signal.
5.  Love your brain. Wear a helmet.

and most importantly:

6. HAVE FUN!!






2 comments:

  1. Still making my way through this entry; hard to make it past your smokin' calves! Sorry to sound like an e-perv, but they are drop dead, amazingly gorgeous.

    Anyway, I'll try to leave more helpful feedback after I finish reading.

    Found you here btw -
    http://lovelybike.blogspot.com/2012/08/touchy-feely.html
    thanks for posting your blog's address.

    ReplyDelete