Friday, April 06, 2007

Tension in the streets

Well, it seems people will never just be able to get along. (Warning, if you hate the saying “can’t we all just get along?” then you probably want nothing to do with this post.) So many cases of people hating people in the forefront of my life right now, I really don’t get it. Messengers hate non-messengers, non-messengers hate messengers, drivers hate cyclists, non-racers hate racers, commuters hate racers, racers hate non-racers, racers hate messengers… The list goes on and on. I hate intolerance!

Why can’t people simply accept people for who they are and what they like? Why does one person always have to be better then another and why can’t people with similar causes just work together? Is it because people are too proud to accept others’ help? This pride is totally misdirected and only hinders the advancement of the original cause, so often blocking out the cause entirely. Pride can be such a powerful thing and when used the wrong way it can be so incredibly damaging to so many people. These kinds of things just never made sense to me.

Personally as a cyclist in DC I feel that all cyclists are friends and that we all “fight the same battle” if you will. We deal with the same bullshit day in and day out and in my mind that should only deepen the bond within all cyclists in the community. But things that I don’t know about and things that a few people do tend to get others riled up and the next thing you know within one “group” say commuters, racers have a bad reputation of being assholes. Or to messengers other urban cyclists are poseurs stealing their culture. We’re all cyclists; we’re all out there putting ourselves on the line to do something we love.

Messengers have learned what works through experience, so it’s only natural that others would also learn from their lessons and adopt the things such as messenger bags and simple single geared bikes to get around. Some people love the “messenger culture” and do adopt more then just the lessons but even then there is no reason to be angry that someone enjoys the culture and wants to be part of it. Lose the elitist attitude and accept that people follow trends and the messengers are trend setters for some groups of people.

Some bike racers can be real dicks; they can display the same sort of elitist attitude believing that if you don’t race your bikes then you’re not a cyclist. From my (very little) experience of riding with racers, it’s the one’s who are new to racing and feel like they have something to prove that are the biggest dicks. The veterans who have been there for years are some of the friendliest and most helpful guys out there and they see over all of the little shit going on. These guys look out for other cyclists no matter who they are and what type of riding they do; they’re just glad they are out riding.

Until the last couple of months I was blissfully unaware of these rifts, almost always caused by a few extreme characters. I wish that I could remain that way. The arguments I hear from every side a petty and ridiculous and do nothing to advance anyone’s cause. There are bigger and much more important battles to fight within the world of cycling. The bicycle commuter act would benefit thousands of people who lower their burden on society whether purposefully or not and would likely draw hundreds more people to do the same; though maybe we don’t want more people to bike since we can’t even get along together with the people that already do.

Sometimes the anger is to be expected, I would be willing to bet that this woman brought anger on herself just by how she was (self admittedly) driving even if she did not hit a cyclist, she was in the wrong. These cyclists feeling the fuel and adrenaline already from the night took their reactions way too far and are completely in the wrong as well. Likely the woman was egged on by the style of riding that is a CM ride so maybe the blame should start there. But, the ridiculously dangerous and over crowded transportation systems of this country are the cause of the underlying rage on both sides of the fight so why not start there with the finger pointing.

There are extremes in every side and all these extremes do is push everyone backwards, creating more hatred and fear. Hatred and fear will not advance any side and will just lead to more incidents, more deaths, more fights and likely an even shittier situation then was in place before. Someday hopefully everyone will see this reality and work to make things better; from one arena to the next it all translates. Can we someday wake up to make the world a better place?

-And I’m off to go hug a tree and draw some peace signs… or at least to ride my bike home and hang out with good people.

1 comment:

menrva said...

Thanks for writing this.