Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a general shout-out to cycler and chris of Massachusetts bicycling fame

First off hey, thanks for reading and commenting.  Attentive people will notice that I have exactly four followers.  I'm not blogger of the year or the month or the minute so I'm honored when anyone (who bicycles) stops by and reads and comments. 

Second off, this is Chafe City not Love City and I am a bad tempered bicyclist not one of those kind and compassionate people who alternates yoga with bicycling.  I have to keep things calm at work but here I'm rude and abrasive.  The Californians are working at my personality but I foresee another seven to ten years of bad attitude.   In sum, not only am I not blogger of the month but I'm not trying to improve.  You've been warned.

A recap of what caught your attention:

Massachusetts Acquaintance non-bicyclist says, and I quote:

"I cannot conceive of where it would be safer for a bike, a slower and less protected vehicle, to make a left turn than a car.  We have bike lanes in Cambridge, but people in cars drive in them all the time. "

Which made me mad.  Did he not appreciate my nice icon?  Was he really so benighted that he could think of no place where a bicycle could make a left hand turn and a car could not?  Did Massachusetts drivers put their fat worthless asses in bicycle lanes all the time???

The guy represents a single data point.  With my extensive research in to car behavior patterns I think we can re-write the quote as follows:

"I cannot conceive of doing any bicycling myself.  We have bike lanes in Cambridge and I drive in them all the time. "

Has the ring of truth, eh?  This would account for you feeling fine about your bicycle lanes as it is unlikely that your path would have crossed with this other individual's path.

But I still have to put my cards on the table.  I lived and bicycled in Massachusetts for decades.  I felt fine about it.   I commuted by bicycle in Cambridge, Somerville, Northampton, Amherst, South Hadley, Pocasset, Falmouth, Arlington, and Belmont.  I  biked to work and biked to school and biked from Cambridge to Cape Cod on an ancient Raleigh road bike with only three working gears just because.  I really love bicycling and when I lived in Massachusetts I thought bicyling there was aok.  I bicycled in rain and snow and sleet and smirked at the people who were too weak to get out the door when the weather was not sunny.  Try this after the next big snowstorm.  Find an outdoor tennis court with the net still up.  Bike hard at the net and at the last moment jump off your bicycle and over the net and land in the soft snow.  It's epic. 

Then work took me to California and bicycling became worlds more wonderful.  That's probably hard to tell from reading here as I am so bad tempered.  I got here and my first thought was "the houses are so fucking ugly!" and the second thought was "and expensive!" and some time after that I met the Contraption Captain and went bicycling in California and I realized I would have to buy one of those goddamned expensive ugly houses because the bicycling here was so good I could never survive anywhere else. 

I assume if I moved to Portland, OR the bicycling would be even better.  I assume if I moved to Tampa the bicycling would be much worse, (cue angry Tampa bicyclists).  I'm half-Dutch and I have bicycled Holland.  Despite the wind and rain it is better than any place in the US for bicycling.  The Contraption Captain has biked LA.  It's tough there.   I just read that Dallas has exactly zero bicycle lanes.  The Dallas bicyclists are working their tiny brave muscular asses off to change that.  Judging by cycle's blog the lines are getting painted in Massachusetts even as I type, which is fabulous.

In my infinitesimal corner of the world, however, the lines are already painted.  I am not even close to the Dallas cutting edge.  I'm coasting on the work of other bicyclists and I am grateful.  

Bicycling will get better on both coasts, and everywhere in between, as long as people continue to bicycle, and continue to care.  

So.  To you.  To bicyclists everywhere making a difference.  To people everywhere making a change for the better I offer you a quote from The Lorax.

The Once-ler: And all that the Lorax left here in this mess was a small pile of rocks with one word.
Boy: [reading it] "Unless?"
The Once-ler: Yes. "Unless."
Boy: What's an unless?
The Once-ler: Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not.


  1. Hey, you've got 6 followers now ;)
    I 100% agree with you that no matter what the conditions are like in our corners of the world, it's important not to take them for granted and to work to make them better.
    It's been a tough week in the Boston blogosphere, with a lot of anti-infrastructure VC'ers ranting in comments, and a tragic accident where a guy, almost certainly waiting to turn left, got run over by a semi that crossed over the center line, and killed him. Lots of trolls commenting about how scofflaw bikers deserve what they get.
    Just have to keep soldiering on and trying to make it better.

  2. Oh, and my husband thought about taking a job in the bay area, and I had a very similar reaction- the houses are ugly, and so expensive! I got taken on a bike ride which was supposed to recruit me into supporting the move, but instead scared me away- straight up out of Palo Alto on what seemed like miles of climbing up a narrow twisty road full of drivers trying to re-create sportscar commercials, on a borrowed bike that wouldn't stick in its lowest gear. When I finally arrived at the top, everyone else was well rested, and wanted to take off on a winding ridgeline road, also with lots of traffic. I did finally refuse point blank to ride down the other side of the ridgeline and then back up it. Didn't convince me to lobby for him to go to Stanford.