Monday, April 11, 2016

on civility, choice and bicycle riding

A post over at has brought out the worst in commenting I've seen in awhile.

Here's the opening paragraph:

"An interaction between road users on North Williams Avenue during rush-hour last night turned ugly when a woman driving a car physically threatened a woman who was cycling by swerving her car into the bike lane and then chasing her into a nearby restaurant."

You can read the rest of the article here.

And after reading over 250 comments, I felt sickened by what people had to say. So I tried to post my own. But for some reason, Bikeportland wouldn't allow me to post it. So I'm posting it here instead.


I need to take a break from Bikeportland, and especially from its commentership, for awhile.

I cannot read any more comments about how we must all take self-defense classes and become political activists and engage in truth-and-reconciliation projects and learn to ride faster and carry mace and affix cameras to our handlebars and keep our U-locks at the ready in our dominant hand -- just to safely ride a bicycle in this town.

I'm sorry. I can't fit the mold. I just want to ride my [expletive deleted] bicycle. And I am tired of so many folks suggesting that just riding my bicycle is no longer good enough.

For every bike activist whose spirit animal seems to be a tiger, there are dozens and even hundreds of us who more closely -- and silently -- identify with the opossum.

We ride residential streets, select quieter routes that may take us longer to traverse but which also mean less stress and worry about aggressive car drivers and excessive truck freight traffic.
We try to live within biking distance of the place we need to go -- work, school, the grocery store -- and if we can't afford to then we rely on a combination of bicycle and public transit because owning a car is too expensive if we still want to be able to make rent each month.

Some of us find ways to stay under the radar so we can still afford to live here. Some of us see the writing on the wall and are already making plans to leave because we can only get down so far under the radar before we're sleeping on a park bench

I cannot read any more comments from people who have choices and who insist that other bicycle riders make similar choices -- about how and where to live, and how to "defend" one's rights as a bicycle rider.

Like some people take a break from Facebook and Twitter from time to time, I need a break from all the self-righteous commenters who insist that their way is the only way. I'm utterly exhausted by what I'm reading here.
Please try to be nice to each other, because in the end civility may be all that's still worth saving in our lovely city.
Rubber side down kids, and happy riding.

No comments: