Monday, June 15, 2009

"Real" cyclists

So the Lady has said once or twice that she doesn't consider bikers without helmets, or after-hours bikers without lights to be "real bikers."

She doesn't feel as compelled to yield to, or share the road with, a helmet-less biker.

It seems as though the underlying logic behind this is that if a cyclist does not accept the responsibilities of the road, then they should not be granted the rights of the road.

Which is not legally correct.

But which I can't find fault with.

The groups and the individuals that I admire in the cycling world are champions of the notion that bikes are vehicles, and that they are as entitled to the road as any motor vehicle. And, to borrow a phrase, with great vehicular power comes great vehicular responsibility.

I definitely, loudly, look down upon those who do not take the responsibility of cycling seriously.

Hell, the point of this blog and the point of the Birate movement is to seek out and to stamp out bike ninjas, those cyclists who pedal around in the dark without lights.

These people, through ignorance or carelessness or who-knows-what, put themselves and others in mortal danger every time they ride.

And so, no, I don't consider them real cyclists in the sense that they are as entitled to the road as I am. I always wear a helmet, and I always wear my neon yellow safety jacket. I have reflective strips on my fenders and on my bags. I have a white flashing light in front, and a red flashing light in back, and they're on at night and during the day because you don't know when it's too cloudy or sunny or foggy or bright for motorists to see you.

Not wearing a helmet and not having lights on a bike is like not wearing your seatbelt and texting while eating a burger in a car.

You can be a reckless, careless biker just as easily as you can be a careless, reckless driver.

Ultimately, I don't find fault with the Lady's assertion that helmet-less, light-less cyclists are as entitled to the road as pedestrians. Because I don't think they consider themselves to be entitled to the road.

How can they?

Seriously, how can anybody be attuned to the dangers and responsibilities of being a cyclist on a road possibly ask for equal treatment and equal rights, but then not afford themselves the cyclist's equivalent of seatbelts and airbags?

They can't.

So once again, to all you bike ninjas, to all of you who use your beach cruiser and your mountain bike to go pick up a six pack of beer, to all of you who ride against traffic or who ride on the sidewalk, to all you who ride without helmets or headlights when it is unsafe to do so:

Stop it.

There are those of us who consider bicycling as a way of life, as a means of transportation, as a method of commuting to our jobs.

And you're hurting us.

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