April 19th, 2011

How road cyclists see you

Often I'm asked, "Dr. Behooving, why is it that road cyclists seem to look down upon those of us using bicycles for more noble pursuits?" 
Left: how you signal. Right: how road cyclists signal.

When I hear this I am reminded of something the novelist John Updike observes of New Yorkers. "The true New Yorker," he writes, "secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding." Yes my dear bakfiet owner, the roadie has no idea why you're not wearing lycra, and he doesn't care. He cares as much about your existence as we Australians do for that of New Zealand (a little island South West of here somewhere). Slow cyclist, you have some worth to roadies, if the landscape is so featureless as to provide no other milestones to shoot for when he's doing interval training. So be assured, at least you amuse him, in the same way ants might amuse a boy awaiting his school bus: "squish, one, squish two, squish three..."
To the road cyclist, your Rohloff hub looks like it came off a girls dragster. While you're telling him about your s and s couplers, he's lifting your bike, feeling its weight, thinking, "kookoo, kookoo." Ditto for your hub gen lights, Brooks titanium saddle, and gallant effort overtaking his training bunch; never ever do that. There is only one way you can impress someone whose life in the saddle revolves around racing, and that is to beat him in an organised race. But then you'll go up a grade, and he'll say you're OCD, because in our minds there is only one winner: it's me babay, I'm the only winner, it's me, freakin' me, yay. That's how we think.

Campus Battles

I never had much time for student unions, even when I was a student, always seeing them as rich indulged kids, artfully slumming at Daddy's expense. If anything, their fake lefty ways pushed my politics more to the right. And now I learn it is the student association of my university who keep calling for plentiful cheap parking on campus. As usual, they are representing better off students, such as themselves, who can afford to use cars.

Our founding fathers drove to the paddocks in search of a suitable site for car parking. 

Here are the per week transport costs for students using various modes: Car, $100. Public transport, $20. Bicycle, $1. If we put a monetary value on the health benefits of cycling, we could say our cyclists are actually profiting.

So what should student associations be doing? Moreover, what can their more enlightened classmates, those who cycle, be doing to educate student associations in the ways of alternative transport? Because it is student groups who aught to be lobbying on behalf of their poorest constituents, for free bike parking stations with showers, lockers and laundry facilities exclusively for those who cycle to uni. Student groups aught to be calling for car parks to be given up as sites for cheap student lodgings, providing mid-week bunks for students living at home, when home is two hours away. I can't believe student associations aren't champions of alternative transport strategies, but instead keep calling for car parks.  

Caption competition

The best caption posted as a comment below, will be awarded with something, I dunno, coat guards, or maybe a cat. (I know I still have to mail those canisters off to the winner of my last competition.)

                            Your caption here

Have you heard of "road diets"?

Let this be the buzz phrase of the month. "Road Diet". Here is a coupling of signifying syllables, signifying more great ideas than pi has decimal places. Oh what a golden mean of linguistic elegance! Now how do we make politicians au feit with this term, and get them using it as though they came up with it personally. Hats off to those Yanks: masters of rhetoric.