Gearing Up for Debate
Different spokes for different folks: Matt Smith writes ["Gear Shift," Column, 5/27], "While bicyclists themselves have failed to suppress this unhelpful element, the comprehensive bike plan necessitated by Rob Anderson's suit has pushed bicycle advocacy in this direction." I really dislike this line of reasoning.
Smith is subtly conflating a transportation mode choice with a cultural identity that one would never simultaneously do for people who drive cars or ride transit to get around. This implies that members of a minority group (people who ride bicycles) have to speak for every other member of that group. This is like telling some black people that it's unhelpful that there are rappers who condone violence or "dis snitchin'" and suggest that they should "suppress this unhelpful element" if they want to be accepted by the majority group, i.e. whites. If you made that argument in racial politics, you would be heckled and lambasted for bigotry.
As a person who rides a bicycle every day for transportation, I don't consider myself a "bicyclist." I ride a bicycle for mobility, just as I ride transit for a different kind of mobility. I occasionally ride a motorcycle for another kind of mobility, and I occasionally drive a car for yet another kind of mobility. These transportation choices don't automatically make me a part of any perceived or actual cultural group, unless I choose to adopt those cultural signifiers (purple hair and a fixie, Harley gear, black rims and mod tailpipe, etc.). Implying that a person who rides a bicycle has a responsibility to do anything to (let alone "suppress") other cyclists is bad reasoning and unfortunate for this article.
End the cycle of violence: Cyclists do, indeed, have a responsibility to discourage bad behavior. Cyclists who break the law give everyone a bad name and are a danger to themselves and others. Bike haters would be a much smaller group if cyclists as a group obeyed the law. If more people supported cyclists or were neutral, there would be less opposition to funding for bicycle transportation and less violence by motorists against cyclists. Oh, and when a cyclist stops at a signal and the cyclist behind her doesn't, she won't end up in the hospital.
From a public relations point of view, it doesn't matter that motorists are jerks in similar proportion to cyclists. The only thing that matters is how the cyclists behave.
Cindy van Empel
Blog Comments of the Week
In response to news that Yelp.com will now allow business owners to respond to customer critiques: We pray YELP goes bankrupt and sinks to the bottom of hell, and takes its MAFIA YELPERS with them. We pray that GOD shows no mercy for all the damage and EXTORTION they have inflicted upon business owners and the children they support. YELP is a den of snakes and deserve to BURN for the lies and slander they spread. PRAY PSALMS 140 FOR THEIR DESTRUCTION!
In response to a blog post about the murder of Levit Chavez: I know now that life is too short for us to live in hate and anger. My uncle did not deserve to die, and his death will be one that we can't believe. He will always be in our hearts and minds forever. As for Levit Jr. [Chavez' son and alleged murderer], my cousin, I hope some day in your heart you will find forgiveness for all that has happened. You can't always live with hurt in your heart. Levit Jr., I also wish you the best and hope some day you find forgiveness within yourself.
He will always be remembered with love in our hearts. Forever in our hearts with love to both.
Erica Mendoza (Levit's family)